Laura Pollan Toledo, teacher and human-rights campaigner, died on October 14th, aged 63.
劳拉·普兰·托莱多 —— 教师和人权活动家，于10月14日去世，享年63岁。
THE house at 963 Calle Neptuno, in the centre of Havana, was small, but Laura Pollan kept it beautifully. The grey floor-tiles with their snowflake motif were always swept clean, even though her fluffy mongrel terrier shed his long hair everywhere, and though the door was kept open to get some air in from the bike-filled, rowdy, dusty street. In the front living room she had cane chairs with heart-shaped backs, and triangles of lace decorated the shelves. Outside, the tiny back yard was a jungle of pot plants and climbers, with neatly folded washing hung against the ochre walls. And the tower of the Iglesia del Carmen watched over it all.
劳拉·普兰住在哈瓦那的中心街区Calle Neptuno 963 号，这虽是一所小小居所，但劳拉始终把它打理得整洁漂亮。有着雪花图案的灰色地砖总是一尘不染，尽管她的长毛geng（反犬旁那个更，这里出不来，悲剧了。）经常会把它的毛发掉落一地，尽管敞开的大门正对着一条满溢尾气、嘈杂的、尘土飞扬的大街。在前面的客厅里有几张藤背椅，它们的靠背是一个心形，三角形的花边装饰着座凳。在屋后有一个很小的庭院，满是盆栽和爬藤植物，如同一个小小丛林，对面赭石墙上的清洁工具挂得整整齐齐。一抬头就能看到伊格莱西亚卡门塔，它似静静观望着小院。
But her house was also a cell for liberty. The living-room walls were hung with lists of the names of political prisoners, their photos, and a huge chart that showed them bursting from their chains when her group notched up a success. Prisoners’ wives and daughters crowded there for her monthly Literary Teas. She once got 72 women in, under the slowly turning ceiling fan, and put up 25 overnight. They came from all over Cuba: Pinar del Rio, Santa Clara, Las Tunas, Manzanillo (in the east, where she was born), even from the Sierra Maestra, where Fidel Castro had holed up in the mountains to start his revolution. They gathered at her house because she was central, and had a telephone. After 2003 the phone kept ringing, and she would answer it in a whisper, knowing it was tapped; each call would end with “Cuidado”, “Be careful”. A security camera and floodlights appeared outside her front door, supplementing the plain-clothes men who loitered there. Her bookshelf now held a tiny statue of Santa Rita, the saint of the impossible.
What had started all this was the arrest of her husband, Héctor Maseda Gutiérrez, for “acting against the territorial integrity of the state”. Seventy-four others were arrested with him in that Black Spring of 2003, and given average prison sentences of 20 years. Ms Pollan knew he had done nothing. The picture of him she wore emblazoned on her T-shirt showed a mild, smiling man, an engineer, who kept his glasses on a cord round his neck. He liked to underline phrases in the newspapers and clip pieces out, organising them under “Politics” or “Environment”. She supposed he was just trying to point out contradictions in the government line. They didn’t discuss it, any more than she took part when his friends from the banned Liberal Democratic Party came round to talk. She would disappear to the kitchen then, making coffee, and leave the men alone.
But they were taken away. Husbands, fathers, brothers, disappeared. Ms Pollan came home from teaching evening class to find 12 state security agents invading her house, carrying away the clippings and two old typewriters. One agent stood by even as she and Héctor tried to say goodbye to each other. Two weeks later she started to bring together the women she kept meeting at the Villa Marista barracks and at various government offices, seeking news of their men. They became the Damas de Blanco, or Ladies in White.
Marching through Miramar
Ms Pollan came brand-new to campaigning. She was a mother (of Laurita), a housewife and a teacher: someone who loved literature and had taught peasants to read in the early years of the revolution. She had never done anything wilder. Short, blonde and stout, she was not cut out to be hauled into a bus by the police. All she wanted was to see Héctor back, and all the others. Her group would meet each Sunday at the church of Santa Rita in Miramar, Havana’s grandest district, say the rosary, hear mass, and then walk ten blocks in silence along Quinta Avenida on the green verges under the palm trees. The women wore white, symbolising pure intentions, and carried gladioli, a single stem each.
Yet politics crept in. At the end of every march the women would chant “Libertad!”—for Cuba as a whole, as much as for their men. They would throw out pencils with Derechos Humanos on one side and Damas en Blanco on the other, hoping that, slowly, people would pick them up. Enemies called them “mercenaries” and “Ladies in Green”, in the pay of the United States, and Ms Pollan had to admit that they did get American dollars and American parcels for their imprisoned men. Shock mobs of other women were especially bused in to attack them, beat them and pull their hair. Ms Pollan could fight back with the best: when a man called her “Puta!” once, she threw her gladioli in his face. In one battle in September she was crushed against a wall, which may have set off the breathing troubles that killed her.
然而，民主总姗姗来迟。每年三月末，示威的妇女们总会呼喊着“自由！”——为古巴全体人民，也为她们的男人们。她们分发铅笔，铅笔一头印着“白衣女士”，另一头印着人权联盟的标志，希望通过宣传使民主慢慢地深入人心，能得到人们的支持。而她们的对立方称她们为 “雇佣军”和被美国收买的“绿色女人”（大概意指美元是绿色的）。普兰女士不得不承认，她们为了被监禁的丈夫们的确得到了美国的美元和物资支持。被盲目驱使的其他妇女受到煽动来袭击她们，打她们，拉扯她们的头发。对于这些，普兰女士可以强忍着不作还击，但一次当一个男人骂她“母狗”时，她终于忍无可忍，把手里的剑兰扔在他的脸上。 在9月在一次示威活动中，她被猛地撞到一堵墙上，这可能引发了她的呼吸系统障碍，最终导致了她的死因。
By then, the 75 prisoners they were campaigning for had been released; most by the intervention of the Catholic Church and the government of Spain, but around 20 by their own efforts. Héctor, gaunt and thin, came out only last February. The numbers of Ladies dwindled, to 15 or so, as their work seemed to be done. But for Ms Pollan it was not done. Her Ladies had to go on marching as long as the laws remained that could fill the prisons again. As long as Cuba was not free, she would go on sitting at her computer with her little dog stretched out on the tiles beside her, alert for the telephone, with her front door open and Santa Rita at the ready, and the ceiling fan turning slowly in the smothering air.