UM institute to honor Cuba’s Damas de Blanco leader Berta Soler

Cuban dissident Berta Soler, president of the famed Damas de Blanco group, will visit South Florida in May to be honored by a University of Miami institute.

Soler will be bestowed with the Cuba Freedom Fighter Award from UM’s Cuban and Cuban-American Studies/Casa Bacardi on May 17th during the group’s inaugural gala at the Coral Gables Country Club.

Soler was given an exit visa in accordance with an immigration reform law that permits Cuban dissidents to travel abroad for the first time. Cuban blogger Yoani Sanchez is currently on a tour of the U.S. on a similar permit.

The Damas de Blanco are a group of mothers, wives and other relatives of Cuban political prisoners who every Sunday dressed in white to go to Sunday mass and then walk down Fifth Avenue in Havana in silent protest for the unjust incarceration of their relatives and the lack of basic human rights in Cuba.

“Berta Soler deserves this recognition and much more,” said Jaime Suchlicki, ICCAS director. “The Damas de Blanco is made up of brave mothers, wives and daughters who defy the Castro government every day risking their lives in the process.”

Soler, who has headed the dissident group Damas de Blanco for a year in a half since the death of its co-founder Laura Pollán, left the island in early March to travel to Spain. She is expected to visit Latin America before arriving in Miami.

During the gala, two other Cuban-Americans will also be honored. Noted writer and columnist Carlos Alberto Montaner will receive the Cuban-American Scholar Award and Felipe Valls, owner and founder of Versailles and La Carreta restaurants, will receive the Mambí Award.

The gala is at 7 p.m., with cocktails, followed by dinner at 8 p.m. The cost for the event is $100 per person and $1000 per table.

For reservations, call 305- 284-2822.

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