José Angel Luque Álvarez
UPDATED, Jan. 4, 2011 — José Angel Luque was released from jail on Christmas Day, 2010.
UPDATED, Sept. 23, 2010 — Cuban independent journalist Dania Virgen García reports that she has been threatened with as much as 20 years of imprisonment if she continues reporting about José Angel Luque Álvarez.
UPDATED, Sept. 20, 2010 — José Angel Luque Álvarez's family fears he could die within days because of his hunger strike.
Stretching the entire island, the Castro gulag is the final stop for thousands of men and women making their way through the Cuban injustice system, from arrest to summary trial to imprisonment.
Many, however, do not quit fighting for justice just because they have ended up behind bars. They continue their struggle, demanding that their rights — and the rights of all Cubans — be respected.
At times, they take extreme measures and lay their lives on the line for what is right.
That describes José Angel Luque Álvarez's ordeal, who since Aug. 9 has been on a hunger strike to demand a proper investigation of a prison official he says sexually abused him and his release from jail.
Luque, who has been in prison since 2007 on a charge of "disrespect," was briefly hospitalized earlier this month because of the ill effects of his protest. But he has since be returned to prison, despite the fact he has completed his sentence.
Luque started his hunger strike after he and another inmate reported they had been threatened with reprisals for communicating with a Cuban independent journalist, according to a report from another journalist, Dania Virgen García.
Luque's case not only reveals the cruel injustice that underlies so much of life in Cuba, in and out of the gulag.
He also is an example of the hundreds, if not thousands, of Cuban political prisoners forgotten and/or ignored by the Spanish government and the Catholic Archdiocese of Havana when they extended a lifeline to the Castro regime with a deal to release and expel from the island 52 members of the "Group of 75" still imprisoned since 2003.
Although occurring under terms of a very bad deal, those releases are welcome.
But it is no excuse to forget about Luque and other political prisoners who remain in jail, even if the dictatorship — and Spain and the church — would want us to.