UPDATED, Aug. 19, 2010 — Fabio Prieto was released from prison in August 2010 under a deal reached between Spain, the Catholic Church and the Castro dictatorship.
Independent journalist Fabio Prieto Llorente was no stranger to the repressive ways of the Castro regime before he was arrested in March 2003 and sentenced to 20 years in the gulag. Several times, he had been detained because he covered and wrote about protest demonstrations against the government. He was not a participant in the protests, but he was as big, if not bigger, a threat to the regime. He and other independent journalists not part of the state-run media threaten the regime because through them, the world has learned more details about the corruption and tyranny of the communists and how growing numbers of Cubans are rising up in opposition. In the face of a message so powerful, Castro responded by locking up the messengers.
Prieto has not allowed prison to silence him, frequently complaining to his guards, and to the outside world, about conditions in Fidel Castro’s gulag. For example, in 2004, he went on several hunger strikes, which aggravated his generally poor health in prison. And last year, according to Reporters Without Borders, he was placed in a tiny punishment cell because he refused to wear his prison uniform to protest the poor treatment of another imprisoned journalist, Juan Carlos Herrera Acosta.
But last month, for whatever reason, Prieto was transferred from a prison in eastern Cuba to one on the Isle of Youth, which is where he is from. His sister said she hopes the move will improve his health and make it easier for his elderly mother to visit him.
Fabio Prieto Llorente
Arrested: March 19, 2003. Charged with "acts against the independence or the territorial integrity of the State."
Prison sentence: 20 years.
For more on Uncommon Sense's March 18 Project, read here.
WHAT CAN YOU DO TO HELP?
Reporters Without Borders has an ongoing petition drive asking Castro to release independent journalists in prison. You can sign the petition here. (A technical note: Reporters Without Borders is based in Paris, so the confirmation e-mail you will receive after signing the petition will be in French. Just in case you don't read French, the confirmation e-mail asks you click on the link to complete the petition signature process. Castro won't receive your message until you click on the link.)
For more on the Cuban dissidents, including a chance to "adopt a dissident," see the Cuban American National Foundation's Web site.
Perhaps the most important thing you can do is find and read the work of independent journalists still on the island. A place to find their articles, in Spanish, English and French, is CubaNet.