The typical Cuban political prisoner does not wallow in his own predicament or suffering. He is not even content to just do his time in silence.
Instead, he willfully take on a new role as a witness to the worst of the Castro dictatorship's tyranny, and does whatever he can — at risk of great peril for himself — to inform the world on the evil he sees.
Humberto Becerra Alfonso is one of these correspondents on the front lines of the struggle for liberty, serving as a source of information about the abuses and the horrors of the Castro gulag.
For example, this past September Becerra described for independent journalist Guillermo Fariñas how prisoners at the Ariza prison in Cienfuegos were suffering because of inadequate medical care.
The next month, Becerra described for journalist Yoel Espinosa Medrano how prisoner Juan Carlos Padilla Cabrera, a convicted armed robber, had hanged himself.
"For some time Juan Carlos had been suffering depression and said that he could no longer stand the conditions and insults in the jail," Becerra said.
The truth is a dangerous thing for the dictatorship, so it soon afterward moved to silence Becerra and to cut off his reports of conditions in prison.
In mid-October, Becerra was thrown into a tiny, poorly ventilated punishment cell, his only companion a convicted murderer. The floor is wet because of the cell's proximity to a bathroom, and a 20-watt light bulb is left on 24 hours a day, making it difficult to sleep.
Officials had been warning Becerra since at least August that he would be punished if he continued informing independent journalists about prison conditions.
(As of early December, Becerra remained in the punishment cell. Information on his current status was not available.)
Becerra has been imprisoned since 1992, when he was sentenced to 20 years in prison stealing and slaughtering cattle — not the typical political "crime," unless viewed in the context of the revolution's inability to adequately feed the Cuban people.
"The crime of 'theft and slaughtering cattle' is a legal aberration, designed to prevent the public consumption of red meat," journalist Félix Reyes Gutiérrez wrote in November, in a report about Becerra. "For its application, you do not need the theft, just for someone to slaughter their cow in order to eat the meat. The death of a cow is punished more harshly than a homicide."
If that is not to establish Becerra's bona fides as a political prisoner, just remember how hard the dictatorship is now trying to silence him.