UPDATED, Dec. 28, 2013 Antonio Villarreal died, apparently from suicide.
UPDATED, July 13 — Villarreal was released under deal between Spain, the Catholic Church and the Castro dictatorship.
The Cuban dictatorship's crackdown during the "black spring" of 2003 targeted all types of dissidents: human rights activists, journalists, librarians and anyone else who had dared to oppose the regime. Many of those arrested, like Antonio Augusto Villarreal Acosta were organizers of the Varela Project, a grassroots attempt to force the government to follow its own constitution and allow a referendum calling for political reform.
An economist and librarian, Villarreal, now 56, began his dissidence in 1992, working with groups like the Independent Democratic Front and the Democracy Movement. He was later the coordinator for the Varela Project in Corralillo, Villa Clara.
In March 2003, Villarreal was arrested and convicted of violating Law 88 — which covers "acts against the independence or territorial integrity of the state," but has been used to silence critics of the regime.
Villarreal received a 15-year prison sentence, which he most recently was serving at the La Pendiente provincial prison in Santa Clara.
Villarreal is married to Silvia Aguada Alfonso. He has one son and one daughter.
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.