UPDATED, March 22, 2011 — The Catholic Church announced today that Félix Navarro would be released from jail and allowed to remain in Cuba.
This past Tuesday, July 10, Félix Navarro Rodríguez marked his 54th birthday as a prisoner in Fidel Castro's gulag. Navarro, a former middle school teacher, was arrested during the "black spring" of March-April 2003, and sentenced to 25 years in prison because of his pro-democracy activities.
When jailed, he already was familiar with the repressive ways of the Castro regime:
Félix Navarro Rodríguez is a middle school teacher who was expelled from the Cuban educational system in 1992 and sentenced to 3 years in prison for distributing “enemy propaganda." He was a member of the Partido de Solidaridad Democrática (Democratic Solidarity Party) until 1999 (when) he founded the Movimiento por la Democracia Pedro Luis Boitel (The Pedro Luis Boitel Movement for Democracy). The movement has been transformed into a political party (In Cuba the only “legal” political party is the Communist Party). Navarro Rodríguez had been arrested several times before his last detention in March of 2003. Navarro Rodríguez’s daughter has denounced and complained to the Cuban authorities regarding her father’s imprisoment. She has also bravely made her father’s ordeal known outside of Cuba.
As with so many other Cuban political prisoners, the gulag has been just another venue for Navarro to continue his struggle against the regime. For example, in September-October 2005, he and another prisoner of conscience, journalist Victor Rolando Arroyo, went on a hunger strike to protest their long sentences and conditions in prison.
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.