Love Always Liberates, and always Seeks Good in Others
“Love cannot subordinate itself to an ideology that will corrupt it. Love always liberates, and always seeks good in others. Those of us who love Cuba cannot run the risk of changing its ownership to just us, but instead to EVERYONE.”
It was with these words that the Lady in White, Melba Santana Ariz, spoke at the acceptance ceremony for the XIX Convivencia Award on the morning of January 14th, chosen by the Professor Manuel Broseta Foundation. She was expressing the feelings of a group of women who for more than 7 long years have struggled to achieve freedom for the political prisoners and respect for the dignity of an entire country.
The president of the panel of judges of the XIX edition of the Convivencia Award, Miguel Roca Junyent, has expressed his profound admiration for the Ladies in White numerous times. Time and time again, he has proven why these women are the rightful recipients of this prestigious award. He has stated that Manuel Broseta was killed because he was a symbol of freedom, and that “the Ladies in White are defending freedom in a very difficult situation.”
With this prize, the Valencia Community Foundation intends to distinguish those individuals or institutions who have excelled in the defense of freedom, justice, peaceful coexistence, respect, and pluralistic ideology.
The ceremony commenced with a mass at the Basilica of the Virgin of the Defenceless, a sanctuary of vast veneration for the Valencia natives. This is not very different from the Patron Saint of all Cubans, the Virgin of Charity, who also counts with wide veneration from her people. The mass was dedicated to Orlando Zapata Tamayo, Professor Manuel Broseta, and to all those who still reside behind the bars just for thinking differently.
Afterwards, at around 11 AM, the ceremony moved to Blasco Ibanez street, where a stone monument stands to commemorate the very spot where Professor Broseta had been assasinated. In that same location, friends, family members, and in this occasion the representatives of the Ladies in White payed homage to him as well, depositing a garland of roses along with some gladiolus, those emblematic flowers which represent them.
The ceremony then concluded with a very emotional act in the Generalitat Palau before the presence of Valencia’s authorities, other friends, and recently exiled and deported Cubans who reside in Spain. In addition, we witnessed the powerful words spoken by the Ladies in White, carried out by Melba Santana Ariz, which once again declared, “We have been mistreated, threatened, and beaten. But this has not been succesful in whithering away our capacity to still harbor love inside of us. As long as in Cuba there is at least one man who rots away in jail just for being different, for dreaming out loud, or for thinking differently, then there will always be LADIES IN WHITE.”
By Jose Luis Garcia Paneque