Cuba’s New Minister of the Interior Inaugurates His Tenure With a Repressive Wave Across the Country / 14ymedio, Mario Penton

Vice Admiral Julio César Gandarilla, Cuba’s new Minister of the Interior, has unleashed a fierce crackdown across the country (ACN/ Marcelino Vázquez)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Mario Penton, Havana/Miami, 11 January 2017 — While in the United States Rex Tillerson, Donald Trump’s nominee for Secretary of State, made it clear that human rights will be an important part of Washington’s policy toward Cuba, the island’s police forces carried out repressive actions in different parts of the country.

“The increase in repression is due to several causes, among them a push that the government is making in the last days of Barack Obama’s administration to make it clear to Trump that they do not care about the policy change he has announced towards Cuba,” said José Daniel Ferrer, leader of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (Unpacu) speaking from Santiago de Cuba. continue reading

Ferrer denounced the arrest of Jesús Romero and Alexis Rodríguez, activists of his organization who were accused of “posting an opposition sign in the center of the city.”

Among Unpacu members recently detained are also its coordinator, Ovidio Martín Castellanos, and the singer Yuniel Aguilera.

“After the death of his brother, Raul Castro needs to increase terror levels to maintain power,” says Ferrer, who says the government is willing to do anything to eliminate any hint of dissent.

“The increase in repression is due to the push the government is making in the last days of Barack Obama’s administration to make clear to Trump that they do not care about the policy change he has announced towards Cuba”

“They know people are tired of the same thing. When in April we mobilized more than 1,000 people the political police told us that we would never do something like that again,” he adds.

At the other end of the island, the editor of the magazine Convivencia (Coexistence), Karina Galvez, was the victim of search of her home, which ended up being sealed. Galvez herself, age 48 and an economist by profession, is under arrest for the alleged crime of tax evasion.

The director of the Center for Coexistence Studies, Dagoberto Valdés Hernández, called the escalation against the civic project he leads – including the suspension of a planned meeting and multiple arrests – acts of “harassment” by State Security.

Also arrested this day was regime opponent Óscar Elías Biscet, founder of the Emilia Project, which seeks the change of government in the island by means of a popular uprising. After a few hours, Dr. Biscet, who has spent long years in jail, was released.

Activists Eduardo Quintana Suarez, Jose Omar Lorenzo Pimienta and Yoan Alvares, who belong to the same organization, were also arrested, as reported by El Nuevo Herald.

Activist Martha Beatriz Roque was arrested when she attempted to attend the scattering of the ashes of the recently deceased opponent Felix Antonio Bonne Carcassés. She explained to 14ymedio that her detention lasted until two on Wednesday afternoon.

Opponent René Gómez Manzano told this newspaper that they “appealed” to his sanity so that he would not attend the ceremony where the ashes would be scattered, although he finally succeeded in doing so.

This repressive wave unfolds a few hours after the replacement of the recently deceased Interior Minister, Carlos Fernández Gondín, by Vice Admiral Julio César Gandarilla

According to a press release from Democratic Directorate in the city of Holguín, human rights activist Maydolis Leiva Portelles, together with her three children, under arrest since November 27, 2016, were brought to trial.

The entire family, according to the press release, including two minors, was the subject of an act of repudiation that included “violent raiding of the home, beatings, and robbery of personal property.”

This repressive wave has been unfolding within a few hours of the replacement of the recently deceased Interior Minister, Carlos Fernández Gondín, by Vice Admiral Julio César Gandarilla. Among other prerogatives, the person who controls the portfolio of the Interior Ministry also exercises command over State Security and the National Revolutionary Police.

“With the [previous minister] repression was quite extensive, although it must be said that in Cuba a minister cannot do anything without Raul Castro authorizing it. The policy carried out by Gondín continues with Gandarilla. We will have more repression as the discontent increases,” says José Daniel Ferrer.

Oscar Biscet Fights For “The Disintegration of the Dictatorship of the Castros” / 14ymedio, Mario Penton

Dr. Oscar Biscet Cuba after his press conference (14ymedio)
Dr. Oscar Biscet Cuba after his press conference (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Mario Penton, Miami, 4 June 2016 — On his first trip to the United States, former political prisoner Oscar Elias Biscet has shown once again that he doesn’t mince words: he has criticized President Barack Obama’s visit to Cuba, he has spoken in favor of repealing the Cuban Adjustment Act, and he has raised the possibility of a military coup on the island.

