A Conversation with Jorge Luis Garcia Pérez “Antúnez” of Cuba
Jorge Luis Garcia Pérez, also known as “Antúnez,” is a dissident and democracy activist from the city of Placetas, in the Santa Clara province of Cuba. Antúnez served a prison term of more than 17 years for yelling anti-Castro slogans into a microphone at a musical event in his hometown in 1990. While in prison, he refused to participate in communist “re-education” and founded a political prisoner group in honor of Pedro Luis Boitel, a Cuban dissident who died following a hunger strike in 1972.
Occasionally referred to as the “Cuban Nelson Mandela,” Antúnez gained notoriety for his nonviolent resistance to the Castro regime, both as a citizen and a prisoner of the state. In 2005, with the help of the Konrad Adenaur Foundation and the Centro para la Apertura y el Desarrollo de América Latina, Antúnez published a book from prison titled Boitel Lives, in which he gives his testimony as a political prisoner and criticizes the inhuman conditions of Cuban prisons.
He was released from prison in 2007 and continues to be a leading dissident voice on the island, where he has engaged in several hunger strikes in protest of regime treatment of pro-democracy activists. In 2009, he received the National Endowment for Democracy’s annual Democracy Award. In 2010, Antúnez established the Orlando Zapata Tamayo National Front for Civic Resistance and Civil Disobedience in honor of the death of pro-democracy activist Orlando Zapata Tamayo.
This interview that was late last year, during the activist’s travels outside Cuba.