The Cuban Commission on Human Rights and National Reconciliation reported this week that by its count, there are currently at least 114 political prisoners in Cuban jails, up from 102 at the end of 2013. (Read the list of prisoners here.)
Today and on each of the next 100 days or so I'm going to try to honor these brave Cubans by sharing their names and little about their respective stories. Ever since I started this blog, I have felt it vital to remember their names, names the regime would rather have the world never know. That is the only way to fully grasp the injustices they are suffering.
Today's prisoner is Miguel Alvarez and his wife Mercedes Arce.
Alvarez and Arce are not typical of the Cuban political prisoners usually profiled on Uncommon Sense, in that he formerly was a top official of the dictatorship who for whatever reason -- his changing political views or he actually did something wrong -- in 2012 he was purged from the regime and later sentenced to a lengthy prison term for unspecified crimes.
The Miami Herald reported earlier this year that Alvarez, a former top aide to former Cuban parliament speaker Ricardo Alaracon, had been caught spying. His wife also was implicated:
A top aide to one of Cuba’s veteran political figures, Ricardo Alarcón, and the aide’s wife, have been convicted of spying and sentenced to 30 and 15 years in prison, according to persons close to the case.
Miguel Alvarez and Mercedes Arce, both former Cuban intelligence analysts in their 50s, were tried and convicted in December, the persons said, 22 months after they were detained in Havana for interrogation on March 3, 2012.
Alvarez was sentenced to 30 years on charges that he leaked secret information to Arce, according to the sources. Arce got the lesser sentence for allegedly using the information to write analytical reports on Cuba that she sold to private companies in Mexico.
Alvarez is the most senior Cuban official known to have been convicted of spying against the communist government in decades. At least three other Cubans are imprisoned on the island for spying, including two former Interior Ministry officials.
(Read the whole thing here.)
I am not prepared to say whether Alvarez truly belongs on the list of political prisoners. It is difficult to judge since there was no transparency in the proceedings against him or his wife. For now, I leave the benefit of the doubt to the human rights commission, which includes on its list of political prisoners the names of several Castro regime officials.