A doctor by profession, Biscet is backed by the Lawton Foundation, the National Democratic Party and the New Union for a Free Cuba Foundation. He presented the Emilia Project at a press conference this Saturday; the project is named in honor of Emilia Teurbe Toulon, who in the mid 19th-century first sewed the first Cuban flag. According to Biscet his initiative is a “project of freedom” that seeks “the disintegration of the dictatorship of the Castros.” continue reading

Biscet was sentenced to 25 years in prison for presenting research that denounced the abortion practices of the Cuban health system, but was released in 2011 and decided to stay on the island. Recently, the Cuban government allowed him to travel abroad “only once,” and the regime opponent is in the midst of a tour that has taken him to Spain and the United States. He has expressed fears for his life on his return to Cuba.

“The Emilia project declares that the Communist Constitution and the organs of state power are unconstitutional,” said the Biscet, arguing that the 1940 Constitution had been violated by Fidel Castro in 1959 with the arbitrary application of capital punishment. “In the first month they shot 900 people, 400 of whom were people who had nothing to do with the previous regime, simply because they dared to dissent,” he said.

The Emilia project has been signed by more than 3,000 Cubans with their names and identity card numbers. In it he demands that “the legal system of our country has as its base the democratic principles that prevail in other nations of the civilized world.”

Biscet argues that his movement is based on the 1940 Constitution which, since its amendment in 1976, has been an “eyesore” imposed by the Cuban government against the will of its own people.

Dr. Oscar Biscet from Cuba presented The Emilia Project in Miami
Dr. Oscar Biscet from Cuba presented The Emilia Project in Miami

With regards to relations between the US and Cuba, Biscet believes that the steps taken by the current administration, including President Barack Obama’s visit to the island, “complicate the fight against the dictatorship.”

“It is a mistake to support a dictatorship that is falling. Free governments should demand freedom for Cuba,” said Biscet. “Emilia activists want to strengthen the people in their idea of achieving freedom, strengthening non-governmental organizations, seeking a multitude willing to end the dictatorship and execute a strategic plan to end this.”

According to the leader of the Emilia Project, there are several possible scenarios: that a group of “worthy” soldiers would put an end the regime (he would support this option), or that the son of Raul Castro, Alejandro Castro Espin, succeeds his father, or that there is a evolution towards a “softer dictatorship” in the style of the former Yugoslavia of Milosevic.

“Our purpose is to make a change from the base to the superstructure, a national insurrection,” said Biscet, who pointed out however the peaceful nature of his movement said. “There are many people who have hatred but we want justice to prevail.”

According to Biscet, the Cuban government has always lived on foreign aid, first from the Soviets and now Venezuela. “The Venezuelan people are starving like the Cuban people, not only materially starving but hungering for freedom,” he added. “Socialism has caused chaos and failure wherever it has been implemented, we knew that Venezuela would end like this.”

On the current immigration crisis the former political prisoner believes that “it is a human right to emigrate,” but regrets that the Cuban Adjustment Act allows people to continue leaving the island and then return in a year and a day “to speculate.” He said, “I agree with what Marco Rubio and Congressman Curbelo are doing; asylum must be for those who deserve it, the rest should stay in Cuba to fight.”

For Biscet “you can not enjoy a foreign freedom, with the resources of another country.”

Oscar Elias Biscet Says That Cuba Can No Longer “Bring Down” The Opposition / EFE (14ymedio)

Cuban dissident Oscar Elias Biscet. (EFE)
Cuban dissident Oscar Elias Biscet. (EFE)

14ymedio biggerEFE (via 14ymedio), Miami, 26 May 2106 — Cuban dissident Oscar Elias Biscet said Wednesday, on arriving at the Miami airport from Spain, that the opposition on the island is “well defined” and that the regime “can no longer bring it down.”

Biscet, who was happy to be in “land of freedom” for Cubans, told reporters that he would explain to the Cuban exile community in South Florida his civic political project to end the dictatorship and promote democracy, through a method of non-violent struggle. continue reading

The medical doctor said that the opposition is “very united” and that part of the opposition is his initiative, the Emilia Project, which has gathered the support of more than 3,000 signatures.

He noted that the signers are “brave people, who gave their names, who gave their addresses, their identity card data, saying they do not want more communism.”

Biscet, 54, was optimistic that this group would become “a crowd that would end the dictatorship in Cuba.”

He said his initiative seeks to “make change by shifting the superstructure” and he calls this “the revolution on non-violent human rights.”

