UPDATED, Sept. 25, 2010 — Héctor Valle was released from prison in September 2010 and forced into exile in Spain under a deal struck by Spain, the Catholic Church and the Castro dictatorship.
Don't listen to the hype — Cuba is not a worker's paradise.
You have to work where the government and the communist party tell you, and you get little for your efforts.
Your labor is not your own.
And anyone who challenges the dictatorship on this point — like Héctor Raúl Valle Hernández — is an enemy of the state.
Valle, now 38, is a labor and human rights activist arrested during the "black spring" of March-April 2003, and sentenced to 12 years in prison.
U.S. Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart, R-Fla., paid tribute to Valle, in a speech from the floor of the U.S. House on July 1, 2005:
Mr. Valle Hernández is a pro-democracy leader, the vice president of the Confederation of Democratic Workers of Cuba and an activist in the Pro Human Rights Party. According to Amnesty International, on November 16, 2002, he was interrogated by Castor's thugs and told to stop his activities against the totalitarian regime. Despite the constant harassment, violence, and repression directed at him by the tyrant, Mr. Valle Hernández continued to advocate for human rights and democracy.
In March 2003, as part of Castro's condemnable crackdown on peaceful pro-democracy activists, he was arrested. In a sham trial, he was sentenced to 12 years in the totalitarian gulag.
Mr. Valle Hernández is currently languishing in the abhorrent gulag because of his belief in liberty for the Cuban people. According to Amnesty International, Mr. Valle Hernández' family has been harassed and his wife has been "summoned'' for taking part in opposition activities. Let me be very clear, Mr. Valle Hernández is locked in a totalitarian dungeon that the U.S. State Department describes as, "harsh and life threatening.'' His wife and family are harassed and threatened, yet Mr. Valle Hernández and his family have not stopped demanding human rights, labor rights, and freedom for the people of Cuba.
Mr. Valle Hernández is a wonderful example of the heroism of the Cuban people. No matter how intense the repression, no matter how horrifically brutal the consequences of a dignified struggle for liberty, no matter how often their families are harassed and threatened, the totalitarian gulags are full of men and women of all backgrounds and ages who represent the best of the Cuban nation.
Mr. Speaker, it is as inconceivable as it is unacceptable that, while the world stands by in silence and acquiescence, political prisoners are systematically tortured because of their belief in freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law. My colleagues, we must demand the immediate and unconditional release of Héctor Raúl Valle Hernández and every political prisoner in totalitarian Cuba.
Payo Libre has accounts detailing Valle's poor treatment while in prison, and his resulting poor health.
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.