UPDATED, Feb. 11, 2011 — Eduardo Díaz was released from prison today and allowed to stay in Cuba.
For why Cuban farmer and dissident Eduardo Diaz Fleitas, vice president of the August 5 Movement, was arrested during the "black spring" crackdown of March-April 2003, and sentenced to 21 years in prison, let's go to no less of an authority than the court that handed down the punishment:
"(H)e directs an opposition group of so-called 'human rights,' carrying out activities and meetings, using our national flag and showing posters asking for freedom for political prisoners and prisoners of conscience, in a frank challenge to the judicial, political, and social system."
There's no doubt that Diaz was "guilty," as charged.
Before his arrest and sentence, Diaz, was no stranger to the Cuban authorities, active in the opposition since at least the mid-1990s, according to Amnesty International:
— In May 1995, Diaz and 13 other members of the Cuban Human Rights Party were detained for "illicit association," but were released the same day and never charged.
— In June 1999, Diaz participated in a hunger strike, demanding the release of all political prisoners.
— In November 1999, Diaz and another activist were arrested after displaying a banner with an anti-abortion message. Diaz was later acquitted of a charge of "public disorder," but another dissident with him that day was sentenced to 1 year in prison. (Coincidentally, Dr. Oscar Biscet was convicted the same day for flying a Cuban flag upside down and sentenced to three years in prison.)
This past June, Diaz's wife, Margarita de Ulofeu Admirola, implored international human rights groups to intercede on behalf of her husband, whose health she said has worsened while in prison, according to Payo Libre.
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 will be 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.