Ernesto Borges Pérez was the Cuban Jack Bauer.
Like the character on TV's "24," Borges was a highly intelligent, highly trained spy in service of his country.
But his masters in the Interior Ministry and the communist dictatorship, did not anticipate that Borges, like Bauer, had a conscience. And that once he was out in the field doing their dirty work — in his case, in Moscow during glasnost and perestroika — he would be changed by what he saw.
When he returned to Cuba, Borges decided he would attack the communist system from within, stealing what he knew about Cuban agents who had infiltrated the United States — after all, he had helped train them — and passing it on to American diplomats in Havana.
It was dangerous work. Getting caught might mean death.
On July 17, 1998, he got caught, and after a secret military trial the following January, he was sentenced, not to death, but to 30 years in prison for espionage.
Since his imprisonment, Borges' biggest advocate has been his father, Raúl Borges Álvarez.
In a recent letter, the senior Borges implored international officials to plea for his son's release. In the nine years he has been in jail, Ernesto, now 41, has developed chronic asthma, gastritis and other ailments — for which he has been denied treatment. Prison officials also have blocked his ability to receive letters and other correspondence from the outside world, or to talk via telephone with his daughter in Canada.
One of the surest indicators of the repressive nature of the Castro regime is the jailing of political prisoners. To illustrate that reality, Uncommon Sense each week profiles one prisoner. There also is a Political Prisoner archive on the right 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.