It just so happens that the Castro regime keeps some of its political dissidents in a prison on the other side of the wire from the US base. In a special article on the tactics used against Cuba's pro-democracy campaigners, Le Monde interviews one recently released detainee, 43 year-old journalist Jorge Olivera. He had spent the first three months in a cell with 17 other inmates, a hole in the ground serving as a toilet.

"His eyes appear to still hurt in daylight. When he walks along [Havana's] 5th Avenue the wide open spaces seem to give him vertigo... 'After twenty months and nineteen days in a tiny cell, you feel a kind of dizziness when you come out. I have the sense that I'm fast losing the memory of a period which lasted so long while I was living it: it's difficult to get back into the rhythm of life outside when you've been living in slow-motion. I also have trouble with my eye-sight as a result of staring at a wall in a dark cell measuring 1.50 m by three. The simple task of reading a newspaper becomes a problem in conditions like that.'"

UPDATE: Oswaldo Paya's Wall Street Journal op-ed (subscriber-only) contains an example of bleak local humour:

"A bitter joke circulates in Havana: A Cuban child is asked, 'What do you want to be when you grow up, a doctor, pilot, lawyer, fireman?' The child responds, 'I want to be a foreigner.'

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