The dissident was arrested in late 2002 and sentenced to 25 years in prison for being part of the so-called Black Spring, where a group of dissidents known as the Group of 75, were accused of conspiring with the United States.

Biscet was released from prison in March 2011 during the process of the release of political prisoners carried out by Raul Castro’s government after mediation by the Vatican.

The dissident, who visited Madrid to give a lecture and see friends, admitted this week in Spain that he is afraid of reprisals in Cuba when he returns.

Seven of Eleven Former Black Spring Prisoners Allowed to Travel for “Good Behavior” / 14ymedio

Martha Beatriz Roque leaving her appointment at the Immigration and Nationality office at Factor and Final Streets in Nuevo Vedado in Havana.(14ymedio)
Martha Beatriz Roque leaving her appointment at the Immigration and Nationality office at Factor and Final Streets in Nuevo Vedado in Havana.(14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 22 February 2016 — Former prisoners of the Black Spring Martha Beatriz Roque and Arnaldo Lauzurique received from the authorities “a unique opportunity to travel,” Roque informed 14ymedio this Monday, adding that today she will begin the paperwork to apply for a new passport.

On leaving the Immigration and Nationality Office, located at Factor and Final Streets in Havana’s Nuevo Vedado neighborhood, Roque explained that Major Orestes Rodriguez Bello assured her that she will be able to return to the country without problems. He added that this was an exceptional measure because the beneficiaries “have displayed good behavior.” However, their status as beneficiaries of “parole” is maintained, and this is not a change in their criminal status. continue reading

Seven of the eleven former prisoners of the Black Spring who remain in Cuba have been summoned to the Immigration offices, presumably to regularize their situation and allow them to travel abroad before Barack Obama’s visit to the island. So far only two among them have had their appointments and the rest will do so throughout the morning and the afternoon.

In the citation they are summoned “to the section covering immigration and nationality to resolve their immigration status.” The document is signed by Maria Cristina Martinez Bello, according to a report from the dissident Martha Beatriz Roque to this newspaper.

In addition to Arnaldo Lauzurique and Martha Beatriz Roque, those cited so far include Oscar Elias Biscet, Hector Maseda, Jorge Olivera, Eduardo Diaz Fleitas and Félix Navarro.

Those not summoned to appear include Angel Moya, José Daniel Ferrer, Iván Hernández Carrillo and Librado Linares.

The eleven former prisoners of the Black Spring residing in Cuba have been prevented from leaving the country under the legal justification that they are “on parole,” a situation that has been widely condemned by international human rights organizations.

In March of 2003, the government ordered the arrest of 75 dissidents, including 29 independent journalists. They were sentenced to long prison terms. In 2010, after mediation through the Catholic Church, they were released in exchange for their departure to Spain, but the eleven remaining in Cuba did not want to leave the country.

The Other Flag / 14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar

Secretary of State of the United States, John Kerry, in his Friday meeting with dissidents in Havana
Secretary of State of the United States, John Kerry, in his Friday meeting with dissidents in Havana

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar, 15 August 2015 — Six hours after the hoisting of the Stars and Stripes at the US embassy along the Malecon, a similar ceremony occurred on 150th Street in the Cubanacan neighborhood where the official residence of Jeffrey DeLaurentis, charge d’affaires of that country, is located.

All of the heads of the United States Interest Section have lived in this mansion in recent years, and there is a flagpole in its garden. Across from it, congregated hundreds of guests who did not physically fit in the small space where hours earlier American and Cuban officials had witnessed the symbolic act that opened the US embassy in Havana. continue reading

The celebration at the residence was attended by diplomats, representatives of civil society, clergy, intellectuals and Cuban artists along with the large delegation that accompanied John Kerry in his trip to Cuba, including the three Marines who, 54 years ago, lowered the flag when the countries broke off relations, who given the honor of participating in the raising. The US Army Brass Quintet played an international repertoire, with no shortage Cuban pieces such as Guantanamera and Manisero.

In a half-hour meeting, representatives of civil society shared with Kerry their concerns and expectations

In the official residence John Kerry held a half-hour meeting behind closed doors with representatives of civil society activists and independent journalists, including Dagoberto Valdes, Elsa Morejon, Hector Maseda, Jose Daniel Ferrer, Manuel Cuesta Morua, Martha Beatriz Roque, Miriam Leiva, Oscar Elias Biscet, Yoani Sanchez and Reinaldo Escobar. Those present shared with Kerry the concerns and expectations generated by the restoration of relations between the two countries and presented an overview of the different projects they are engaged in.

