(Note: The information below is available for dissemination. This campaign, organized and directed by Laida Carro, is ongoing and has received support from the World Medical Association, Christian Solidarity Worldwide, and various other human rights agencies.)
INFORMATION ON FIVE PHYSICIANS AND A DENTIST WHO WERE ARBITRARILY ARRESTED, SUMMARILY TRIED, SENTENCED, AND IMPRISONED DURING THE CUBAN GOVERNMENT CRACKDOWN OF MARCH 18 –APRIL 11, 2003.
Internationally, these six men are all considered prisoners of conscience. They were prosecuted by the Cuban government for peacefully exercising their independent political views; consequently, they must be unconditionally released. Inhumane prison conditions and cruel treatment by penal authorities in Cuba are directly responsible for the severe deterioration of the physical and mental health of these Cuban professionals.
A black Cuban physician (Specialist in Internal Medicine) and follower of Mahatma Ghandi and Martin Luther King, He is a leader in the peaceful civil rights movement that struggles to establish a state based on the rule of law through nonviolent civil disobedience in Cuba. Arrested more than 26 times, Dr. Biscet is President of the unofficial Lawton Foundation for Human Rights in Havana, a pro-life, human rights organization. Due to his human rights activities, Dr. Biscet was expelled from the Cuban National Health System; prohibited from practicing as a physician in his own country; his wife was dismissed from her job as a nurse; and his family was evicted from their home. He served a 3-year sentence in a maximum security prison 450 miles away from his home (1999-2002), accused of “insult to the symbols of the homeland’, ‘public disorder’, and ‘incitement to commit an offense’ for displaying two Cuban flags in an inverted vertical position at a press conference where a public march was announced to denounce human rights violations during the 1999 Latin American Summit in Havana. Dr. Biscet was released on October 31, 2002, was rearrested 36 days later, and was tried April 7, 2003, during a Cuban governmental crackdown that took place in March-April 2003. He was sentenced under article 91 of the Penal Code to 25 years in prison. Since 2003, he has been confined during 15 months to punishment cells for refusing, as a prisoner of conscience, to obey any prison rule applied to common prisoners. On one occasion, he lost 40 pounds when he was placed in an underground dungeon with a dangerous criminal. He is presently loosing most of his teeth due to a serious gum disease.
Family: (Wife) Elsa Morejón Hernandez,(a nurse) and two children (in exile).
Address: Acosta 464 entre 8va y 9na, Lawton, Municipio 10 de Octubre, La Habana, Cuba
Birthdate: July 20, 1961
Sentence: 25 years
Prison: Combinado del Este (Havana)
Accusation: Article 91 of the Penal Code
DR. MARCELO CANO RODRÍGUEZ
A medical doctor, Dr. Cano Rodríguez served as the National Coordinator of the unofficial Cuban Independent Medical Association, an association of medical professionals around the island and a member of the unofficial Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation (CCDHRN). Marcelo Cano was summarily tried on April 6, 2003,and convicted under article 91 of the Penal Code and articles 4.1, 4.2a-b, 6.1, 6.2a-b, 7.1, 7.2, 7.3, 8.1, 8.2, 9.1, 9.2, 10 and 11 of Law 88 to 18 years in prison. The activities, which the prosecution cited against this human rights defender, included visiting prisoners and their families as part of his work with the CCDHRN, and maintaining ties to the international organization, Doctors without Borders. Dr. Marcelo Cano has been severely harassed by penal authorities since his incarceration. This physician has not seen the light of the sun since 2004 and his 6-year-old daughter is traumatized after two and a half years of prison visits. Due to the lack of hygiene, he suffers from parasites and fungus on his feet.
Family: (aunt) Catalina Cano Vergara.
