UPDATED, Nov. 14, 2010 — Arnaldo Ramos Lauzerique was released from prison on Nov. 13, 2010, under a deal struck by Spain, the Catholic Church and the Castro dictatorship. He was allowed to stay in Cuba, instead of being forced into exile.
In communist Cuba, being independent increases the chances of you ending up in jail as an enemy of the state.
And in the case of Arnaldo Ramos Lauzerique, being an independent economist earned him a visit from State Security during the "black spring" of 2003 and subsequently, an 18-year sentence in Fidel Castro's gulag.
Ramos, who is in his mid-60s, is an associate of dissident leader Marta Beatriz Roque, also an economist arrested during the "black spring" but later released.
Net for Cuba has more on Ramos' "crimes":
The communist econonic model has failed in every country in which it has been implemented. Cuba has not been exempt from this reality. The government does not divulge its economic objectives nor any information ... regarding the Cuban economy.
Independent Cuban economist Marta Beatriz Roque founded the Instituto de Economía with Ramos Lauzerique and others. This group of economists have exposed the farce that is the Cuban economy. How the communist government uses false statistics when reporting to the people and to international organizations.
In prison, Ramos has suffered brutal treatment by his jailers. In August 2005, for example, two other political prisoners, Adolfo Fernández Saínz and Alfredo Domínguez Batista went on a hunger strike after guard severely beat Ramos, according to Payo Libre.
In February 2005, U.S. Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart spoke on behalf of Ramos on the floor of the U.S. House:
Mr. Ramos Lauzerique is a member of the Cuban Institute of Independent Economists and the Assembly to Promote Civil Society. He believes that Cuba should be and will be free from the nightmare that is the Castro regime. He believes that the Cuban people are entitled to human rights, democracy, and freedom from tyranny. Because he believes in freedom and because he actively and peacefully advocates for liberty, Mr. Ramos Lauzerique has been targeted by the despotic regime.
In March 2003, as part of the tyrant's heinous island wide crackdown on peaceful, pro- democracy activists, Mr. Ramos Lauzerique was arrested by the regime. In a sham trial, he was sentenced to 18 years in the totalitarian gulag.
Mr. Ramos Lauzerique is over 60 years old and languishing in the revolting, hellish gulag. However, being confined in these inhuman conditions has not stopped him from continuing to demand justice for the people of Cuba and his fellow political prisoners. Amnesty International reports that Mr. Ramos Lauzerique has participated in at least two hunger strikes while imprisoned in Castro's dungeon. He has undertaken these strikes to bring attention to the repulsive squalor of the gulag, the lack of medical attention, and the barbaric punishment cells; all in defiance of the machinery of repression that has unjustly confined him in these repugnant conditions.
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.