Although the official media did not mention this activity on the busy schedule of the Secretary of State, it was one of the moments that marked the character of the Kerry’s visit to Cuba because it was the only thing that could provoke, and in fact did provoke, friction and controversy.

The Cuban leaders were annoyed because they would have preferred a distancing between the highest US official to step on Cuban soil in half a century, and this part of the non-conforming Cuban citizenry, persecuted, slandered and discriminated against by the government.

Others who shared this annoyance were some opponents, such as the leader of the Ladies in White Berta Soler and activist Antonio Gonzalez Rodiles, who declined the invitation they received because they believe that the US government has betrayed them “to establish relations with the dictatorship.”

If there is no progress on the issue of human rights in Cuba, there will be no lifting of the embargo, Kerry said plainly

At the meeting there was nothing that deserves to be classified as secret talks or as parallel agreements. The Cuban guests offered a general explanation of the four points of consensus from civil society, promoted by the Civil Society Open Forum, expressed the need for the United States to unblock all brakes it applies today on internet access for Cubans, and mentioned different initiatives such as developing proposals for a new Electoral Law, creating a “think tank” on Cuban affairs, and the civic actions of different political platforms.

Similarly, guests expressed the concern that main beneficiary of the restoration of relations is the Cuban government, and that the Cuban people will continue to suffer just as if nothing had occurred. Perhaps most important was the response of Kerry on this point. The Secretary of State committed to maintaining his government’s interest in advances on issues of human rights in Cuba. If no steps are taken in this direction there will be no lifting of the embargo, he said plainly.

Oscar Elias Biscet Prohibited From Leaving His Home

Oscar Elias Biscet and his wife Elsa Morejon
Oscar Elias Biscet and his wife Elsa Morejon

Dr. Oscar Elias Biscet was arrested this morning near his home in the Lawton neighborhood, according to his wife Elsa Morejon’s Twitter account. Cubanet called the home of the opposition leader and was surprised when Biscet answered. He had been released.

Biscet told us that early in the morning two security officials came to his house and warned him not to go out into the street during the preparation for the CELAC summit, that is, from now until the presidents invited to the summit leave the Island. The meeting of the 33 Latin American and Caribbean countries is scheduled for 28-29 January.

The opponent protested that he was not going to abide by that dictatorial measure. And he would go where he had to go. Half an hour later they grabbed him in the street.

He was walking four blocks from his home when a civilian car stopped and two individuals identifying themselves as State Security got out. One of them asked Biscet for all his documents, keeping them. And told him he had to accompany them. That is, they took him into custody.

They drive about two blocks to what looked like a workplace. There one of the officials — according to Biscet — called his superiors on the phone to ask them what to do with the detainee. Evidently they told him to let him go. They returned to the car and took him back to his house. Repeating the warning that he was not to go out into the street or he would be arrested.

Oscar Elias Biscet told us that the headquarters of the Union for Cuba, on 100th Street near Fortuna, is surrounded by forces of the regime. No one can come closer than two blocks .

Last November, the Cuban government was prevented Elias Biscet leaving the country, after he was invited by President Barack Obama to the White House ceremony for the award of the Presidential Medal of Freedom in Washington. His wife, the activist Elsa Morejon, attended the celebration. On that occasion she visited Cubanet.

Cubanet, 24 January 2014

Interview with Winnie Biscet, Courtesy of Punt de Vista / Oscar Elías Biscet

“They have tried to psychologically assassinate my father”

By Joan Antoni Guerrero Vall

Winnie Biscet is the only daughter of the political prisoner Oscar Elias Biscet. During the last few days, she has been setting up a campaign to collect signatures for the release of her father. In this interview, she talks to us about her father’s career, about the conditions he has had to live under throughout the last 10 years of confinement, and about the unjust nature of his prison sentence. Strongly religious, Biscet’s daughter, who lives in the United States, is convinced that her father will be released from jail and will continue fighting, from the Island, to finally see a democratic Cuba, despite the lingering possibility that the regime could easily jail him once again.

How long has Óscar Elías Biscet been imprisoned? What were the reasons for his imprisonment?

My father was jailed because he was against the practice of abortions in Cuba. He was defending the human being, that being still in the stomach of a mother, the being which hasn’t even been born yet. That’s why he was condemned to three years in prison. Once he actually completed that three year sentence, he left jail, only to once again be imprisoned 36 days after, this time being sentenced to 25 years.

