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Freedom by the Pound

On July 28th, 2010, Ariel Sigler Amaya arrived in Miami weighing a mere 116 pounds. Looking like a holocaust victim, Ariel was a paraplegic and on the brink of death after spending 7 years in a Castro prison for opposing the dictatorial regime. Along with his two brothers Miguel and Guido, Ariel was part of 75 peaceful democracy activists, independent journalists and librarians arrested by the Castro dictatorship during the Black Spring of 2003 and sentenced to long prison terms.

Along with the other prisoners of conscience languishing behind bars in Castro's prisons, Ariel -- an athlete and a heavyweight boxer weighing 220 pounds -- suffered unspeakable acts of humiliation and torture both physically and mentally. During his last two years incarcerated, Ariel's body began to succumb to the daily torture of prison, and as he became sicker and sicker, his weight began to drop and he eventually became a paraplegic. However, though the regime had managed to break Ariel's body, they were never able to break his spirit.

Freedom has an amazing therapeutic effect on a man, and with Ariel's warrior spirit still intact it was only a matter of time before his body would begin to recover. For more than three months Ariel has been training harder than he ever trained before as a champion boxer, and what seemed unthinkable a short 3 months ago, Ariel's spirit, determination, and a heavy dose of freedom has made the impossible, possible. Ariel's health and body has progressed so much that even his doctors have been left amazed.

The following is a short film George and I shot of Ariel a couple of weeks ago during one of his workouts at his home. We had the good fortune that his doctor, Dr. Orlando Rodriguez, was visiting him at the time and we were able to film his thoughts on Ariel's progress.

In this film you will be able to see just how far Ariel has come in such a short period of time, and it is a testament not only to his courage and will, but also to the wonders of freedom. Ariel has gained 30 pounds since arriving in freedom, and his doctor tells us he may be standing and taking a few steps before the year is over. Nothing strikes more fear into the Castro dictatorship than witnessing the power of freedom, and one can say that Ariel Sigler Amaya's  miraculous recovery can be measured as freedom by the pound.

Freedom by the Pound from Babalu Bloggers on Vimeo.

The Spanish version of the video and the story behind it is available below the fold.

Libertad por Libra

En el 28 de julio, 2010, Ariel Sigler Amaya llego a Miami pesando solamente 116 libras. Luciendo como una victima del holocausto, Ariel esta parapléjico y al borde de la muerte después de 7 años en una prisión castrista por oponerse al régimen dictatorial. Con sus dos hermanos Miguel y Guido, Ariel fue parte de los 75 activistas pacíficos, y periodistas y bibliotecarios independientes arrestado por la dictadura castrista durante la Primavera Negra del 2003 y condenados a largas sentencias de prisión.

Junto con otros prisioneros de consciencia languideciendo detrás de las rejas de las prisiones de los Castros, Ariel — un atleta y boxeador que pesaba 220 libras — sufrió indescriptible actos de humillación y tortura física igual que psicológica. Durante sus últimos dos años encarcelado el cuerpo de Ariel empezó a sucumbir a las torturas diarias de la prisión, y mientras que su salud seguía empeorándose, su peso empezó a desminuirse y eventualmente se quedo parapléjico.

La libertad tiene un efecto terapéutico increíble sobre un hombre, y con el espíritu guerrero de Ariel todavía intacto era solamente una cuestión de tiempo antes que su cuerpo empezara a recuperar. Por mas de tres meses Ariel ha estado entrenando mas intensamente que cuando era campeón de boxeo, y lo que lucia imposible hace 3 cortos meses atrás, el espíritu de Ariel, su determinación, y una dosis generosa de libertad ha hecho lo imposible, posible. La salud y el cuerpo de Ariel ha progresado tanto que hasta sus doctores se han quedado asombrados.

La siguiente película corta hecha por George y yo hace un par de semanas fue filmada durante unos de las sesiones de ejercicios de Ariel en su casa. Tuvimos la suerte que su doctor, Dr. Orlando Rodríguez, estaba visitándolo ese día y pudimos filmar sus opiniones sobre el progreso de Ariel.

En esta película podrán ver cuanto Ariel ha progresado en tan poco tiempo, y es un testamento no solamente a su coraje y voluntad, pero también a las maravillas de la libertad. Ariel ha aumentado 30 libras desde que llego a la libertad, y su doctor nos dice que quizás este parándose y tomando unos pasos antes el fin de año. Nada le infunde el miedo a la dictadura castrista como ver el poder de la libertad, y uno puede decir que la recuperación milagrosa de Ariel se pudiera medir en base de libertad por libra.

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