UPDATED, Feb. 11, 2011 — Rafael Jorrín will be released and take exile in Spain, according to the Catholic Church.
Courtesy of the Castro dictatorship — and the United States of America — Rafael Jorrín García has been in a Cuban prison since September 1997. That's when American military authorities at the Guántanamo Bay Naval Base handed Jorrín, who had tried to flee the island on a boat, over to Cuban officials. The next year, Jorrín was tried, convicted of piracy, illegal exit, possession of a weapon and counterfeiting and sentenced to 20 years in prison.
I couldn't learn too many additional details of how Jorrín tried to escape Cuba, but I would never condone anything that might be called "piracy," even as how it might be defined by the Castro dictatorship. However, the true nature of that dictatorship, and of the every-day-is-hell quality of life in Cuba, is revealed by the fact that it is illegal to leave Cuba without the permission of the government. Some may disqualify Cubans like Jorrín from carrying the label as a "political" prisoner, but there should be no doubt that his "crime" is political for how it represents a rejection of everything about the dictatorship.
The whole island is a prison — there are hundreds, if not thousands of other prisoners jailed on the same charges as Jorrín — and accepting that is key to understanding what must change for Cuba to be free. Unfortunately, American officials failed to recognize that before forcing Jorrín to face Castro "justice."
There are also few details on Jorrín's incarceration, although I did find a couple of mentions of him as at one time being president of the Pedro Luis Boitel political prisoners organization.
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.