Did this occur in 2003?

Yes, during the Black Spring. They jailed him before the prisoners of the Group of the 75. In reality, he wasn’t exactly from that group. He was already jailed before that, though they did hold a trial for him together with the 75.

What interactions or communications has he had with his family during all this time?

Family members are allowed to visit him every two months. Those who are allowed are his brother, his father, his mother, his wife, and his kids. However, since I am an only child and I don’t live in Cuba, his cousins or his niece can visit him.

You left Cuba after this last imprisonment?

Yes. I left Cuba after he was sentenced to 25 years.

Have you been able to go back to visit him?

I was able to return in 2006 and I was able to see him twice.

What did he transmit to you during those last visits, and what has he communicated to you within the last couple of months?

My dad has always written letters to me which state that he is there for a cause, and that cause is human rights, rights for Cubans, for the right of that child which hasn’t even been born yet. He has always tried to explain to me how to be a better person, how to confront those people who don’t understand why he is in jail, and what is his purpose.

In the petition, your dad’s character is relayed as a symbol…

I think that my dad is a symbol because of all that he has done. He has been a firm patriot. He always has an answer, he thinks things through very well, each of his steps are calculated well. He is a person who has thoroughly studied himself, learning to control himself to not offend or hurt anyone. I believe that all the things my father has done has been in the form of a teacher, with others seeing him from a student’s perspective, wanting to do the same thing. He has been able to reach a position that many other people can’t, not because they are not qualified or dumb, but because each person has their own calling. And my father has done a lot of things that other people have not been able to. He is a person who defends life, he likes just causes, and defends things with all his heart and passion, down to the very last consequence. That’s why I think he is a symbol worth following.

Today, the European Union’s Common Position towards Cuba is up for debate. It was expected that those prisoners who have chosen not to leave Cuba were supposed to be released. Do you have hope that the regime will fulfill its promise?

Yes. I strongly believe in God, and I know that God will not let us down. I know that the only thing my dad has done has been to defend freedom in Cuba. He has never used a gun, he has never hurt anyone, he hasn’t offended anyone, and I think that when a person is just and sincere, then God will give him the power to succeed. And, like I’ve always said, my dad is a very Christian person, he trusts and has faith. And I know he will come out of jail, because God has taken note of all the good things he has done throughout his life, and like I say, when one is the son of God, he will never leave you alone. I have lots of faith that he will be released, that he will be home soon with his family, and that I will see him soon.

There were some rumors going around that this weekend various prisoners would be released. Has your dad been notified of such news?

I sincerely do not have an answer to that. What I can say is that his name is on the list of those who will be released. I don’t know if it will be today or in a month, but I am very sure that he will be released.

Once liberated from prison, and if he keeps up his political activities, do you think that the regime would be tolerant with him from now on?

No, I don’t believe that. I think he very well knows what awaits him. Ever since he was jailed ten years ago, he is very aware that he lives with the possibility of being jailed again and again, but like I say, when you have God in your heart, even if there is a president or anyone that wants to harm you, you will always make it through whatever awaits you. My dad is a very studious person, he is very strong, he has a very strong personality, and he thinks things through very well before acting. And I know that he knows what awaits him. But when God is in your heart, anything can be achieved. And he hasn’t harmed anyone, he hasn’t killed anyone, he simply wants a free Cuba. If the government doesn’t like that, well, I really don’t know what I can tell you. I just know that my dad has not harmed anyone and that the only thing we are demanding from the Cuban government is that they release him, because he is a Cuban just like the rest of us. He is a very dignified man. All that he says he says with much authority because he knows what he is talking about. In prison, he has been subjected to all sorts of tortures and absurdities on behalf of the government, simply for defending his brothers, his fellow Cubans.

Throughout these past ten years, what moment has been the most difficult for your father while in jail?

My father has been imprisoned for ten years, and if you ask me, every single second of that confinement must be difficult for him. He has not told me exactly what he has gone through, but being his daughter and because I am a strong believer in God, I have placed him in my heart and I can feel that he has suffered greatly at every moment. He has written some letters to me that can make anyone cry. He has seen lots of injustices in prison, people who have committed suicide for example, and that is very difficult. Once, he told me that they wanted to psychologically kill him. And it’s true. When someone is locked up in a punishment cell, that is what the intent is — to try to kill you mentally. My father knows this too well. I know that he has suffered throughout his life, but he is an honorable man who finds himself locked away because he is committed to the freedom of his country. Even before he has been in prison, he has still suffered, for they have tried many times to knock him down. But like I’ve told you, when you keep God in your heart, anything is possible, and no one can ever counter God — not Fidel, not the Revolution, no one.

