UPDATED, Feb. 27, 2011 — The Catholic Church announced Feb. 26, 2011, that Mario Pérez would be released and deported to Spain.
In Cuba, protests matter.
Not only do they reveal the true will of people brave enough to stand up to tyranny, sometimes they actually force the dictatorship's hand.
Last month, former political prisoner Jorge Luis García Pérez "Antúnez," lead a sit-in protest outside the Matanzas headquarters for the Cuban secret police, demanding better care for his brother-in-law, Mario Alberto Pérez Aguilera. Activists from around the country joined Antúnez, one of the leading lions of the Cuban dissidence movement, in his protest on behalf of his family member.
Pérez in 2006 was sentenced to 10 years in prison for a supposed common crime he committed. Antúnez, however, wrote that his imprisonment was in retaliation for his anti-government activities.
Whether it got Pérez better treatment remains to be seen, but the protests may have swayed prison officials to allow Antúnez and his wife, Iris Tamara Pérez Aguilera, to visit the prisoner, according to a dispatch written by Antúnez.
During the visit, Mario Pérez recounted the abuses and tortures he has suffered for refusing to wear a prison uniform — a common form of protest for Cuban political prisoners. Pérez said on numerous occasions, he has been handcuffed and shackled as guards forcibly dress him in prison garb. When he takes the uniform off, the guards beat him.
On one occasion, guards sprayed him with pepper spray to try to stifle his chants of anti-government and anti-communist slogans.
Pérez said he is sure that the protests lead by his sister and brother-in-law save his life, as a prison official told him he would soon be transfered to a prison in his home province of Sancti Spiritus.
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 at firstname.lastname@example.org
For profiles of imprisoned Cuban journalists and related information, read the March 18 Project.