Address: Calle 72 #907. Altos, entre 9na y 11na, Playa, Ciudad de La Habana, Cuba
Birthdate: January 20, 1965
Sentence: 18 years
Prison: Prison of Ariza in Cienfuegos (423 km. east of Havana)
Accusation: Violation of Law No. 88 and Article 91
DR. JOSÉ LUIS GARCÍA PANEQUE
Dr.Paneque, trained as a plastic surgeon, is a member of the unofficial Cuban Independent Medical Association and director of the independent news agency Libertad and of the unofficial Journalists' Society, "Manuel Marquez Sterling." He was also reportedly involved in the Proyecto Varela initiative as well as in directing a private library. Dr. Garcia Paneque was detained on 18 March 2003. Following a search of his house, materials, correspondence and medical equipment were reportedly confiscated. He was charged and summarily tried under Law 88 and Article 91 of the Cuban Penal Code and sentenced to 24 years in prison. Since then, his weight has dropped from 86 to 48 kg. due the development of intestinal mal absorption syndrome, and he is presently in a prison hospital in Havana, 700 km. away from his hometown. According to his wife, Cuban authorities keep her husband in prison even while he suffers an illness that is incompatible with a prison routine and when his life is in danger. Dr. Garcia Paneque’s family is presently being threatened with an imminent mob attack against their home in Las Tunas.
Family: (Wife)Yamilé Llánez Labrada, (a lawyer) Four children ages 6,8,10,15
Address: Calle Emilio González No.63, entre Eliades Ávila y José Licea, Reparto Aguilera, Las Tunas, Cuba
Telephone: + 53-31-42910
Birthdate: July 24, 1965
Sentence: 24 years
Prison: National Prisoners’ Hospital at the Combinado del Este Prison (Havana) -
Accusation: Violation of Law No.88 and Article 91
A medical doctor, he is a member of the unofficial Independent Cuban Medical Association. On June 2001 he and his wife, a dentist, signed a document called 'Manifiesto 2001,' calling, among other measures, for recognition of fundamental freedoms in Cuba. Together with other health professionals, they carried out a one-day hunger strike to call attention to the medical situation of detainees and other issues. On April 4, 2003, he was summarily tried for violating Law 88, and sentenced to 13 years in prison. Though he has never suffered from any emotional or mental problems, Dr. Milan has been confined since February 18, 2005, with mental patients of all kinds in the psychiatric ward of the Prison of Boniato, in the province of Santiago de Cuba where he presently remains. Two or three mental patients sleep in Dr. Milan’s prison cell, and some, due to their aggressiveness, have annoyed and provoked him. Penal authorities follow a pattern, changing his cellmates periodically, occasionally leaving him alone in his cell.
Family: (wife) Dr. Lisandra Laffita Hernández (dentist)
Address: Edificio B27, Apt. 10, Reparto Antonio Maceo, Santiago de Cuba, Cuba
Birthdate: February 21, 1970
Sentence: 13 years
Prison: Psychiatric Ward of the Prison of Boniato (Santiago de Cuba)
Accusation: Violation of Law No. 88
RICARDO ENRIQUE SILVA GUAL
A medical doctor and member of the Movimiento Cristiano Liberación, (Christian Liberation Movement.) On April 7, 2003, Dr. Silva was sentenced to serve ten years in prison under articles 4.1 and 6.1 of Law 88. Dr. Silva carried out a hunger strike from January 13-February 5, 2005, in the maximum-security prison of Boniato to protest the cruel treatment he was being subjected to by prison authorities and by dangerous convicts who were being encouraged by prison guards to harass him. There, he received a savage beating by Sargent Arrastre. He was eventually transferred to the Prison of Aguadores in Santiago de Cuba where he feels he has achieved his demands which are: not wear the common prisoner’s uniform, not salute or acknowledge the military personnel or accept the penal system’s reeducation program which includes compulsory participation in political marches. According to Dr. Silva, he will continue with his demands until he is a free man. He is presently having very serious problems with his eyesight and has just been diagnosed with glaucoma. Dr. Silva is married and has a young child. His father has been hospitalized twice, affected by his son’s incarceration.
Family: (mother) Elina Rosa Gual. Wife and a son, two and a half years old.
Address: Calle Martí, Alta #458, entre Eduardo Chibás y Oscar Lucero, Palma Soriano, Santiago de Cuba, Cuba.
Birthdate: April 19,1973
Sentence: 10 years
Prison: Aguadores Provincial Prison, Santiago de Cuba.
