Prison must make the Cuban man stronger and more fearless.
How else to explain the continued activism, the continued and renewed intransigence of so many former political prisoners who instead of being cowed by their experiences in the gulag, emerge more committed than ever to Cuban freedom. They risk a return to prison — for their "parole" is little more than a piece of paper — but they already know that jail will not break them. They are already free men, and nothing will take it away. They have faced the beast, defeated it and if needed, are ready for a rematch as part of their continued struggle.
So what the hell was the Castro dictatorship thinking last week when it revoked Benito Ortega Suárez's parole and returned him to prison? It must have been panic or desperation, or just another example of how out of touch it is with the destiny of the Cuban nation, to think it can forestall the inevitable by just packing its dungeons with freedom's warriors.
Ortega, who is now in his early 50s, was arrested in October 2001, and sentenced to 11 years in prison, for allegedly assaulting a police officer, although the facts suggest that Ortega was defending himself against a police assault.
Officials in July 2007 granted parole to Ortega and released him, allowing him to resume his opposition activities.
Just a month later, police officers beat Ortega, a member of the Frank País 30th of November Democratic Movement, as he was distributing copies of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and this past February, he was arrested and expelled from Havana and sent back to his home province of Matanzas.
And in May, he participated in protests lead by another former political prisoner, Jorge Luis García Pérez "Antúnez."
This past week, the dictatorship finally had enough with Ortega.
Ortega and another ex-prisoner, Lenin Córdova García, were leaving the Caibarién home of leading dissident Margarito Broche Espinosa, when they were stopped and arrested by police and taken to State Security headquarters in Santa Clara.
Córdova was released, but an official told Ortega's wife that her husband was being ordered to complete the 30 months remaining in his original sentence because he had failed to maintain "a civic attitude in accordance with the principles of a socialist society."
If you are going to violate your parole in communist Cuba, that is the best way to do it.
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 email@example.com
For profiles of imprisoned Cuban journalists and related information, read the March 18 Project.