Each of Cuba's political prisoners is a hero deserving of admiration and respect. That's why so much of this blog is dedicated to telling the stories, for they are at the vanguard of the struggle for liberty in Cuba, eyewitnesses to the worst horrors of the Cuban dictatorship.
Those closest to my heart are the imprisoned independent journalists. We share not only the same blood, as Cubans, but also the same vocation. They may never have been the "professional" journalist that I am, but then I have never had to show a fraction of the courage they showed when working as reporters and editors and now as prisoners of conscience in the Castro gulag.
The first Cuban political prisoner I profiled on this blog was independent journalist Víctor Rolando Arroyo Carmona, and because he was first, I thank him for the inspiration to bring the proper focus to this online journal.
Arroyo, who in 2003 was sentenced to 26 years in prison, continues to inspire.
Radio Martí reports that despite his poor health - he has respiratory and dental problems and he can barely hear — Arroyo has started a hunger strike to protest the human rights abuses at the Kilo 5 1/2 prison in Piñar del Rio, where he is being held.
Protest-by-suicide is not acceptable, but you have to acknowledge that in the Castro gulag, hunger strikes are a power weapon of protest, the best and, in fact, only way political prisoners have to demonstrate their disgust with their captors and their unwillingness to accept the terms of their captivity.
The best witnesses to this are the dictatorship and its prison guards themselves. Just consider how they respond when a political prisoner starts a hunger strike.
Recently, one prisoner had 10 years added to his already lengthy prison sentence as punishment for his hunger strike. The payback for another hunger striking prisoner was a stint in a tiny isolation cell.
No word on whether or how Arroyo is being punished for his protest, but it really doesn't matter.
Arroyo is a true believer in his cause, and nothing his guards can do to him will change that.