UPDATED, Aug. 22, 2010 -- Ricardo Gonzalez was released from prison in July 2010, under a deal reached by Spain, the Catholic Church and the Castro dictatorship.
Ricardo González Alfonso
Ricardo González Alfonso was one of the more accomplished independent journalists/independent librarians/pro-freedom activists jailed during the Cuban "black spring" of 2003, and he has lived up to that status during his more than six years as a captive in the Castro gulag. Despite the tortures and other horrors his captors throw at him, he has remained true to his principles and to the cause of freedom in Cuba.
Reporters Without Borders in 2008 named González its Reporter of the Year, and last week he completed his "25 days for freedom and justice," during which he limited himself to a liquid diet to demand the release of Cuban prisoners of conscience and political prisoners.
I first wrote about González in January 2006, as part of the "March 18 Project," a series of profiles of imprisoned Cuban journalists. (The series was the precursor for the subsequent Political Prisoner of the Week feature on this blog.)
González is deserving of all the attention he can get, which is why it was encouraging to see this TV news report last week about him. If only such stories could be done about all Cuban prisoners of conscience to raise public awareness about their plight.
However, that is not why I am again featuring González's case.
Instead, I offer this week's profile as a tribute to his older sister, Olga Alonso, a major source for the recent TV news report.
Alonso, who has lived in the United States for 45 years, recently posted videotaped pleas, in English and in Spanish , for the international community to pressure the Castro regime to release her brother.
"We are extremely concerned about his health, and we fear for his life," Alonso said. "I beg you to please help us. Contact your local senator or congressman, your local media, TV, radio, newspaper. Anything you can do to pressure the Cuban government to release my brother and his fellow political prisoners."
I can only imagine the desperation Alonso must feel, fearing she will never see her brother again. I don't have the skill to put her feelings into words.
The least we can do is to let her, and her brother, know that they are not alone.