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New on the Freedom Collection: Berta Soler

January 30, 2014 3 minute Read by Christopher Walsh

This post originally appeared on the Freedom Collection. Sign up to receive regular updates on freedom and democracy issues here.

Without warning, government authorities arrest your spouse for speaking his mind, sentence him to 20 years in prison, and plunge your family into turmoil.  How would you cope?

Cuba’s Berta Soler Fernández was forced to answer this question when her husband, Angel Moya Acosta, was imprisoned by the Castro regime in March 2003.  He was one of 75 nonviolent dissidents arrested during a massive crackdown known as the Black Spring.  But instead of intimidating her, the regime’s actions motivated Berta to fight back. Together with the families of other Black Spring dissidents, Berta mobilized one of the most recognizable nonviolent resistance movements of the 21st century: the Ladies in White (Damas de Blanco).  Berta’s activism played a crucial role in freeing the Black Spring prisoners and she continues to challenge Cuba’s totalitarian regime by advocating for greater civil liberties. 

Her story is now part of the Freedom Collection.

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The Ladies in White drew worldwide attention for their peaceful protests against the government.  They enlisted Cardinal Jaime Ortega, the leading representative of the Roman Catholic Church in Cuba, to negotiate for the release of the prisoners. After years of protests, all of the Black Spring dissidents were released. While most of the prisoners and their families went into exile, Berta and her husband chose to remain in Cuba.  They are subjected to ongoing harassment for daring to criticize the government.

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Following the 2011 death of the Ladies in White co-founder, Lauren Pollan, Berta assumed leadership of the organization.  As a prominent voice in the opposition, she continues the struggle for a free and democratic Cuba.  Learn more about Berta in her Freedom Collection interview:

Christopher Walsh is the Program Coordinator for the Freedom Collection. Follow him on Twitter @ChrisJamesWalsh.


Author

Christopher Walsh
Christopher Walsh

Christopher Walsh serves as a Manager for the Human Freedom Initiative at the George W. Bush Institute.  In this role, Christopher manages communications, evaluation, and public policy research projects that advance freedom and democracy in the world. He also develops and implements efforts to make the Bush Institute a welcoming place for today’s generation of dissidents and democracy advocates, overseeing visits for training, inspiration, and insight. 

Prior to joining the Bush Institute, Christopher worked with the International Republican Institute in Washington, D.C. As IRI’s program officer for Central and Eastern Europe, he coordinated political party building and civic advocacy programs in the Balkans and Turkey.

A native of Cape Cod, Massachusetts, Christopher is a graduate of American University with a B.A. in International Studies.  He currently lives in Dallas with his wife and three young children.

Full Bio

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