14ymedio, Havana, 6 November 2016 – On Sunday morning, the police arrested for the third time this week the researcher and marine biologist Ariel Urquiola, who has been holding a peaceful protest in front the National Oncology and Radiology Institute (INOR) since Thursday. He is demanding medical treatment for his sister, Omara Isabel Ruiz Urquiola, who is suffering from cancer.
According to what this newspaper was able to confirm, the specialist remained under arrest until five in the afternoon.
Shortly before his arrest he was received at the Oncological Hospital by its director, Dr. Luis Alfonso Curbelo, who notified him that the drug for his sister had arrived and would be administered this coming Tuesday.
Urquiola was dissatisfied and incredulous with this response and believes that, given that all this time the patient has been injecting herself, the only thing they had to do was to give her the drug this Sunday or Monday, and so he decided to continue his protest until the matter is truly resolved.
As reported to this newspaper by Oscar Casanella, at three in the afternoon on Sunday, after an interrogation at the police station located in Zapata and C, Urquiola was taken to the emergency room at Fajardo Hospital where he was given a physical examination to determine that he had no injuries.
In communication with 14ymedio, Urquiola’s sister explained that so far he has not been allowed to see his family for the duration of the arrest. “The officer in charge of this case is named Raul with a badge number 03734. I have told them I have nothing to talk to them about until they permit me to see him,” she said, shortly before he was released.
Urquiola’s sister suffers from invasive ductal carcinoma which is treated with two monoclonal antibodies every 21 days. For the completion of this immunotherapy she has lacked Trastuzumab (Herceptin).
The drug, which has been supplied for more than 20 years by the Ministry of Public Health (MINSAP), is manufactured by Roche pharmaceuticals. According to the family of the patient the absence of this drug is attributable to the Ministry of Public Health and the representation of the Swiss firm in Cuba.
Since Thursday, Ariel Urquiola has not taken food or drink and has been accompanied days by several civil society activists in solidarity with his demands. Among them are Gorki Águila, Eliecer Avila, Rudy Cabrera, Oscar Casanella, Claudio Fuentes, Antonio González Rodiles, Ailer González, Boris Gonzalez and Yanelis Nunez.
Biologist Ariel Urquiola, D.Sc., was expelled from the University of Havana after being deprived by the administration of his scientific project, arguing that he was not “trustworthy” because of his political leanings.
In the afternoon, the biologist was released, but vowed to continue his hunger strike until the reasons why he initiated it are resolved. However he agreed to withdraw from the site he had occupied in front of the hospital.