Roberto de Miranda Hernandez.
Roberto de Miranda Hernandez
Roberto de Miranda Professor and head of the College of Independent Teachers of Cuba, 20 year sentence.
Born in the province of Camaguey in 1946, Roberto de Miranda is a civic activist who was sentenced to 20 years in prison on April 3, 2003. He was arrested, tried and sentenced under Article 91 of the Cuban Penal Code. Under this article, those who "execute an act with the objective of causing detrimental suffering to the independence of the Cuban state or to the integrity of its territory, in the interest of a foreign state, will incur a deprivation of liberty of ten to twenty years or death."
Roberto de Miranda strenuously denies all of the charges against him and maintains that he has been imprisoned solely for expressing his non-violent beliefs and opinions.
While working as a professor of mathematics in the 1980s, de Miranda was fired from his post by school administrators for his alleged refusal to participate in public political acts and for refusing to pass students who did not have the necessary grades. The charges against Mr. de Miranda refer to his role as the president of the College of Independent Teachers of Cuba (Colegio de Pedagogos de Cuba), a non-governmental organization that he founded in July 1992 that seeks "the de-ideologization of education in Cuba and denounces violations against students and professors that do not share the political ideals of the system."
Roberto de Miranda also founded the Félix Varela Independent Library in July 2000, and supported the Varela Project, a non-violent citizens' legislative initiative for democratic reforms in Cuba.
Roberto de Miranda received the 2003 Pedro Luis Boitel Freedom Award while in prison, an honor given by a jury of scholars, activists and political leaders from around the world. He was given the award by former Bulgarian Prime Minister Philip Dimitrov who said during the ceremony, "Roberto de Miranda has been dedicated for many years to the promotion of free thought and has made important progress. The Castro regime abhors these types of people because they represent an independent civil society, which is one of the largest threats facing the government." The award is given annually to a Cuban who has displayed courageous nonviolent resistance to the Cuban regime in honor of Pedro Luis Boitel, a Cuban dissident who died in prison after a 53 day hunger strike.
There is serious concern for the health and well-being of Roberto de Miranda who suffered from a heart attack while in prison in April 2003. Cuban authorities recently informed his wife that Mr. de Miranda is in need of open-heart surgery. The family is concerned about this procedure being carried out while he remains in detention, separated from them.
Also see: http://www.internationalpen.org.uk/index.php?pid=33&aid=172&return=33