UPDATED Oct. 20, 2009 — Nelson Aguiar has been released from prison, apparently in a gesture aimed at Spain.
The surest, most indefatigable witnesses to the crimes committed by the Cuban dictatorship against its political prisoners are the Damas de Blanco, or "Ladies in White." Each Sunday, these women — the wives, mothers, daughters, sisters and other relatives of Cuban prisoners of conscience — attend Mass in Havana and then march quietly through the city streets, testifying with a quiet fortitude that their loved ones will not be forgotten.
One of the more active members of the group is Dolia Leal Francisco, the wife of Nelson Aguiar Ramírez.
Aguiar, 61, the president of the Orthodox Party of Cuba, was arrested during the "black spring" crackdown of March-April 2003. An electrician by trade, he was sentenced to 13 years in prison. Like other political prisoners, he has suffered from various health ailments that are only exacerbated by conditions in prison and the indifference of his jailers, all the way up to Fidel Castro.
In the past three years, Aguiar's wife, Dolia, has written numerous letters to Castro and other officials, imploring them to release her husband because of his declining health. In 2004, she complained to Castro about guards beating her husband.
In doing so, Dolia asked the dictator questions that he has never dared to answer about his tyrannical rule.
"How can such an ill, peaceful and defenseless individual be brutally beaten? Why such terror? Is having him in such inhumane conditions not enough? They want to kill him too? Why so much abuse against peaceful people?"
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 profiles one prisoner. 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.