The Cuban Commission on Human Rights and National Reconciliation reported lin June 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: Aracelio Ribeaux Noa, Ernesto Riverí Gascon and Lázaro Romero Hurtado.
Each an activist with the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU), they were arrested Nov. 27, 2012, after they were the victims of an "act of repudiation" by a mob organized and ordered by the secret police. At least one of them, Riveri, was arrested while leaving a birthday party.
They didn't get their day in court -- such as it is in Cuba -- until this past June 13, when they and seven other activists stood trial in Santiago de Cuba. Since only family members were allowed in the courtroom, several dozen other members of UNPACU and the Damas De Blanco ("Ladies In White") stood vigil outside.
The activists each faced charges of "disrespect," "resistance," "public disorder" and "threatening," the common litany of charges the regime uses when targeting its opposition. Prosecutors sought 2-year sentences for Ribeaux and Riveri and 5 years for Romero, according to the human rights commission.
"The trial was manipulated by the political police," said Erick Díaz Terrero, a relative of one of the defendants.
Four of the other activists tried were not included on the human rights commission's list of political prisoners. But the other three -- the brothers Alexi, Bianco and Diango Vargas Martin -- have been named by Amnesty International as "prisoners of conscience."
The defendants were scheduled to hear the court's verdict and sentencing on July 1, but the final result could not be determined. However, Castro's prosecutors almost always get what they want.