Rumors in Havana circulate at lightning speed. Sources close to the “Ladies in White” [Damas de Blanco] reveal that upon taking charge of the mini-group and reviewing its finances, Berta Soler had the disagreeable surprise of learning that some $20,000 was missing from the organization which is openly funded by the United States.
The “Ladies” founder, Laura Pollán, died on October 14 at the Calixto Garcia Hospital, at the age of 63, victim of cardiac arrest “aggravated by diabetes, hypertension and dengue.”
The discovery of the group’s missing funds came about in a meeting where the 48 year old Soler, who’d acted as second in command until Pollán’s death, was confirmed as the new leader. The rivalry between the two women who competed for favors from the U.S. diplomatic post in Havana (known as the U.S. Interests Section – USIS) was well known.
In addition to their confirmation of Soler as leader, the twenty odd women who make up the “Ladies in White” confirmed their foreign representatives, Yolanda Huerga, in the U.S., and Blanca Reyes Castañon, in Spain.
The “Ladies in White” are known outside Cuba for the demonstrations they hold two or three times a week near the Church of Santa Rita, in Havana’s Miramar neighborhood, and for holding gladiolas while they march down Fifth Avenue in the same neighborhood.
Each participant earns $30 at each march. The bosses have a separate budget whose distribution is frequently the subject of internal disputes.
FINANCING MADE IN USA
Berta Soler, a microbiology technician who lives in the Alamar neighborhood just east of Havana, left her job at a Havana hospital in 2009 in order to dedicate herself full-time to the better paid work of Cuban government opponent.
The organization is miniscule according to its membership roster, but important for the scale of funding it receives from the U.S. government, through intermediaries.
One of the “Ladies” sponsors, with financing from Washington expressly for this purpose, is a U.S. Army veteran, Orlando Gutiérrez Boronat, who runs the Cuban Democratic Directorate [Directorio Democrático Cubano], an NGO that receives substantial USAID funding to carry out subversive activities in Cuba. Gutiérrez Boronat is also a former member of the terrorist Organzation for the Liberation of Cuba [Organización para la Liberación de Cuba.]
Like the terrorist Luis Posada Carriles, Gutiérrez Boronat is connected with the right-wing extremists from the ARENA party in El Salvador.
The money earmarked for the “Ladies” and other members of the opposition network fabricated by the USIS was “frozen” for a number of months in Washington in reaction to the various fraud scandals uncovered by the General Accounting Office (GAO), in which very well-known individuals from the Cuban-American mafia were involved.
A WEAK AND DIVIDED OPPOSITION
The former head of the SINA, Jonathan Farrar, became accidentally famous through a Wikileaks document dated April 15, 2009, in which he commented that the so-called dissidence in Cuba was “divided, dominated by individuals who don’t work well as a team” and people “who are more interested in asking for money than carrying out programs.” He was quickly recalled by the State Department when these statements, which infuriated the anti-Castro mafia in Miami, came out in the press.
On May 19, 2008, Cuban authorities publicly denounced the dissident groups like the “Ladies in White” and others, who have received large sums of money from the confessed Cuban-American terrorist Santiago Álvarez. The denunciation was made at a press conference where emails, videos and even monetary receipts were presented.
The proof presented was directly connected to the head of the USIS at the time, Michael Parmly, who performed as a mule for the money transfers. The now deceased Laura Pollán was directly connected to the receipt of $2,400 dollars.