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New on the Freedom Collection: Regis Iglesias Ramirez

Article by Lindsay Lloyd February 1, 2013 //   3 minute read

Vea esta entrada de blog en español aquí.Watch the new interview with Regis Iglesias Ramirez, a Cuban political and civil society activist and a former prisoner of conscience. He became a member of the Christian Liberation Movement (MCL), a dissident group, in 1989.  The MCL was founded by the late Cuban dissident Oswaldo Paya, who died under mysterious circumstances in a car accident earlier this year.  Regis became the MCL’s spokesman and a member of its leadership in 1996. He is a key activist of the Varela Project, a civil society initiative advocating for free elections and improved human rights in Cuba.  The Varela Project gathered signatures from Cuban citizens in favor of a plebiscite, as permitted by the Cuban constitution.  The communist government refused to call the plebiscite. As a teenager, Regis began to think as a dissident.  He turned to the Catholic Church and rock music as outlets to express his rising resistance to the stultifying conditions in Cuba.  He said, “Describing the situation in which a normal Cuban lives, grows, and dies is simple.  They’re individuals who are completely dependent on the state for food and clothing, for acquiring shoes or finding employment, for getting paid for their work, coming in and out of the country, for having housing, a car, or a telephone or the Internet.  Cubans are cut off from all freedoms.  That is the life of an ordinary Cuban.” In 2003, Regis was among 75 nonviolent dissidents and activists arrested by the Cuban regime in what became known as the Black Spring.  He was sentenced to 18 years in prison, but he reflected, “Prison is just another event that a human rights or civil rights activist is liable to go through when living under tyranny.” In 2010, he was released in a deal brokered by the Roman Catholic Church and was sent into exile in Spain, where he remains as a political refugee. Regis speaks to the challenges faced by dissidents and freedom activists:  “They’re not alone even when they’re thrown in a dark, isolated cell. All the people of good faith, all the free spirits of the world will be with them, and God will be with them as well.” Watch the interview with Regis Iglesias Ramirez here. Lindsay Lloyd is Program Director of the Freedom Collection