You mentioned torture. What kind of tortures did your dad suffer?

For one, they have tried to drill absurd statements into his head, like foul words, or telling him that he is going crazy, that he will not be able to continue fighting, or that he is worth nothing. You know, those things damage people. Another thing they did was to strip from him his medical license. Imagine just how much he sacrificed to become someone in life, and then a person who is not even your relative or anything comes and snatches from him his title as a doctor. It’s horrible. He was a doctor who saved lives, who cared about his patients, and now they don’t let him exercise his profession. My dad has lived through some cruel things. Once, they punched him and he lost a tooth. Something like that is physical abuse, but can you imagine that he actually remained silent and took it in, that’s what it means to be a respectful and dignified person. He didn’t fire back with a punch because he respects his brothers. My dad knows when he is wrong or not when chatting with another person. And I think it’s absurd that a man be punched, to the point of loosing a tooth, just for thinking differently. Despite all these injustices which have landed upon him, he has not been violent.

Throughout these years, has his family faced obstacles in being able to see him in jail?

They have gone to jail to visit him. When I was in Cuba, though, sometimes they wouldn’t allow you to visit him for three to five months. I was very young, but I remember. It was frustrating because I had to go from Havana, where we used to live, all the way to Holguin. It was a 14 hour trip — a very difficult journey which would sometimes end with the guards refusing us to see him. It was very devastating for us, especially since I strongly wanted to see my dad, whom I love very much, and then they would just come out and flat out tell us that we couldn’t because he was being punished for having behaved badly. But we all know that in reality, he has never misbehaved. He has always respected people. The truth is that the things he does, they do not approve of. And when you’re against a government, then many harsh things tumble down after you.

Besides abortion, your father had some other ides which didn’t sit too well with the government…

He wanted his country to be free and democratic, like the United States. He strongly believed that if you wanted to go out and say “Down with Fidel”, then that was your right you wouldn’t suffer any repercussions for expressing your ideas. Also, if you wanted to build something, then you should be able to go ahead and do it. He considered the system to be very unjust, and that’s why he decided to fight for his country.

Who is helping you with this campaign and what is planned at the moment?

The campaign is organized by former political prisoners who suffered sentences of up to 28 years. They are amazing people who have decided to help with my campaign to free my father. The objective is the absolute freedom of Oscar Elias Biscet. I ask of everyone who reads this interview to please visit the blog ( and sign the petition. It’s the only help we can ask for Oscar Elias Biscet, who only wanted freedom for himself and for the rest of Cuba. We want a free Cuba, with freedom of expression, of being able to do whatever we want to do without having any conflicting pressures. Please help us free my father.

See the original interview on the blog Punt de Vista, here.

October 28, 2010

El Nuevo Herald: Article About the Campaign to Free Dr. Biscet / Oscar Elías Biscet

Dr. Oscar Elías Biscet

By Juan Carlos Chavez

Winnie Biscet, daughter of the Cuban prisoner of conscience Oscar Elías Biscet, launched an international campaign to demand for the immediate release of her father, sentenced to 25 years in a maximum security prison.

“We ask for his unconditional release,” said Winnie, age 22. “And to achieve this we are opening a website and a blog. I want people to know him not only as a patriot, but also as a father.

Winnie is also sending a letter to president Barack Obama asking for his help, and for him to denounce the abuses against Biscet. By Wednesday, she had already collected over 300 signatures.

“I miss my father terribly. I fear for his health and safety. But I support his decision, his continued resistance to tyranny and his strong commitment to freedom and human rights for all Cubans,” her letter said. “Please, Mr. President, join us in this fight and do so publicly, because your support will help to make all the people of the world aware of this injustice.”

Exile organizations, such as Former Cuban Political Prisoners Organization, have joined the call for his unconditional release. The president of the group, Rodolfo Rodríguez San Román, said the release should not be contingent on his leaving the country.

“We are going to fight for him, for freedom without exile,” Rodriguez said.

Biscet is one of at least five political prisoners who have refused to leave Cuba under the current process of releases, which began after talks between the island’s Catholic Church and the government. Incarcerated since 2003, in the Combinado del Este prison in Havana, the 48-year-old Biscet is one of the prisoners most critical of the Cuban government. He started his opposition in 1986, shortly after graduating in medicine. In November 2007, former president George W. Bush awarded him the Presidential Freedom Medal, in absentia.

