Chargé d’ Affaires Mara Tekach
U.S. Embassy Havana
International Women’s day
March 6, 2020, Chief of Mission Residence
Welcome to the United States Embassy commemoration of women of courage in which we honor Cuba’s Ladies in White. You epitomize what it means to be valiant in the face of overwhelming repression.
We are all Ladies in White.
This week and throughout the month, the global audience commemorates women around the world who have given of themselves selflessly for the betterment of humanity, I know that in the United States, American officials are thinking and talking about you, the Ladies in White of Cuba and I wanted you to know it.
I know because I’ve told them your stories. I’ve talked about the injustices. I have given press interviews where I have described your personal stories. I have described in detail the increasingly repressive tactics used in futile attempts to silence your voices. I am witness as President Trump’s representative in Cuba.
I have also highlighted the enduring spirit with which you persevere in your fight for democracy to realize a better more prosperous Cuba.
Among us here today, we have dissidents, mothers, sisters, and daughters of political prisoners.
You have all exercised uncommon bravery since that fateful Black Spring day in 2003 when you walked in solidarity. Your fathers, husbands, sons and brothers were arbitrarily arrested and summarily tried and sentenced to terms up to 28 years in prison.
Your movement in protest has been recognized globally by human rights advocacy groups and international media alike.
In 2005, you earned the European Union’s Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought. This well-deserved recognition puts you in the same category as South Africa’s Nelson Mandela and Argentina’s Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo.
You have chosen as your weapon in the fight for justice non-violent protest. This powerful method of free expression has legacy in America’s history as well. You send a very clear signal to all that you will not be silenced.
Convening a group of courageous women, committed to justice, appears to invoke fear among bullies and oppressors.
We invite all the Ladies in White to our commemoration today.
We condemn the repressive actions that denied most of these Ladies in White their right to join us.
The oppressors fear you because your example and efforts continue to endure. And the United States will continue to amplify your voices.
As I said almost one year ago on these grounds when we commemorated U.S. independence in 2019, we share a common language and our dialogue is constant.
Our Hemisphere of Freedom has no place for oppression and repression.
The Ladies in White know that repression must end, and you are among our hemisphere’s greatest defenders of freedom.
The United States remains committed to supporting your brave struggle. We are committed to the freedom of the Cuban people and to freedom everywhere.