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Posted May 05, 2003 by publisher in Castro's Cuba

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Miriam Leiva

HAVANA, may (http://www.cubanet.org) - Oscar Espinosa Chepe is incarcerated
more than 900 kms. from Havana, where he lives, regardless of his
worsening health. In the Provincial Penitentiary of Guantánamo the water is contaminated.

A healthy person can suffer hepatitis, diarrhea and other
diseases just by drinking it. Mosquitos bite constantly, and flies are
countless. Small portions of rice and split peas poorly cooked are every
day meals. In the same quarters with Chepe coexist 26 common inmates.
He is isolated from other political prisoners. The first days there he
had to sleep on the floor.

He already has diarrhea, besides high blood pressure, polipes in his
intestines, gastritis, torax hernia, and VERY SERIOUS LIVER DEFICIENCY
due to cirrosis, which was controlled at the moment of his detention on
March 19th.

The liver crisis has become evident after the lost of more than 25
pounds, in his yellowish color and inflamed legs. These symptoms are
directly linked to the harsh conditions he faced at the Headquarters of the
political police, Villa Marista, being isolated in a two by three meters
cell, with a small hole providing air and light, a tiny toilet with
dirty running water sometimes; shared with three common criminals. The
intense interrogation, day and night, was very stressing. Malnourishment
was commonplace.

He arrived in Guantánamo on April 24th., after a very long bus trip,
transferred from the Military Hospital of Havana, where he had been for
four days, because of the insistence of Dr. Ileana Prieto Espinosa, his
niece, who had visited him in prison, and urged about his liver crisis.
Nevertheless, at the Hospital NO CHECKUP was performed. According to
the military physician there, would be no time to do so, since he was
going to the penitentiary very soon.

Before being taken so far away, I, his wife, was not allowed to provide
him with essential personal personal items. Thus, on April 28th., I
took him a bucket, sheets, power milk and other products.

At Guantànamo Penitentiary I and Dr. Prieto asked the warden, Major
Guillermo, to speak with the Doctor of Section 3-A, where Chepe is, to
hand over a summary of his medical record, explain the background and
diagnosis of his critical current stage. In the morning of April 29th., a
meeting was held with Dr. Olaisi. Only some of the medications we took
were accepted (in this country there is a shortage of medicaments). We
also spoke with the “Reeducation Officer” Paulino, who is in charge of
that Section.

In Cuba, prisoner and relatives are punished. Where transportation
hardly exists, getting to Guantànamo is an Odyssey. Even in the very city,
to commute you must take a horse wagon or a “bycitaxi”. We were able to
see him only half an hour. Although it is said that he can make calls,
the phone there is out of order. Then, the incertitude about his health
becomes a torture.

Next May 7th. we will go back to Guantánamo for the assigned visit to
Section 3-A. But the next one will probably be on July 14th., more than
two months later. We will drain our brains figuring out how he keeps on

Exposing a sick man to such dreadful conditions makes any sane person
wonder about the intentions and the outcome.


1 - Oscar Espinosa Chepe, 62 years old, independent economist and
journalist, was sentenced to 20 years in prison on April 6th., after a
Summary Trial. He had been detained on March 19th., in the midst of a
crackdown on 75 peaceful human rights activists, independent journalists and
opponents. He does not belong to any party, organization or group
whatsoever. He has supported the Varela Project and the coalition of
organizations Todos Unidos (All United).

2 - Dr. Ileana Prieto Espinosa is not an opponent or dissident. She is
a highly qualified specialist, who works a the Intensive Care Unit of
Hospital Fajardo in Havana, and has treated Chepe during his stays

3 - The last names of the officers and Doctor are not cited because
they did not tell us. That is a common practice among the members of the
ministry of Interior in Cuba.

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