That most of my journalistic colleagues have never heard of Cuban independent journalist Calixto Ramon Martinez Arias is disappointing.
After all, he is one of our own, doing work most of us believe is essential for a free society -- even if Cuba isn't -- so well and so dilligently, that on Sept. 16 it earned him a dark, cramped, decrepit spot in the Castro gulag.
If anyone should speak out on Martinez's behalf, shouldn't it be his fellow journalists, most of whom like to brag about how in their jobs, they get to act on behalf of the downtrodden and to speak truth to power.
The silence, however, is not suprising.
Because that is how most the world, including most in the medi, treats -- or better put, forgets -- those Cubans, like Martinez, with the courage to put at risk what little freedom they enjoy, to demand and work for a better nation.
The reasons for this indifference and ignorance are many. Among them, are lingering romantic notions about the Castro dictatorship, that it is some sort of David standing up to the Goliath yanquis, and that all Cuba needs is for the United States to change how it acts towards Havana.
This indifference and ignorance is at the root of much of the journalistic malpractice when it comes to Cuba.
And because of it, Calixto Martinez, who as of today has been on hunger strike for 23 days, may die in their silence.
Cuban independent journalist Martinez faces up to three years in prison on a charge of "disrespecting the figures of Fidel and Raul Castro" after he was arrested Sept. 16 at Jose Marti International Airport.
Martinez, 42, a correspondent with the CIHPRESS news agency, had gone to the airport to investigate the condition of several tons of medications and medical equipment donated by the World Health Organizationn that somehow had ruined.
Martinez, who has been detained numerous times before, earlier this summer broke the story about an outbreak of cholera and dengue on the island.
Under the Cuban penal code, a charge of "disrespect" carries a punishment of up to 3 years in prison. The dictatorship frequently uses the charge to target its political opponents.
"He is the most active journalist in our agency, and they want to silence him in this way," said Roberto Guerra, head of CIHPRESS.
Recently, the Martinez case turned more dire when on Nov. 10 he started a hunger strike to demand his right to be treated as a political prisoner, and not as a common criminal. Earlier today, Guerra reported via Twitter that other inmates had confirmed that Martinez was continuing with his protest.
Martinez is withering in a Cuban prison because like a true journalist, he spoke truth to power, a power that for its almost 53 years has maintained a blockade on information as a means to its survival.
Independent journalists like Martinez and his colleagues at CIHPRESS are a threat to that survival.
They are not seeking fame or fortune or some other journalistic glory.
They only want their nation to be free, and understand that is only possible in a country like Cuba if they follow the true precepts of their craft and tell the truth, whatever the consequences.
Theirs is an example that when it comes to Cuba, more of my colleagues need to follow.
The least we could do for him is to cover his story.
Like many other independent journalists on the island, Martinez is a graduate of a Florida International University journalism course offered via teleconference at the U.S. Interest Section in Havana.
Join Uncommon Sense in telling his story and demanding that the Castro regime free Calixto Martinez NOW!