UPDATED, Sept. 7, 2010 — Claro Sánchez was released from prison in September 2010, under deal struck by Spain, the Catholic Church and the Castro dictatorship. He has taken exile in Spain.
There, the similarities end.
Castro, 80, is a butchering bastard, the Americas' greatest enemy of freedom and democracy. A dictator, from whatever he has left of his soul to his bleeding gut.
Sánchez, 53, is a freedom fighter. Which is why in 2003, as part of the "black spring" crackdown on the Cuban opposition, Sánchez, a member of the Youth Movement for Democracy, was sentenced to 18 years in prison for supposedly violating Law 88, an odious piece of legislation used by the regime to legitimize its oppressive ways towards its harshest critics. (Some reports state that he received a 15-year sentence.)
U.S. Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart, R-Fla., spoke on behalf of Sánchez in a Feb. 18, 2005, speech on the House floor.
Mr. Sánchez Altarriba is a member of the Movement of Cuban Young People for Democracy. He knows with certainty that Cuba needs to be liberated from the nightmare that is the Castro regime. Through peaceful activity, Mr. Sánchez Altarriba has been a courageous voice against the totalitarian regime and their continued acts of tyranny and terrorism.
According to Amnesty International, Mr. Sánchez Altarriba has suffered harassment for his activities, including being detained in the grotesque gulag and fined in October, 2002. Despite the continued threat of brutal retaliation for his peaceful activities, Mr. Sánchez Altarriba continued to believe in, and advocate for, freedom for the people of Cuba. Unfortunately, as part of the tyrant's heinous, March 2003, island wide crackdown on peaceful pro democracy advocates, Mr. Sánchez Altarriba was arrested by the dictatorship. In a sham trial, he was sentenced to 15 years in the totalitarian gulag.
Mr. Sánchez Altarriba is currently languishing in an inhuman gulag because of his belief in democracy. According to a letter written by fellow prisoner of conscience Léster González Pentón and published by M.A.R. por Cuba:
A cement wall is all that separates both jails, but that one has a tougher regime than this one, several guards hitting defenseless people inside the jails using ``marabu' sticks. That is the reason why many prisoners suffer from aches and sicknesses behind bars, worsened by lack of medical care, this being the reason for self-inflicted wounds as a way to get care. Thousands of mosquitoes, rats, crawl around as in their own home, with the worst hygiene conditions. Eight of us brothers in the cause were removed from the cells. There only remains Claro Sánchez Altarriba, from Santiago de Cuba.
Mr. Speaker, it is unconscionable that human beings are locked in this barbarously inhuman gulag because they believe that all men and women have a right to freedom and democratic government. While the entire world sits by and ignores the suffering of the Cuban people, brave men and women like Claro Sánchez Altarriba represent the best of mankind. My Colleagues, we must demand freedom and human rights for all people, especially those who live under the darkness of totalitarian regimes. We must demand immediate and unconditional freedom for Claro Sánchez Altarriba and every prisoner of conscience in totalitarian Cuba.
The dictatorship on Saturday is holding a parade to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Granma landing and celebrated, belatedly, Castro's 80th birthday.
A better idea for anyone who supports democracy and human rights for Cuba is to celebrate and pray for the lives of Claro Sánchez Altarriba and other prisoners of conscience in Castro's gulag.
One of the surest indicators of the repressive nature of the Castro regime is the jailing of more than 300 political prisoners. To illustrate that reality, Uncommon Sense each week will profile one prisoner, and keep that post at the top of the page from Sunday night through Friday morning. (That may change depending on the news of the day.) There also is a Political Prisoner archive on the left sidebar. To suggest a prisoner for a profile, send me an e-mail.
For profiles of imprisoned Cuban journalists and related information, read the March 18 Project.