Accusation: Violation of Law No. 88
ALFREDO MANUEL PULIDO LOPEZ
Dr. Pulido practiced as a dentist for 22 years until he was expelled from his profession when he became involved with the independent dissident movement, Movimiento Cristiano Liberación. In 2001, he began working as an independent journalist for the unofficial news agency El Mayor in Camagüey. He is a Master Freemason who belongs to a Grand Lodge. On March 18, 2003 he was arrested and was summarily tried April 4 and sentenced to 14 years of imprisonment under Articles 91 of the Cuban Penal Code and Law 88. He is presently confined in Kilo 7 Prison in Camagüey in a barrack with 100 delinquents, many of them condemned for murder. Dr.Pulido told his wife he “feels like he is in hell”. His state of health is critical since, for months, he has been suffering multiple severe ailments and is unable to read, write, and hardly sleep as a result of severe, chronic and recurrent migraines.
Family: (wife) Rebeca Antonia Rodríguez Souto and a teenage son.
Address: Palomino #445 entre Linea y Primera, Reparto La Mascota, Camagüey, Cuba.
Birthdate: November 14, 1960
Sentence: 14 years
Prison: Kilo 7, Camagüey
Accusation: Violation of Law No.88 and Article 91
LEGAL INSTRUMENTS UTILIZED BY CUBAN AUTHORITIES TO CONVICT THE SIX CUBAN HEALTH PROFESSIONALS (Law No. 88 and Article 91 of the Cuban Penal Code)
Law No 88 (gag law) - The Law for the Protection of National Independence and the Economy of Cuba - Mandates prison sentences of up to twenty years for those found guilty of "supporting, facilitating, or collaborating with the objectives of the Helms-Burton Law [U.S. legislation that imposes sanctions on foreign companies trading with Cuba], the embargo, and the economic war against our people, with the goal of ruining internal order, destabilizing the country, and liquidating the socialist state and Cuba's independence."
Acts against the Independence or the Territorial Integrity of the State. ARTICLE 91.
“The person who, in the interest of a foreign State, commits an act with the intent to cause damage to the independence of the Cuban State or the integrity of its territory, shall be punished with 10 to 20 years in prison or death.”
The COALITION OF CUBAN-AMERICAN WOMEN compiled the information on the five Cuban physicians and a dentist, present prisoners of conscience in Cuba, through recorded testimonies obtained (constantly updated) from their families via telephone from Cuba and translated to English. Contact LAIDA CARRO/ Email: Joseito76@aol.com
Phone: + (305) 662-5947 Fax: + (305) 740-7323.
Address: 4635 Granada Blvd. Coral Gables, Fl. 33146, USA
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS AND REFERENCES:
AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL - AMR 25/017/2003
International report on Cuba (June 3, 2003) called CUBA: "Essential Measures"? Human Rights Crackdown in the Name of Security, found at URL - http://web.amnesty.org/library/index/engAMR250172003?open&of=eng-cub
LAW 88 - CUBA: BACK TO DARKNESS by Andrés Oppenheimer – Article Published Thursday March 18, 1999 / The Miami Herald / http://www.fiu.edu/~fcf/rtrndrknessoppenheimer.html
ARTICLE 91 (Cuban Penal Code) International Pen Writers in Prison Committee- Cuba Campaign http://www.pen.org/freedom/cubafox.htm
THE WORLD MEDICAL ASSOCIATION PRESS RELEASE – 23 March 2004. World Medical Association pleads for doctors and dentists imprisoned in Cuba. http://www.wma.net/e/press/2004_4.htm
“DIRECTORIO” ( Human Rights organization -Cuban Democratic Directorate)
Email: Info@directorio.org Phone: (305) 279-4416.
“PLANTADOS” ( Human Rights organization consisting of exCuban political prisoners)
151 S.W. 57 Avenue, Miami, Florida 33144. Email: Plantados@bellsouth.net . Phone: 305-269-1812
Internet websites with documented information about Cuban Political Prisoners: http://www.payolibre.com/
Dr. Biscet’s website: http://www.biscet.org