By Jeremy Gerard | Bloomberg
A booking photo of Normando Hernandez Gonzalez
“Mi hijo esta muy mal. Muy mal.’’ Even on the speakerphone from Miami, Blanca Gonzalez’s voice is unmistakably choked with emotion. ``My son is doing badly. Very badly,’’ she says. ``He said that from there he will leave dead.’‘
``There’’ is Kilo 7, a maximum-security Cuban prison in Camaguey, one of several in which journalist Normando Hernandez Gonzalez, now 37, has been held since April 2003. He is serving a 25-year sentence for crimes against the state that include writing articles critical of the Cuba’s health, education and judicial agencies. Suffering from tuberculosis and a chronic parasitic infection, both contracted in prison, Hernandez Gonzalez is perilously underweight at just over 100 pounds, according to his mother, who adds that his illnesses are poorly treated.
In April, at her urging, Costa Rican legislators granted Hernandez Gonzalez a visa that could have gotten him out of prison and the country. But Cuban officials last week refused to honor the visa.
So he continues to deteriorate, limited to one visit every two months from his wife, Yarai Reyes, and Daniela, the daughter from whom he has been separated since her first birthday celebration, on the day before his arrest.
His wife’s visits are the only time he is allowed fresh food. There are also occasional examinations by a gastroenterologist, who confirms his condition but cannot or will not provide regular, proper medication and diet.
``The eyes of a doctor won’t cure me,’’ the writer told his wife when she visited last week, according to his mother.
The Havana Journal is committed to post stories like these to give as much “ink” as possible. In this day and age of free and open communication, there is no reason for people to rot in jail for criticizing their government. To acting President Raul Castro, you call for a national dialog and discussion about the state of affairs in Cuba, do the right thing are start releasing political prisoners. Or, are you afraid that your people will rise up against you.
You can free political prisoners and be seen as a liberator and new era thinker or you can continue to oppress your own people who love their country. The days of oppression in Cuba will end. Will you orchestrate the change or fight to the death to prevent them?
It’s your move acting President Raul Castro.