International News

'Down With Castro' Fliers Earn Cuban Activists Five-Year Prison Terms

Life in La Habana has been inching toward change lately. These days, it's perfectly legal to serve up to 50 people in your restaurant, to own your own barber shop and to spend all afternoon loading clunky dial-up porn on your home computer.

Still most definitely illegal, though: Tossing fliers reading "Down With the Castro Dictatorship!" and "Freedom for Political Prisoners!" around Revolution Square. Three dissidents were slammed with five year prison terms today for doing just that.

The four men -- Luis Enrique Labrador, 33, 40-year-old David Piloto, and Walfrido Rodriguez, 42 -- threw their anti-government leaflets around Havana back in January. (A fourth 23-year-old suspect who helped them earned three years in jail).

All four belong to an opposition group called The Force of Truth, reports Fox News. The men said they did nothing more than speak their mind, but Castro's government found them guilty of "defiance" and "public disorder."

"Look, they are four common criminals, counterrevolutionaries, they attacked a policeman, and these mercenaries have to show respect," government supporter Juan Miguel Garriga told Reuters.

The convictions don't exactly help Castro's attempts to appease critics, including the Catholic Church, by releasing 114 political prisoners a few months back.

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Tim Elfrink is a former investigative reporter and managing editor for Miami New Times. He has won the George Polk Award and was a finalist for the Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting.
Contact: Tim Elfrink