UPDATED Pedro Pablo Álvarez Ramos was released from prison Feb. 16, 2008, and allowed to take exile in Spain.
Editor's note: This post will remain at the top of the page until Friday, events allowing. For newer posts, see below.
Do you have a collection of books, perhaps displayed on bookshelves in your living room or study?
In Cuba, if you are so fortunate to have such a collection, chances are you are breaking the law.
Pedro Pablo Álvarez Ramos saw that first hand in March 2003, during the "black spring" crackdown on Cuban dissidents, when police broke into his home and took books and other items from his "Biblioteca Sindical Emilio Máspero." They also arrested Álvarez. After all, independent libraries, just like an independent press, are considered as threats to the state and party.
Álvarez, now 58, wasn't just a wayward librarian. He also was president of the Unitary Council of Workers, an independent labor movement.
An independent librarian.
An independent labor union leader.
An independent man.
A dangerous trifecta for the Castro regime.
So it sentenced Álvarez to 25 years in prison for "counter-revolutionary" activities that "put in danger the independence and sovereignty of Cuba."
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.