UPDATED, April 22, 2007
Jorge Luis García Pérez "Antúnez" was released April 22, 2007.
Jorge Luis García Pérez "Antúnez" has been imprisoned since March 15, 1990, serving sentences for his opposition to the Cuban regime totaling 17 years.
That's right, Antúnez, 42, should have been released more than three weeks ago, but that's Cuban "justice" for you.
Cuban Democratic Directorate reports:
Antunez is a Cuban imprisoned more than seventeen years ago for proclaiming himself against the Castro regime. This past March 15th, was the last day of the time he was sentenced to spend in prison in a trial which will surely soon be revisited when the same thing happens in Cuba that is happening in all of Latin America. Since the dictatorship has run out of the sentences that fell on this political prisoner one after the other, it continues to hold him in prison without any other justification than its authoritarian will.
Antunez, is one of the 300 political prisoners who suffer the permanent violence of a regime which does not allow the International Red Cross visit the country, much less its prisons: These prisons where common prisoners and political prisoners are brutalized. The prisoners are given summary trials lasting no longer than 72 hours once it is proven that they wrote critically of the government, were active in political parties that advocated freedom of expression and elections, formed part of human rights monitoring groups or lent books from their homes by censored authors or containing opinions censored by the government. The United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights is one such censored document.
Antúnez is a black Cuban, whose skin color proves a burden in a country where blacks have no place in the highly restricted authoritarian power centers, despite being an extremely large proportion of the population. Antúnez was imprisoned at a very young age, barely 24, and has spent half his life behind bars. Antúnez has never ceased to rebel against the degrading treatment to which he is submitted, which seems only to encourage the cruelty of his jailers. Antúnez has flirted with death on his repeated hunger strikes making demands on behalf of his fellow prisoners up and down Cuba. He has challenged the ignorance of a stuporous international community dosed in the past as now by the Cuban dictatorship’s narcotic, saturating propaganda.
Antúnez is awaiting his freedom since March 15, the last day of his sentence. He surely awaits it in order to offer a demand for his people’s dignity, for that of his fellow prisoners, for his country’s freedom and for tolerance in the Cuban nation from the very gates that once constrained him. Perhaps after his new courageous cry the regime will find reasons to imprison him again, and Antúnez will continue spending most of his life as a prisoner rather than as a free man.
While in prison, Antunez wrote a book, "Boitel Vive." Famed dissident Huber Matos, and former Fidel Castro ally, wrote the prologue.
In part, Matos wrote:
In his book, Jorge Luis García Pérez "Antúnez" writes, "I was twenty five years, five months and fifteen days old when I was sent to prison. I recently turned 38 and, like many young Cubans, have wasted my best years in prison, charged with the sole crime of not sharing the government's ideology".
Why is a man who has suffered, heard and seen what other men's cynicism and evilness are capable of, able to challenge them even though this challenge cannot promise him personal gains in terms of power or wealth?
Why, even in prison, does that man stand tall not only to protect his integrity but also to defend other prisoners who sometimes do not even share his ideas and aspirations?
Why does that man not seem intimidated or belittled by the frequent isolation punishments and physical and psychological torture?
Why do his decisions and character not seem affected by the passing of the years, the obvious loss of his early youth, the illnesses, the despair of seeing no changes despite so much effort?
Why does the suffering of his loved ones (the ultimate test) not break his spirit?
This struggle is incomprehensible to people who live without ideals, but easy to understand for those who have broken free from fetters and seen death perched like a starving vulture. It is the behavior of those who believe that one's country stands for agony and duty, or simply those who understand the word "integrity" and "honor"; for all of them and for Jorge Luis García Pérez "Antúnez" himself, his attitude is "natural and simple."
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.