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Pedro Luis Boitel

Pedro Luis Boitel

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Pedro Luis Boitel was a Cuban
Cubans
Cubans or Cuban people are the inhabitants or citizens of Cuba. Cuba is a multi-ethnic nation, home to people of different ethnic and national backgrounds...

 poet and dissident
Dissident
A dissident, broadly defined, is a person who actively challenges an established doctrine, policy, or institution. When dissidents unite for a common cause they often effect a dissident movement....

 who opposed the governments of both Fulgencio Batista
Fulgencio Batista
Fulgencio Batista y Zaldívar was the United States-aligned Cuban President, dictator and military leader who served as the leader of Cuba from 1933 to 1944 and from 1952 to 1959, before being overthrown as a result of the Cuban Revolution....

 and Fidel Castro
Fidel Castro
Fidel Alejandro Castro Ruz is a Cuban revolutionary and politician, having held the position of Prime Minister of Cuba from 1959 to 1976, and then President from 1976 to 2008. He also served as the First Secretary of the Communist Party of Cuba from the party's foundation in 1961 until 2011...

. In 1961, the regime sentenced him to 10 years in prison.

Boitel died during a hunger strike
Hunger strike
A hunger strike is a method of non-violent resistance or pressure in which participants fast as an act of political protest, or to provoke feelings of guilt in others, usually with the objective to achieve a specific goal, such as a policy change. Most hunger strikers will take liquids but not...

 in prison in 1972 while serving a sentence handed down by the communist regime.

Before the revolution


Pedro Luis Boitel was born into a humble family originally from Picardy (France), and studied at the University of Havana
University of Havana
The University of Havana or UH is a university located in the Vedado district of Havana, Cuba. Founded in 1728, the University of Havana is the oldest university in Cuba, and one of the first to be founded in the Americas...

 while also working as a radio technician. In the 1950s Boitel opposed the government of Fulgencio Batista
Fulgencio Batista
Fulgencio Batista y Zaldívar was the United States-aligned Cuban President, dictator and military leader who served as the leader of Cuba from 1933 to 1944 and from 1952 to 1959, before being overthrown as a result of the Cuban Revolution....

 and went into exile in Venezuela
Venezuela
Venezuela , officially called the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela , is a tropical country on the northern coast of South America. It borders Colombia to the west, Guyana to the east, and Brazil to the south...

 where he collaborated with Rómulo Betancourt
Rómulo Betancourt
Rómulo Ernesto Betancourt Bello , known as "The Father of Venezuelan Democracy", was President of Venezuela from 1945 to 1948 and again from 1959 to 1964, as well as leader of Accion Democratica, Venezuela's dominant political party in the 20th century...

 in his efforts to overthrow Marcos Pérez Jiménez
Marcos Pérez Jiménez
Marcos Evangelista Pérez Jiménez was a soldier and Presidents of Venezuela from 1952 to 1958.-Career:Marcos Evangelista Pérez Jiménez was born in Michelena, Táchira State. His father, Juan Pérez Bustamante, was a farmer; his mother, Adela Jiménez, a schoolteacher...

's military government by setting up a pirate radio
Pirate radio
Pirate radio is illegal or unregulated radio transmission. The term is most commonly used to describe illegal broadcasting for entertainment or political purposes, but is also sometimes used for illegal two-way radio operation...

 in that country.

After the Cuban Revolution
Cuban Revolution
The Cuban Revolution was an armed revolt by Fidel Castro's 26th of July Movement against the regime of Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista between 1953 and 1959. Batista was finally ousted on 1 January 1959, and was replaced by a revolutionary government led by Castro...

, Boitel returned to Cuba and resumed his studies at the University of Havana. In 1959, Boitel ran for president of the University Students' Federation (Federación Estudiantil Universitaria; FEU) at the University of Havana and was backed by the 26th of July Movement
26th of July Movement
The 26th of July Movement was the revolutionary organization planned and led by Fidel Castro that in 1959 overthrew the Fulgencio Batista government in Cuba...

. Even though Fidel Castro
Fidel Castro
Fidel Alejandro Castro Ruz is a Cuban revolutionary and politician, having held the position of Prime Minister of Cuba from 1959 to 1976, and then President from 1976 to 2008. He also served as the First Secretary of the Communist Party of Cuba from the party's foundation in 1961 until 2011...

 headed this movement, Castro and the other revolutionary leaders removed their support for Boitel. Castro personally intervened in the student elections at the University of Havana to remove Boitel from the FEU presidency.

Jail and hunger strike


As a Christian, Boitel became dissatisfied with political events in Cuba and formed a clandestine organization, The Movement to Recuperate the Revolution (MRR). In 1961 Boitel was detained and accused of conspiracy against the state, and was summarily sentenced to ten years in jail.
He was not released after the 10 year sentence. It is claimed that Boitel was tortured and beaten several times and that his mother Claretta was humiliated when she went to visit him in jail. The Inter-American Commission of Human Rights found that the Cuban government had violated Article I of the American Declaration on the Rights and Duties of Man in their treatment of the prisoner. Boitel sought authorization to leave Cuba but his requests were denied.

On April 3, 1972, Boitel declared himself on hunger strike. After 53 days on hunger strike without receiving medical assistance and receiving only liquids, he died of starvation on May 25, 1972. His last days were related by his close friend, poet Armando Valladares
Armando Valladares
Armando Valladares is a former prisoner in Cuba turned United States ambassador to the United Nations.-Political prisoner:Valladares was a Cuban Postal Bank employee . He was arrested when he refused to display a sign on his desk that promoted communism...

. He was buried in an unmarked grave in the Cólon Cemetery
Colon Cemetery, Havana
The Colon Cemetery or more fully in the Spanish language Cementerio de Cristóbal Colón was founded in 1876 in the Vedado neighbourhood of Havana, Cuba on top of Espada Cemetery. Named for Christopher Columbus, the 140 acre cemetery is noted for its many elaborately sculpted memorials...

 in Havana
Havana
Havana is the capital city, province, major port, and leading commercial centre of Cuba. The city proper has a population of 2.1 million inhabitants, and it spans a total of — making it the largest city in the Caribbean region, and the most populous...

.

External links


See also


  • Human rights in Cuba
    Human rights in Cuba
    Human Rights Watch is among international human rights organizations accusing the Cuban government of systematic human rights abuses, including torture, arbitrary imprisonment, unfair trials, and extrajudicial execution....

  • Opposition to Fidel Castro
    Opposition to Fidel Castro
    The Cuban dissident movement is a political movement in Cuba whose aim is "to replace the current regime with a more democratic form of government". According to Human Rights Watch, the Cuban government represses nearly all forms of political dissent....