Co-founder of Damas de Blanco being honored during South Florida visit

Group fights for democracy, human rights in Cuba

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Alejandrina Garcia de Riva, a co-founder of Damas de Blanco, the group that was founded by the wives and relatives of jailed political dissidents in Cuba, will be honored at the Cuban-American Club on Saturday.

In an exclusive interview with WPTV NewsChannel 5, Garcia de la Riva said human rights abuses and affronts against democracy continued in Cuba.

"It continues to be a country without liberties, without human rights. A country that has been devastated. A military state. A country where the government tells you what what to do," Garcia de la Riva said during her first visit to South Florida. "A country without liberty can't prosper."

In 2003, Garcia de la Riva co-founded the group after her husband and 74 others were tried and sentenced by the Cuban government.

The jailed dissidents were accused of terrorist activities and sentenced to 28 years in prison. They called themselves the "ladies in white" because of the white dresses they wear.

Every Sunday, they attend Mass and walk in silent protest throughout the streets of Cuba.

Garcia de la Riva said members of Damas de Blanco were sometimes attacked by mobs.

"They push us. They put is in patrol cars. They twist our arms. They hurt us. They detain us for hours in prison cells. They threaten to hurt our families," Garcia de la Riva said.

Garcia de la Riva said despite the transition of power in Cuba, life for most Cubans has worsened.

"In Cuba, nothing has changed. There is more repression. There is more repression every day," Garcia de la Riva said. "There are many men and women who want to change our country for the good of everyone -- for everyone there and here."

Garcia de la Riva is being honored at the Cuban-American Club at 886 Pike Road at 2pm on Saturday, October 5th.

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