Press Release — Cuba: HRF Celebrates Life and Legacy of Laura Pollán


HRF volunteers filmed this only a few months prior to Pollán’s abrupt and mysterious death in a Havana hospital. This short film is one of the last filmed appearances of Pollán, and was made at a time when the Cuban dictatorship had a strict travel ban on dissidents — a policy that only changed in early 2013.

“Laura Pollán’s courageous leadership turned the Ladies in White into the western hemisphere’s most eloquent movement of nonviolent resistance against dictatorship,” said Thor Halvorssen, president of HRF. “While many of the free world’s intellectuals seem to be infatuated with the prospect of Cuba turning into a pseudo-capitalist dictatorship, it is vital that the free world continues to bear witness to the ongoing heroism and resilience of the Ladies in White.”

The world-renowned group was formed in March 2003 by the wives, mothers, sisters, daughters, and supporters of 75 dissidents who were arrested and sentenced to up to 25 years in prison during a brutal government crackdown known as the Cuban Black Spring. Upon Pollán’s passing, the women renamed the organization the “Laura Pollán Ladies in White Association” in posthumous recognition of Pollán’s extraordinary leadership. Rather than shutting down after the conditional release and forced exile of the last of the Black Spring’s prisoners, the Ladies in White have redoubled their advocacy for democracy in Cuba. Despite ongoing arrests and beatings by Cuban authorities, the Ladies in White march every Sunday in different cities in Cuba — dressed in white and with flowers in hand — to protest the lack of human rights under the Castro dictatorship. The organization was awarded the 2005 Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought and the 2013 Václav Havel International Prize for Creative Dissent.

The Human Rights Foundation (HRF) is a nonpartisan nonprofit organization that promotes and protects human rights globally, with a focus on closed societies.

Read this release in Spanish here.

Watch HRF’s last interview with Laura Pollán here.

Watch HRF’s short film on the Ladies in White here.

Contact: Jamie Hancock, (212) 246-8486,