The Ladies in White, also known as “Las Damas de Blanco,” are a dissident group of women in Cuba who engage in forms of civil disobedience in opposition to Fidel and Raul Castro’s regime. The Ladies organized in 2003, after their loved ones were unjustly incarcerated for political dissidence. On March 17, 2010, one of their peaceful marches ended abruptly when Cuban government officials violently removed them from the streets of Havana. Agents and supporters of the government verbally and physically accosted the women. Several women were pulled by their hair and limbs and forced onto buses. Others were beaten because they resisted non-violently. Many of the women were taken to hospitals afterwards, where they were treated for various injuries resulting from the attack.
March 17, 2010, however, was not the first time the Ladies in White were forced off the streets of Cuba, nor was it the first time they faced violence from the Cuban government. It was also not the first time Cuban dissidents were physically harmed for criticizing the Cuban government. During marches in 2008, several of the Ladies in White were visibly bruised when the police physically removed them from the streets. Thanks in large part to the Internet, by March of 2010, a larger audience watched as the women were accosted. The audience witnessed firsthand the violence in photographs, on television, and online. On December 9, 2010, one day before the international Human Rights Day, videos posted on YouTube showed the Ladies being assaulted as they peacefully marched through the streets of Havana with pictures of their jailed loved ones and flowers in hand.6 While Internet access in Cuba remains quite restricted, users have managed to gain access to online content demonstrating the violence the Cuban government has employed against the Ladies in White.