To follow up on Nick Gillespie's point about cual es mas gulag, one of the people I interviewed in Cuba in 1998 was a guy named Gustavo Dominguez Gutierrez, who had just days before been released after serving five years, five months and 20 days for "enemy propaganda" and disrespecting the president (Bill Maher would have a helluva time maintaining his lifestyle in Cuba). Before that term, Gutierrez had previously been sentenced to three years for refusing to report to compulsory military service. Here's part of our interview, conducted through an interpreter, about the conditions inside Castro's jails:
In Camaguey we formed a political prisoners group, and our main task was to denounce constantly the repression inside the prisons—The lack of medical and food attention, which provoked great illness. There were many sick prisoners, and they weren't given the food they were supposed to. We also denounced that there were prisoners who had contagious diseases. Also the violation of the Constitution in respect to religious rights. Also the beatings. And this is why they moved me from one prison to another.
And sometimes I was even tortured. For example they hit me. Another way to torture me is they would make me naked in the cell, with handcuffs and ankle cuffs, for 21 consecutive days. For example, I was in punishment cells naked, then officers would ask me to stand up to respect them, and I wouldn't, and that's why sometimes they punished me. Sometimes they would hang me by my wrists, so that I was on my toes.
As infuriating as that is, the truly heartbreaking bit, a variation of which you hear often in Cuba, was this:
It's very difficult for me because I love my country very much. I'm confident that changes have to come. I can't believe that Castro's heart can all be black. I hope that even though it's going to be a slow process that we could obtain the rights to which we are entitled. I will try to survive.