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In a three-day period, March 18-20, 2003, referred to as The Black Spring, the Cuban government arrested and imprisoned 75 journalists, human rights activists, and pro-democracy advocates. In response, the wives, mothers, and daughters of these political prisoners formed the non-violent protest organization, Las Damas de Blanco (The Ladies in White), calling for an improvement in prison conditions and the release of their relatives. In March 2011, after eight years of Las Damas’ activism, the final prisoners were released. The women’s organization, now named the Laura Pollán Damas de Blanco Movimiento, continues its human rights activism despite continued repression. Combining elements of structural, cultural, and nonviolent action theoretical approaches, I analyzed 12 oral histories of organization members to examine the factors associated with the organization’s emergence and development. I argue that a pervasive ethos of care within Las Damas provides a foundation for the organization’s endurance and success. This study is important because a better understanding of the Laura Pollán Damas de Blanco Movimiento may further the advancement of other activist organizations.

Author Bio(s)

Gail Markle is currently an Associate Professor of Sociology in the Department of Sociology and Criminal Justice at Kennesaw State University. She regularly teaches the Sociology Capstone course, Senior Seminar, and courses in inequality such as Intersections of Race, Class and Gender and Social Class and Mobility. Her research interests include environmentalism, social inequality, and issues in higher education.

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.