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Cuban prison inmate Roberto Antonio Rivalta Junco died Saturday after 38 days on hunger strike to protest his innocence and his imprisonment without benefit of a trial, according to the Cuban Democratic Directorate.
The protest was Rivalta's, but his death -- like that of thousands of Cubans before him -- lies at the blood-soaked hands of the Castro dictatorship, specificially, a Major Luis Alcántara, chief of the regime's prisons in Villa Clara province.
Until Friday, officials at the La Pendiente prison in Santa Clara had held Rivalta, 38, in a punishment cell, denying him much-needed medical care. A prison doctor had recommended that Rivalta, who was missing a lung, be transferred to the Arnaldo Miliam Castro hospital in Santa Clara. But instead he was moved to the hospital at another prison, Guamajal, which was unable to provided needed care and where he died.
"They let him die in prison," said Rivalta's mother, Doraida Junco Agüero, as quoted in a press release issued in Spanish by the Miami-based Cuban Democratic Directorate. (Go below the fold to the read the release in Spanish.)
The Directorate said Rivalta's death "confirms once again the systematic use of cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment in prisons in Cuba against detainees, as well as the denial of medical care leading to the loss of human lives."
It is tragic that so many prisoners, whether they are "political" or not, resort to hunger strikes in their search for justice in Cuba. As admirable as their courage might be, their protest is in most cases futile because their jailers, the Castro dictatorship and its agents, does not care whether they live or die.
That disregard for life and that disregard for justice make the regime in the case of Roberto Antonio Rivalta Junco. such as in the prior cases of Pedro Luis Boitel, Orlando Zapata and so many others, guilty of murder.
Listen to Rivalta's mother's description of what happened to her son:
UPDATED, Feb. 19, 2013 -- 11 Cuban activists were arrested this past weekend while trying to attend Rivalta's funeral.
UPDATED, Feb. 19, 2013 -- More details about what happened to Rivalta are available to here, including that he started his hunger strike soon after he was arrested Jan. 10 on a charge of armed robbery, which Rivalta denied.
Also, Rivalta's sister talks about what happened to her brother: