The Cuban Commission on Human Rights and National Reconciliation reported last month 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.)
Uncommon Sense is attempting 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 prisoners are Sonia Garro Alfonso and her husband Ramon Alejandro Munoz.
Garro, a member of the Damas De Blanco, or "Ladies In White," and Munoz were arrested during a crackdown preceding the visit to Cuba in March 2012 of Pope Benedict XVI.
On 17 March in the Cuban capital, Havana, the Ladies in White (Damas de Blanco) were demonstrating peacefully to commemorate the anniversary of the 2003 crackdown on dissidents, when 18 of them were arrested and taken to police stations across the city. All but Niurka Luque Álvarez, were released a few hours later.
The following day, Lady in White Sonia Garro Alfonso, and her husband, Ramón Alejandro Muñoz González, were arrested at their home in Havana: around 50 police forced their way into the house and fired rubber bullets at them. According to her sister, Sonia Garro Alfonso was wounded in the foot by one of these bullets.
Since then the two women have been sent to various detention centres, and are now held in Guatao women's prison in the outskirts of Havana. Ramón Alejandro Muñoz González is being held in Havana's Combinado del Este prison. Both women are reported to be in poor health. Sonia Garro Alfonso was suffering a kidney problem before her arrest that may require surgery. According to her daughter, Niurka Luque Álvarez regularly suffers epileptic fits. The women are allowed visits every week, and Ramón Alejandro Muñoz González every two weeks.
Although all three have access to a lawyer, it is not clear what they have been charged with. Relatives told Amnesty International that the authorities have accused Sonia Garro Alfonso of attempted murder and public disorder, but none of them has been formally charged. They have yet to be told if or when they will be put on trial. They think they were arrested because of the visit of the Pope Benedict XVI to Cuba in March 2012 and their activism with the Ladies in White, and that it is intended to intimidate other government critics.
Garro and her husband were later charged. Prosecutors are seeking 10 years in prison for Garro and 14 years for Munoz, which would be some of the harshest punishments handed down to Cuban opposition activists since the "black spring" of 2003.
They had been set to stand trial June 30, 2014, but it was inexplicably delayed.
This week, Garro complained to Radio Marti in an interview from jail, that she has not been advised of the status of any proceedings against her.