Cuban-Americans march in support of Ladies in White
Posted: May 3, 2010 – 12:51am
By By ANTHONY DeMATTEO
A strong Matanzas breeze stirred flags of two countries and the white
outfits of about 30 mostly Cuban-born Floridians as they marched along
St. Augustine's bayfront on Sunday afternoon.
The march, led by 91-year-old Fidela Carballeira, recognized Cuba's
Ladies in White, the group of women who march each week in Cuba to
protest the country's 2003 imprisonment of 75 government protesters and
"Peace and quiet! Quiet to the Plaza de la Constitucion," St. Augustine
resident Nancy Mudry told the marchers before her mother led the nearly
silent precession from the Visitors Information Center on Castillo Drive
to a small ceremony in Plaza de la Constitucion.
"We never give up our hope," Mudry said of prospects for the prisoners'
release. "Something has to happen to give us the freedom after 50 years
of communist dictatorship."
A prayer in the Plaza honored Orlando Zapata Tamayo, a prisoner who died
in February after an 80-day hunger strike. The group sang the Cuban
National Anthem, "La Bayamesa." Then Mudry led the marchers — and a few
people who stopped to listen and sing — in a Spanish rendition of the
Carrying American and Cuban flags, marchers paused in front of the
Cathedral Basilica and a statue of the late Cuban priest and civil
rights champion Father Felix Varela.
"He was the conscience of the Cuban revolution against Spain," St.
Augustine physician Dr. Miguel Machado said of Varela. "He was the John
Adams of Cuba."
Marchers said they hope their tribute to the Ladies in White increases
recognition of their cause.
Irene Forbes, one of the marchers, told the group that their brighter
spotlight has resulted in harassment and physical violence to the Ladies
in White by Cuban government brigades.
Born in Cuba, St. Augustine resident Anna Hirniak said she is waiting
for the end of the Castro brothers' rule (Fidel's brother Raul is Cuba's
current president) so she can return home.
"I don't want to go when Castro is there and give him money," Hirniak
said. "I want my daughters and granddaughters to go and visit a free Cuba."
Hirniak said she longs for Cuba's return to the days of her childhood,
when she said the country was a free and friendly place.
"The neighbors, we all got along so nice," she said. "Everybody had the
freedom. There's nothing like freedom."