Biscet gained international fame when he released a document condemning the indiscriminate use of the drug Rivanol in Cuba, a drug intended to induce abortions.

See the original interview here.

October 30, 2010

Letter to Vaclav Havel, President of the Czech Republic / Oscar Elías Biscet

Havana, October 15, 1999

Your Excellency:

Respectfully I salute you and express my admiration to you and your people, and join this celebration of the tenth anniversary of the Velvet Revolution in which your country became free from the communist yoke through a peaceful revolution.

The example of Czechoslovakia has left a deep impression in many Cubans who desire peaceful transition towards democracy and freedom. When I walk through the streets of my neighborhood where small businesses are unable to develop due to high taxation and arbitrary laws dictated by the Castro government, I am reminded of you and the days you lived in your country before 1989. Increasing numbers of people are abandoning the practice of lying to display their inconformity with injustice of a totalitarian regime.

But, what reminds me most of communist Czechoslovakia is the times that we spend in jail, for exercising our freedom of expression. Inside these prisons we suffer physical abuse, torture and humiliation. When I see the faces of those who perform these acts, I remember that the political police of the Soviet and the Czechoslovakian dictatorship trained them.

Today there are many prisoners of conscience in Cuba. Several humanitarian and political organizations have decided to organize a peaceful march on the tenth of November to demand freedom for political prisoners and the repeal of all laws that violate human rights.

We request your support, and together with all men and women committed to all just and humanitarian causes, join in an international campaign in order to achieve the objectives of this march for human rights for Cuba.

As we speak, a group or Cuban dissidents are studying the non-violent thought of Ghandi and yours as well, because we want a peaceful and civilized transition in our country. We are willing to suffer like Jan Palach on behalf of human dignity and freedom in order to give birth to the Third Republic, one based in respect to human rights.

We will succeed because we carry in our hearts the words of King Solomon: “Trust God in everything and with all your heart and do not depend on your prudence. Recognize Him in all your travails and He will straighten your ways, don’t consider your own opinions wise, fear God and avoid evil and it will be medicine for your body and food for your bones.”

I thank God for men like you, Mister President, defenders of liberty and human dignity.

May God bless you,


Doctor Oscar Elias Biscet
President of the Lawton Foundation for Human Rights

Originally posted October 28, 2010

Message from Dr. Biscet to the People of Cuba and the International Community / Oscar Elías Biscet

Fidel Castro has abandoned power. He should have done it 20 years ago when Mijail Gorbachov traveled to the island. He wisely recommended that. It would have eliminated many years of misery, lack of freedom, and cruel suffering of the Cuban people under his prolonged, unnecessary and mismanaged office.

His brother Raul inherited his office and his communist party which maintains a one party totalitarian system with the only difference being that of applying more state terror on the population during his short term in office.

The Cuban people and the leaders of the opposition movement need to fast and pray to the God of the Bible and demand from the national government that it sign and comply with the International Agreements on Human, Civil, Political, Cultural, and Social Rights.

Thanks to the support of the Cuban community in exile and to the governments and free and democratic countries, after one year and 5 months of pressure, the regime in Havana promised to comply with these objectives which have yet to come to pass.

When the aforementioned demands are met and the following liberties are granted:

Liberation of all political prisoners and prisoners of conscience without deportation.

Participation in the political and economical affairs of the nation with the same rights as any other Cuban, including exiles without exception.

Permission to legalize different political parties according to the interests of the people.

Revocation of the constitution and of the absolute power of the communist party over society.

Commitment to carry out free and democratic elections. then would we be able to say that the period of democratic transition in Cuba has begun.

Gorbachov in the former Soviet Union, Pinochet in Chile, and Decler in South Africa had the courage and pragmatism to initiate democratic reforms. It is the desire of the Cuban people to live in peace, well being, and happiness, and freedom.

The present government should set reforms in motion destined to meet these objectives and its citizens must continue their pursuit by means of civil disobedience.

“Woe to those who enact on just statutes and who write oppressive decrees, depriving the needy of judgment and robbing my people’s poor of their rights, making widows their plunder and orphans their prey! What will you do on the day of punishment, when ruin comes from afar? To whom will you flee for help? Where will you leave your wealth, lest it sink beneath the captive or fall beneath the slain? For all this, his wrath is not turned back, his hand is still outstretched!” Isaiah 10:1-4.

