Message to Cuban Women’s Federation from Women’s International Democratic Federation – Asia Region

20 June 2007

Havana, Cuba

Dear sisters,

On behalf of the Women’s International Democratic Federation Asia Region, we would like to express our deepest sadness on the passing away of Vilma Espin, heroine of the clandestine, heroine of the Cuban Revolution and the women’s struggle worldwide.

We pay our highest respect and homage to her courage and steadfast resolve to advance women’s emancipation not only in Cuba but throughout the world. She has become a symbol of freedom not only for her country but for all the peoples fighting for liberation.

Vilma Espin will be forever linked to the worldwide movement of women for genuine democratic changes in all the unequal structures that perpetuate women’s marginalization. She will always be remembered as the guiding light of the women’s struggle for full emancipation and equality.

Following the victory of the Cuban Revolution, Vilma Espin initiated the formation of the Cuban Women’s Federation that united women from all parts of Cuba The Cuban Women’s Federation played a major role in advancing the gains of the Cuban Revolution and in advancing the struggle of the Cuban women for full liberation. Today the Federation congregates more than four million members and it participates actively in the battle of ideas, in the construction and defense of socialism, in the fight for the eradication of discrimination against women and for full emancipation of women.

Internationally, her name will be forever etched in the memories of the women’s movements worldwide. The Women’s International Democratic Federation is the result of her deep commitment to women and her unbreakable faith in strength and revolutionary capacity of women. Drawing from her strength, today the Women’s International Democratic Federation stands as a strong international women’s organization advancing the struggles against imperialism, poverty, violence and oppression. Her life, struggles and achievements will always illumine our path towards liberation and building sovereign nations, a better, egalitarian and fraternal world.

VILMA dedicated with love her life for the liberation of her people. Born into a wealthy family in Santiago, Eastern Cuba on April 7, 1930 and trained as a chemical engineer in Cuba and at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Espin became a young urban rebel after Fulgencio Batista took power in a coup. She participated in early street protests against Batista and became deeply involved in the revolutionary underground. From that time on, she was an inseparable collaborator of Frank Pais, joining organizations founded by him in the struggle against the tyranny, until the members of what was then called the National Revolutionary Action joined the ranks of the 26th of July Movement.

Vilma battled Batista’s dictatorship throughout the 1950s. Under the direct orders of Frank, she took part in the armed uprising of Santiago de Cuba on November 30, 1956, in support of the expeditionary force arriving on the Granma yacht. Following that important action she converted her home into the headquarters of the revolutionary movement in Santiago de Cuba, protecting her comrades who attacked the Moncada Barracks from being persecuted by the Batista regime.

She assumed leadership of the urban rebel movement in eastern Cuba even before regional leader Frank Pais was assasinated in 1957. This role she carried out with particular courage and skill. In 1958, Vilma sought refuge in the mountains above Santiago, where Raul and Fidel Castro commanded their rebel fighters. She became a legendary guerilla fighter of the Frank Pais Second Western Front.

Upon the triumph of the Revolution in 1959, she immersed in various tasks in rebuilding Cuba. She was a member of the Central Committee of the Party from its foundation in 1965, which was ratified in all of its Congresses. At the Second Congress of the Party in 1980 she was elected substitute member of the Politburo. At the Third Party Congress she was promoted as a full member of the leadership, a responsibility she held until 1991. She was a member of the National Assembly since its first legislature and a member of the Council of State since its constitution.

With her passing away, the women’s and the people’s movement have lost a loving comrade, a friend, a sister, and a mother. She is no longer with us, but her spirit and wisdom nurtured and enriched by steadfast struggles for liberation, for equality and peace will always serve as our inspiration in our struggles against imperialism plunder and all terroristic schemes concocted by imperialist force led by the U.S. and their elite allies worldwide. Vilma Espin will always stay in the hearts and minds of women and look up to her life, struggles and achievements as our guiding light in advancing socialism and full emanciaption of women- a dream she and us want to realize.

Let us keep Vilma Espin’s bravery and commitment burning in our hearts and minds and advance international solidarity against all imperialist forces and schemes.


Women’s International Democratic Federation
Asia Region


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