By Ignacio Estrada
Havana, Cuba – In recent days, correspondents from Cuban television and newspaper correspondents from accredited foreign media in the capital undertook an unusual journey through different prisons.
The reporting reflects only what the Cuban government wants to show the world in the face of their constant refusal to let the United Nations Special Rapporteur for Human Rights into the country, along with international officials of other agencies such as the Red Cross.
The deterioration of the Cuban prison system and the constant violations of inmate rights is reported by alternative media that exists on the island, denunciations that are narrated via telephone in often broken voices, people sobbing to themselves and another large number of their families and a smaller number through third parties.
Cuba is the Latin American nation with more prisons and a prison population mostly young, for crimes that include prison sentences just for eating beef.
If the accredited media want to talk about the island prison system they would have to take as a reference the countless testimonies of the many people graduate from prison and now despite being released can not get their jobs back. Or better still to describe each of the punishment cells in which many have tried to to end their lives out of despair and others have lost their lives in some cases in unknown situations.
Those who have been in prison fall into things like this, they become accomplices of those who often repeat intimidating phrases like this: The Cockroach when he’s in the hen’s beak doesn’t make demands! A speech about explaining to the accused that they are trapped by the prison system.
A question to ask the National Bureau of Prisons is what is the annual number of self-attacks in prisons, a number that will never be revealed because it would show the mental imbalance and fears in a figure that is constantly growing. When we touch this issue we are not referring to something unknown, we are talking about a reality and that is the reason that hundreds of prisoners are admitted to hospitals each year and in most cases require surgery.
The self-attacks are described derisively by the jailers themselves unscrupulously labeling those who opt for this kind of protest of the system as “Tragics,” cutting their veins, swallowing barbed wires, sticking pins in their eyes, burning and mutilating parts of their bodies, injecting feces and urine into their legs and even voluntarily injecting themselves with HIV/AIDS; these are all some of the ways in which the Cuban prison population constantly attacks their own lives.
I respect each colleague of both the domestic and foreign press but there are things that piss me off and make me lose my faith at times in the work they do. Is it perhaps that Raul Castro and even the brand new Cuban vice president, are not calling on the press to be objective and fill the role of true communicators or the Cuban reality? Lying is the same thing they did in ’fifty-nine. Everything continues to be a false government disguised by a puppet press.
I promise in a second paper to describe the Cuban jails where prisoners with HIV/AIDS serve their sentences. Prisons that now total six which together have an inmate population that excludes 500 inmates.
22 April 2013