Brave Ladies (Uncommonly Brave)
February 28, 2011 11:52 A.M.
By Jay Nordlinger
In the past couple of weeks, I have had occasion to write about actos de
repudio — “acts of repudiation,” in which vicious Cubans do terrible
things to decent Cubans. The vicious Cubans, of course, are servants of
the Castro dictatorship. They help keep anyone with any independent
ideas in line, or cowed.
Yesterday, the Associated Press circulated an article, written by
Anne-Marie Garcia and Paul Haven. It begins, “Cuba stepped up its
campaign against the island’s small dissident community on Sunday, with
pro-government demonstrators screaming insults at the ‘Ladies in White’
opposition group a day after state television aired a program denouncing
them as agents of Washington.”
The Ladies in White are the wives and mothers of political prisoners,
who walk through the streets on a Sunday, in solidarity with their
jailed and tortured loved ones. They received the Sakharov Prize for
Freedom of Thought (given by the European Parliament) in 2005.
The AP article continues, “About 100 pro-government demonstrators
surrounded the Ladies as they marched in Havana’s Vedado neighborhood,
shouting slogans like ‘Down with the Worms!’ and ‘This Street Belongs to
Fidel!’ as well as some sexually offensive slogans.”
Oh, yes — the sexually offensive slogans are de rigueur. So is the
epithet “worms,” or gusanos. It has always been applied to Cuban
democrats, anyone who dares oppose the dictatorship. I first heard the
word in my hometown of Ann Arbor, long ago. Free World supporters of the
dictatorship mouth the lingo of the Cuban Communists themselves.
More from the AP: “The ugliness, known as an ‘Act of Repudiation,’ is an
oft-repeated spectacle in Cuba. The government contends the screaming
crowd turns out spontaneously to denounce the opposition, though little
is done to conceal coordination with state security agents who are also
on the scene.
“In past demonstrations, state agents have waved for supporters to come
forward once it became clear the Ladies would not heed warnings to halt
I am quite amazed that this report came from the AP. For years, there
were two correspondents in Havana who filled Cuban democrats with
bewilderment and disgust. One worked for the AP; the other worked for
CNN. Cuban democrats maintained that these two — both women — were
virtually spokesmen for the dictatorship, and poison to the opposition.
The CNN lady left for al-Jazeera several years ago. About the AP lady, I
As a rule, honest foreign correspondents don’t last very long in a
totalitarian dictatorship. If you report honestly — you’re booted. Of
course, worse things can happen too. Remember when that CNN executive
said that his people had refrained from reporting human-rights abuses in
Saddam Hussein’s Iraq? And you know that Ted Turner, CNN’s founder, has
boasted of his friendship with Castro, one of the real monsters of
Anyway, these matters are too big and important for a mere blogpost. I
just want to say I’m grateful for yesterday’s AP report: an honest
account of life in Cuba, from an unexpected source.