|José Ramón Gabriel Castillo with Omar Pernet Hernandez and Pedro Pablo Álvarez|
Attending the Geneva Summit for Human Rights, Tolerance, and Democracy in 2009 I met José Gabriel there and after listening to Soe Aung, from the National Council of the Union of Burma speak about the situation in his country. José Gabriel turned to me and explained how reading a book by Aung San Suu Kyi in Cuba had led him to decide to become a political dissident and join the ranks of the Cuban opposition to the dictatorship. Years later he would be part of a group of former political prisoners demanding her release.
Later that same year we would meet Vaclav Havel in Prague, present him with a list of political prisoners, and obtain his support in a campaign to release them.
José Ramón Gabriel Castillo addressed the first two Geneva Summits and in 2010 spoke of the then recent and untimely death of Orlando Zapata Tamayo on February 23, 2010. He also spoke of the tortures he had been subjected two while imprisoned in Cuba.
José Ramón, or Pepin to his friends, was from Santiago de Cuba and worked in the Universidad de Oriente (University of Oriente) where he was expelled in 1993 for founding the first human rights organization in the Eastern region of Cuba, called the Instituto Independiente Cuba y Democracia.
Requiescat in pace Jose Gabriel Ramon Castillo.