Prisons in Guantanamo / 14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar

Protest action to demand the closure of the U.S. prison on the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base. (Amnesty International)
Protest action to demand the closure of the U.S. prison on the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base. (Amnesty International)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar, Havana, 4 February 2016 – To the shame of the United States justice system, the prison at the Guantanamo Naval Base is 14 years old today. Since 2003, 680 detainees have arrived there, though today there are fewer than one hundred. Several of them are on hunger strike and are force fed through tubes. Prestigious media such as The New York Times have published letters from the inmates denouncing abuses; international human rights organizations have exposed the use of torture at this prison compound where the laws of no country in the world apply. President Barack Obama has promised to end this atrocity. He has not succeeded.

Not far away, on the road that runs from the provincial capital to the town of Jamaica, is Cuba’s Guantanamo Provincial Prison. It has the reputation of being the prison with the worst food in all of Cuba.

Prisoners of conscience who have passed through this facility say that what works best there are the prisoners’ councils, made up of common criminals, organized to beat and attack the “politicals” when ordered. Cubans who have tried to leave the country through the Naval Base are held there. It doesn’t matter what province they come from, with rare exceptions they end up there with a two to five year sentence for violating the border perimeter.

Another singularity of the place are the numerous incidents of self-harm that occur there. Some inmates who can’t stand the prison regime buy blood from fellow inmates with HIV to infect themselves. There is also every kind of self-mutilation.

In June 2007, a young man named Yosvani Correa Lafernal injected himself with excrement and died a week later of a widespread infection, without medical attention. Another Guantanamo inmate, known as Hannibal had to have both of his arms amputated after he injectd oil into his veins.

Many other cases have never been properly documented, nor have the hunger strikes, the beatings, the lack of medical care. No government authority has ever spoken about it, no official press has never mentioned this.

To the shame of all Cubans, that is Cuba’s Guantanamo prison.