Published Online: September 17, 2003
Published in Print: September 17, 2003, as International

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Dissident Honored

Though he remains in a Cuban prison for his anti-government activism, dissident teacher and union organizer Roberto Miranda continues to see his profile grow outside the nation.

Roberto Miranda

Mr. Miranda, 53, was awarded the Pedro Luis Boitel Freedom Award last month by Bulgaria's former prime minister and democracy leader Philip Dimitrov. The award was established in 2001 with the backing of several Eastern and Central European human-rights organizations to recognize members of Cuba's opposition movement.

Mr. Miranda was jailed in April along with 74 other dissidents arrested in a crackdown on activists who have challenged the government of President Fidel Castro. Mr. Miranda is serving a 20-year sentence.

In an interview with Education Week in February, Mr. Miranda said he was fired from his teaching job in the 1980s for failing to promote Communist ideals with his students. (A Revolutionary Education," March 5, 2003.) He went on to help start the College of Independent Teachers, which seeks an end to what it sees as the political indoctrination of students in government-run schools.

At the Aug. 5 award presentation in Miami, Lucrecia Rodríguez, a friend and collaborator of Mr. Miranda's, accepted the award on his behalf. Several years ago, Mr. Miranda helped put Ms. Rodríguez and her support group for sons and daughters of Cuban political dissidents in touch with young people on the island. "He works very hard," she said last week. "I was very honored to represent him."

Mr. Miranda was also featured in an opinion column in the Aug. 22 edition of The Wall Street Journal.

The former teacher suffers from high blood pressure and has had one heart attack since being taken into custody.

Last week, Soledad Rivas, visited her jailed husband. According to a conversation with the Miami-based Cuban Democratic Directorate, she was alarmed by his poor condition. "I fear for his life, and I hold the Cuban government responsible for anything that may happen to him," she said, according to a transcript provided by the organization. "I want my husband back alive."

—Robert C. Johnston

Vol. 23, Issue 3, Page 10

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