UPDATED: José Gabriel Ramón Castillo was released from prison Feb. 16, 2008, and took exile in Spain.
CubaNet reports that imprisoned independent journalist José Gabriel Ramón Castillo is in a prison hospital after beginning a hunger strike Feb. 13. Castillo, 48, suffers from liver and circulatory ailments.
Reporters Without Borders does not have any background information on Castillo, but you can read an extensive biographical summary, in Spanish, at Payolibre. I won't try to translate too much of it, but one point worth mentioning is that when Castillo was arrested and sentenced to prison on earlier charges in 1993, he never submitted to "political re-education" in prison or accepted offers of a conditional release. He served his entire two-year term.
In 2003, Castillo was one of 75 journalists, human rights activists and other dissidents arrested as part of the "black spring" crackdown. He was sentenced to 20 years in prison.
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.