We learned a lot about Raul Castro's dictatorship style last week. He's just not that different from his brother, the dying dictator Fidel.
Talk a good game, including some hollow words about wanting to negotiate with the United States, and maybe even a release a political prisoner, and then keep oppressing and repressing the Cuban people, especially those who dare to oppose the regime.
Arrest another journalist? Check.
Send in a mob to break up an anti-government protest? Check.
Tack on another 15 years to a political prisoner's sentence? Check.
The latter refers to this week's Political Prisoner of the Week, Orlando Zapata Tamayo.
In a story by Luis Esteban Espinosa posted at Payo Libre, Zapata's mother reports that her 39-year-old son was recently tried by a military court for an unspecified reason and sentenced to an additional 15 years in prison. Reina Tamayo asked that since her son was never in the military, "Why is he being judged by them?"
Zapata already was serving a sentence of 25 years and 6 months, after he was arrested and convicted during the "black spring" crackdown in 2003.
A mason and plumber, Zapata, a member of the Alternative Republican Movement, was a veteran of dissident activities before he was thrown into the gulag. For example, he once was arrested while on a hunger strike in support of political prisoners.
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.