Dr. Oscar Elias Biscet

Originally posted October 28, 2010

Message from Dr. Biscet / Oscar Elías Biscet

Letter written by Oscar Elias Biscet, from Havana, August [1st. 2007] Prison Combinado del Este, 2nd floor, cell 12232

To the people of Cuba, fellow citizens, people in fasting

The people of Cuba have been suffering the contempt of a totalitarian tyranny, communism, for over more than four decades. Due to this cruel treatment where the honor of the people is violated, many Cubans have gotten indignant and have risen and joined together to fast and pray to the God of the Bible and demand that the government sign the International Agreements of Human Rights (International Agreements for Civil and Political Rights, and the other for the Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights) created in 1966 by the international community of the United Nations.

As we have well expressed, these demands are to the government of Cuba, independently of who is the head of the government because we say, like the people of Boston: “Tyranny is tyranny, no matter where it comes from.”

That’s why we must continue our day of prayer and fasting until the signing is achieved and the practice of respecting the human rights of the people of Cuba is fulfilled. We must speed up the quest for these basic human rights by means of civil disobedience and by putting into practice all the methods to achieve our humanitarian aims.

“If there is no fight, there is no progress…”

“Power does not grant anything without a demand. It has never done it, and it never will.” (Frederick Douglass)

We have the right to be free, to use our sovereignty as individuals and as people and “Only freedom produces peace and wealth.” (Jose Marti)

Here in this dark box where they make me live, I will be resisting until freedom for my people is gained.

Dr. Oscar Elias Biscet

President of the Lawton Foundation for Human Rights

Originally posted October 28, 2010

Unjust Imprisonment / Oscar Elías Biscet

The following letter was written in 2007 by Winnie Biscet, daughter of Dr. Oscar Elias Biscet.

My Father, Dr. Oscar Elias Biscet was born on July 20, 1961 in Havana, Cuba. My father is Founder and President of Lawton Foundation. This organization is considered illegal by the Cuban government. My father, Oscar is a Cuban physician and is a very spiritual man. I feel that he follows the same philosophies as Dr. Martin Luther King and Thoreau. Oscar was unjustly sentenced to three years in prison on February 26, 1999 for a crime of flying the Cuban flag upside down, which is an International recognized symbol of distress. Before his sentence Oscar had been arbitrarily detained twenty six times in eighteen months. On February 1998, he was then expelled from the Cuban National Health System. He and his family were evicted from their home. My father is presently in prison right now because he continues to defend the Human Rights in Cuba. The Cuban prison is a place where no one wants to be. It is a place where persons are restrained from any personal freedom.

The Cuban Government condemned my father to twenty-five years in prison for his role in attempting to promote integrity and sovereignty to the Cuban people. His life is constantly in danger in prison. He is presently experiencing a lot of physical problems. He had lost weight since he has been incarcerated and his teeth and mouth show signs of deterioration. This is all due to the fact that he is not receiving proper medical treatment that should be provided by the military personnel. Most of the time my father is isolated in a cell as punishment. He does not participate in any Communist activities and he does not like to go to the dining hall to eat because of inadequate cleanliness. Proper healthy food is scarce in prisons. Prisoners get into fights and then the authorities issue violations. The authorities treat my father badly and of course they try to take away all of his human rights. I know that prison life is very difficult for him but, even with all of his physical problems, he seems to be coping well mentally. That is something that I am thankful for.

My father is presently serving twenty-five years in a Cuban prison. He is only allowed one visit every three months for two hours. Only two people can be chosen to visit him. This becomes difficult to choose between mother, father, brother, and wife. He tells me that all the conditions are poor, poor, poor. I do remember when I use to go visit my father in prison. I felt very disappointed about the situation and I knew that it was an unhappy place to be. I noticed that a lot of the prisoners seemed angry with their family and friends. They looked depressed and many did not want to talk about anything. There is no safety in a Cuban prison. I feel very depress about my father many times, but I know that the one good thing that I can do is to study and to work diligently. I know that my father will be very proud of me!

I demand the immediate release of my father so that this peaceful Human Rights Activist may continue his struggle to see his country free one day. I ask men and women of good will, Human Rights Organizations, the Press, Democratic Nations, and everyone who has a voice, to denounce the Cuban Government for the unjust incarceration of my father, Dr. Oscar Elias Biscet, whose only crime is to honor the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in his country, Cuba.

-Winnie Biscet, daughter of Oscar Elias Biscet

Originally posted: October 27, 2010