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New on the Freedom Collection: José Luis García Paneque

February 1, 2013 3 minute Read by Lindsay Lloyd

Vea esta entrada de blog en español aquí.Watch the new interview with José Luis García Paneque, a Cuban dissident and former prisoner of conscience, on the Freedom Collection.  Dr. García Paneque studied and practiced medicine, specializing in plastic surgery.   In 1998, he became active as a dissident, joining the Freedom Press Agency, an alternative journalism project.  In 2000, he became the initiative’s director.  For his activism, he was removed from his position at the hospital where he worked. Dr. García Paneque describes his journey to becoming a dissident:  “I realized that the system under which I lived was a lie.  It was all false.  From that moment on my life started being totally different.  The Berlin Wall came down.  The regime fell into a crisis.  Opposing groups started appearing within the island.  People began to have other ideas and other interests.   And it is really here that my activism began.“ In March 2003, Dr. García Paneque was among the 75 dissidents who were arrested in the crackdown known as the Black Spring.  He was summarily sentenced to 24 years in prison.   He was imprisoned for seven years and four months, two years of which were in solitary confinement.  The harsh conditions in prison caused him to lose half of his body weight, posing life-threatening consequences to his health. He discusses the conditions of his imprisonment:  “I was in a 3 square meter cell with poor ventilation and with water service for only 5 minutes once a day.  I was held in this type of cell for 23 hours per day and I was allowed to go out for one hour to other cells without a roof so that I could see the sunlight.  The rest of the time I was sent again to my cell and I was kept in isolation.  Nobody could talk to me.  I could not communicate with anybody; I simply was there.” In 2010, he was released in negotiations brokered by the Roman Catholic Church.  As a condition of his release, Dr. García Paneque was required to leave Cuba. Since leaving his homeland, Dr. García Paneque has overseen the Freedom Observatory project, which is associated with the Institute of Strategic and International Studies at the Catholic University of Valencia in Spain.  He currently lives in Florida. Watch his interview here. Vea esta entrada de blog en español aquí. This post was written by Lindsay Lloyd, Program Director of the Freedom Collection.  Follow him on Twitter at@WLindsayLloyd.


Author

Lindsay Lloyd
Lindsay Lloyd

Lindsay Lloyd is the Deputy Director of the Human Freedom Initiative at the George W. Bush Institute, where he manages original research and programmatic efforts to advance freedom and democracy in the world. Lindsay currently leads the Bush Institute’s Freedom in North Korea project, which raises awareness of human rights violations in North Korea, proposes new policy solutions, and engages leaders to help improve the lives of the North Korean people.  Lindsay is also responsible for managing the Freedom Collection, a multimedia archive that documents the stories of nonviolent freedom advocates from around the word. 

Prior to joining the Bush Institute, Lindsay served for 16 years at the International Republican Institute (IRI), most recently as senior advisor for policy.   Previously, he was IRI’s regional director for Europe and co-director of the regional program for Central and Eastern Europe, which was based in Slovakia.  At IRI, Lindsay worked with candidates, elected officials, political parties, and civil society activists to develop lasting democratic institutions.

Before joining IRI, Lindsay worked for several members and the leadership of the U.S. House of Representatives, as political director for a political action committee, and for Jack Kemp’s 1988 presidential campaign. He graduated from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service. 

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