Havana - Oscar Manuel Espinosa Chepe, a dissident Cuban economist whose work was censored by the government, died in Spain on Monday aged 72, after battling chronic liver disease and cancer, his wife announced on Facebook.
Espinosa, a soft-spoken man known to friends and colleagues as Chepe, was one of 75 dissidents sentenced to long prison terms in an April 2003 crackdown on the opposition. He was named a prisoner of conscience by Amnesty International.
Espinosa quickly deteriorated in prison and he was paroled for health reasons in November 2004. He was repeatedly hospitalised in the past few years as his condition worsened. In March he went to Spain for treatment after the Spanish government interceded on his behalf. He suffered from liver disease for more than 20 years and, more recently, cancer.
He was a prolific writer of articles criticising Cuban economic policy before and after his arrest. Espinosa wrote two books and was considered an important source of information by academics and Cuba experts abroad, although his work was censored in Cuba.
The US State Department expressed “great sorrow” over news of his death.
“He was an important economist in the government and he raised the red flag that something had to be done. He paid a big price for that. His health really took a beating in jail,” said Carlos Saladrigas, the head of The Cuba Study Group, an organisation of Cuban-American businessmen working for reconciliation with their homeland.
Espinosa is survived by his wife, independent journalist Miriam Leiva. – Reuters