Antonio Villarreal Acosta: "Prison Ended My Life"

Monday, December 30, 2013
From Uncommon Sense:

Between the "Black Spring" of 2003, when the Castro dictatorship imprisoned political activist Antonio Augusto Villarreal Acosta, and 2010, when it forced him into overseas exile, the Castro dictatorship attempted to torture Villarreal to death.

On Saturday, in a Miami apartment, the regime finally succeeded.

Haunted by the memories of torture and other abuses he suffered in the Castro gulag, including a year alone in a darkened punishment cell, Villarreal apparently took his own life with an overdose of drugs. He was 63.

Miami police found his body in his apartment in Little Havana. His son Tony told Diario de las Americas that Villarreal was lying on his bed, with a Cuban flag, images of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and Our Lady of Charity of El Cobre and his prison uniform.

"The history of my father was like a horror movie," Tony Villarreal told Cafe Fuerte.  "He felt alone, abandoned by all. He was under psychiatric treatment, but I never thought he was going to take such a radical decision."

Villarreal, an activist with the Christian Liberation Movement headed by the late Oswaldo Paya, was arrested during the "Black Spring" crackdown and sentenced to 15 years in prison.

He was first sent to the Boniato prison in Santiago de Cuba, where he spent a year in a punishment cell, and then to the La Pendiente prison in Santa Clara.

In July 2010, suffering from kidney ailments, hypertension and psychiatric disorders, he was one of the first of the Group of 75 prisoners released from jail under a deal arranged by Cuba, Spain and the Catholic Church, and forced into exile in Spain.

A year later, he moved with his wife and daughter to Miami, where life was no easier. Unable to work, he was on disability, and about a year ago he separated from his wife.

"Prison ended my life," Villarreal said in a 2011 interview.