In a free country, it almost is a patriotic duty to "disrespect" the nation's leaders when they somehow fall short of what they promised and/or of what the governed were hoping for when they went to the polls. It's one way we hold them to account, at least until we have the chance to vote them out of office.
In Cuba, of course, voting the dictators out of office is not only not possible, it is a crime to even suggest that the dictators are not worth the people's hopes or even their respect.
One Cuban convicted of such a "crime" was Miguel Ángel López Herrera, who in August 2005 was sentenced to three years in prison for "disrespecting the figure of Fidel Castro." A member of the November 30 Frank País Movement, López had been arrested the previous May and charged with writing graffiti calling for the release of political prisoners on a wall at the state library in Guantanamo. (Before his arrest, he already had lost his job as a computer sciences professor.)
In prison, the dictatorship has repaid López with disrespect of its own.
On May 23, López, 42, used a wire to sew his mouth shut, after guards refused to let him see his 17-year-old daughter who had been seriously injured in a traffic accident. Prison officials relented five days later and allowed López to see his daughter, who had a broken pelvis and 40 stitches on her head.
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.