HAVANA TIMES – Cuban scientist sentenced to one year in prison for ‘disrespecting” government authority, was the title of an article recently published in the Miami Herald. And that is Ariel Ruiz Urquiola, a universal researcher. His work and light transcend the borders of this island.
A great man, with a high level of thought and a firm opinion, he appeared one afternoon at my house to offer his support after the injustice committed against me, which today prevents me from working as an actress in Cuba, for reasons similar to those he has faced and which led to his current prison sentence.
During the government of Fidel Castro, Ruiz refused to sign a letter approved by many of his colleagues, as well as important intellectuals and Cuban artists, in support of the execution of three young men who hijacked a boat that traveled from Regla to Havana in an attempt to escape the island.
He expressed his disagreement in being an accomplice to such a crime. For that reason he was expelled from his teaching position at the University of Havana in 2003.
At that time, writers like Jose Saramago, Eduardo Galeano. Artists like Ana Belén, Víctor Manuel, who sympathized with the revolution, expressed their disagreement with the regime over the summary execution.
Years later, Ruiz managed to work again as a scientist, apparently his punishment was over. During a congress in California, he presented an investigation on the indiscriminate hunting of turtles in Pinar del Río and in the town of Nuevitas in the province of Camagüey. Then he was again expelled.
His last role as a scientist happened after having won a scholarship to work together with the Humboldt Institute in Germany.
However, Ruiz also carried out a hunger strike because of the lack of medicine to cure his sister’s cancer. After his protest, a series of negligence and abandonment of patients cases in similar conditions at the Oncological Hospital located in Havana came to light.
After his dismissals he moved to Pinar del Rio where he has worked on a farm that he also shares with his mother and sister.
Now, he has been sentenced to one year in political prison, masked under a “contempt”, charge after the actions perpetrated against his farm by State Security agents. Ruiz Urquiola lives as he thinks and follows the revolutionary Marti traditions, as an honest man who defends the right to think and speak without hypocrisy.
More than one hundred years after our national hero died in combat, in the land where a revolution based on his ideas took place, one cannot be free or honest.