UPDATED, July 13, 2010 — Ruíz was released under deal between Spain, the Catholic Church and the Castro dictatorship.
Editor's note: This the final report profiling each of the 25 independent journalists I have been able to identify as being imprisoned in Fidel Castro's gulag. However, the March 18 Project will continue with updates and other stories about the independent press in Cuba. Soon, I will post permanent links to each of the profiles.
“I am convinced my time in prison is not due to the man who governs the lives of 11 million persons, but to God who wanted me to live through this — and I humbly accept it. ... I was conscious of what my actions could bring, that is why I have been able to endure it with stoicism.”
— Omar Ruíz Hernández, Cuban independent journalist, in a letter from prison.
Imprisoned journalist Omar Moisés Ruíz Hernández, 58, has lived his whole life in service of others.
The son of Baptist minister and his wife, Ruíz grew up in a home with seven adopted siblings. He later entered the seminary, but had to halt his studies because of an illness. After completing his obligatory military service, he worked as an accountant, according to Payolibre.
About 1990, Ruíz became active in the Cuban opposition. In 1992, the state security police detained him for three days and interrogated him "about his bleak portraits of the malfunctioning of Cuban society," according to Reporters Without Borders.
Later, he was active with the Cuban Commission on Human Rights and with the Democratic Solidarity Party, and in 1997 began working as a journalist.
On the night of March 19-20, 2003, Ruíz was arrested. The next month, he was tried, convicted of trumped-up charges of "anti-state" activities and sentenced to 18 years in prison.
The Reporters Without Borders report on Ruíz details the mistreatment and poor health Ruíz has suffered while in prison.
For more on Uncommon Sense's March 18 Project, including profiles of other independent journalists, in and out of prison, read here.
To see pictures of most of the imprisoned journalists, go here.
WHAT CAN YOU DO TO HELP?
Reporters Without Borders has an ongoing petition drive asking Fidel 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, see the Cuban American National Foundation's Web site.
Perhaps the most important thing you can do is find and read the work of Cuba’s independent journalists. A place to find their articles, in Spanish, English and French, is CubaNet. You can also find their stories at Cuba Verdad.
And yes, this is the same Cuba that on May 9, 2006, was elected to a seat on the United Nations Human Rights Council.