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Arturo Perez de Alejo Rodríguez was born in Manicarauga, Cuba on May 23, 1951. He received a degree in topography and worked in several different fields, including as a subsistence farmer and as a surveyor. As a young man, Arturo believed the 1959 Cuban Revolution that brought Fidel Castro to power would change Cuba for the better.

Arturo soon became disenchanted with the Castro regime. He was drafted into military service and sent as part of a Cuban force in Angola’s civil war during the 1970s. As a soldier, he witnessed acts of brutality that sharply contrasted with the official version of events.

In 1980, thousands of Cuban citizens stormed the Peruvian Embassy seeking asylum to escape from the Castro regime. Following the incident, the regime announced it would allow people to leave Cuba, but privately, the government encouraged its supporters to harass and brutalize those fleeing the island. The events at the Embassy of Peru led Arturo to break with the government.

In the 1990s, Arturo became more active in the Cuban opposition. In 2001, he founded the Escambray Human Rights Front, which monitored human rights violations in the region. Arturo was arrested in March 2003, as one of 75 nonviolent dissidents during a massive crackdown known as the Black Spring. He was subjected to a summary trial and sentenced to 20 years in prison for his opposition to the Castro regime.

After more than seven years as a prisoner of conscience, Arturo was freed in 2010 when the Catholic Church and the Spanish government negotiated the release of the 75 Black Spring prisoners. He and his family were exiled to Spain where they lived for several years, before resettling in the United States. 

The situation in Cuba is unique because unfortunately any person outside of Cuba knows more about Cuba than the Cuban themselves who live on the island. The constitution of the Republic of Cuba, that piece of paper written by Jose Martí, that constitution that is completely anti-democratic- liberticide is stipulated in Article 53 where it defines very clearly an information monopoly. It states that only those who conform to the socialist ideas have permission to write and publish. To conform to the ideas of socialism and communism.

Anyone who opposes this does not have the freedom to write and publish. If the Cuban population recognizes these leaders, it is because these leaders have been able to represent a section of their society. Or by means of communicating to the masses controlled by the state like a roundtable or the news. These forms of media with their very unique ways to lie to the people were recognized by Fidel Castro in a statement he made at the Assembly of Latin American Sociologists in 2003. And how did I know about this? Through the Cuban media.

They see them as mercenaries, as corrupt people, as people with their own agenda. As a person who is not interested in the Cuban population. They are against everything. They are fighting so that the Cuban people do not live in misery anymore, to live based on need and they live more exploited than before. Unfortunately that's how it is. But that is why the Cuban people need more information. There has to be a way to create media in an independent form, an alternative form of information without the daily censorship in Cuba. And by means of this media, these leaders who are respected people can be known to the Cuban people. They would be able to give their discourses, programs, political and ideological thoughts so that the people can begin to follow them.

Practically, there is a state of silence in Cuba. The leaders do not allow people to leave their houses. Jose Luis García Pérez practically lives as a recluse in his house. He cannot leave, cannot even go to the front porch of his house because the police will come quickly, enter his house, and put him back inside. He is to stay in the house or be arrested. And that's how a lot of the resistance leaders live in Cuba. That's the reality of those who live and grow up in Cuba. A lot of people who listen to Radio Martí are sympathizers. 100% of them although I do not know them personally but I have heard them speak. 

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Arturo Perez De Alejo Rodriguez: Arrest, Trial and Prison Arturo discusses his arrest and imprisonment during the Black Spring. Arturo Perez De Alejo Rodriguez: Why I Became a Dissident Arturo discusses his early life and fighting in the Angolan Civil War. More +