14ymedio, Havana, 23 June 2023 — After numerous demands to obtain a certificate of life from Cuban opponent José Daniel Ferrer, the authorities agreed to allow his family to visit him this Thursday, after three months without being able to see him. His wife, Nelva Ismarays Ortega Tamayo, and their two children verified that the leader of the Cuban Patriotic Union (UNPACU) is in a terrible state of health, half-naked and confined in an isolation cell in the Mar Verde prison, in Santiago from Cuba.
The account of the family visit, published on Facebook by the opponent’s sister, Ana Belkis Ferrer García, accuses the regime of keeping him in “cruel, inhuman and degrading conditions, under constant physical and psychological torture,” subjected to the bites of “aggressive and dangerous mosquitoes, ants and rodents.”
Upset by a video about Ferrer’s health, published on social networks by a Cuban emigrant, identified as Laura Jusino and with alleged contacts with prison staff who gave her details about the opponent’s condition, the relatives were “alarmed and horrified ” due to the inmate’s situation and redoubled their requests to see him. Ferrer, Jusino claimed, was in the hands of “hitmen” and his whereabouts were a “state secret.”
This Thursday, Ortega announced that she was going to the prison after having access to “a note supposedly handwritten” by Ferrer in which he asked for broad-spectrum antibiotics and various types of pain relievers. This “confirms how poorly his health is, what deplorable conditions he is in,” his wife said.
When she was allowed to enter, Ortega saw him “in his underwear, with difficulty walking, severe pain in his hands, arms and legs, extremely thin, with toothaches and loss of vision.”
His body, she adds, is “full of lesions” and he refused to hug his son so as not to infect him with “the bacteria that he has had on his skin for months.” The UNPACU leader told his wife that he “could not walk” during the months of April and May, and that he now walks with great difficulty. Thanks to the ibuprofen provided by the family, he now feels “some relief,” but still does not know to what to attribute the “immobilizing pains” he suffers from. Ferrer’s sister, speaking from the US, denounced that he does not have medical attention or adequate treatment for his ailments, his access to water is restricted and he is forced to endure heat. He feeds himself only from the bag of groceries that his relatives bring her every month.
He has suffered torture, he declares, and a few days ago he was taken from the Mar Verde prison to the clinical-surgical hospital in Santiago de Cuba “with the apparent purpose of extracting one of his damaged teeth.” However, the piece removed by the dentists was healthy, while those that were in poor condition were not extracted. “A G2 agent later went to his cell to mock and threaten him, saying that ’everything he was going through was preventable, that he just had to agree to leave the country,’” his sister recounts.
Prison officials have also failed to provide Ferrer with the painkillers and antibiotics that the family brought him. When he demands the medicines, the jailers say that they will be given to him by the prison doctor.
“It is totally confirmed that my brother is being murdered in the slowest, most perverse and cruel way that can exist, in the midst of such a difficult and worrying situation, he sends his message of gratitude to all the supportive people, friends, brothers in struggle and ideas, media, institutions and justice-loving governments,” concludes Ana Belkis Ferrer. “He states that he does not lose hope of getting out of such hell alive, but if he does not, remember that he was always willing to give his life for the freedom of his people.”
Several days ago a campaign began inside and outside Cuba to demand information on Ferrer’s whereabouts. On Thursday, Amelia Calzadilla, a young mother from Havana who has become one of the symbols of discontent in Cuba, demanded respect for the right for the opponent’s relatives to “see him and verify that he is fine even if he is detained.”
Ferrer is one of the more than 700 political prisoners that the Cuban regime has kept in its jails since the massive protests of July 11, 2021, to which dozens of detainees have been added from the demonstrations in recent months. During these almost two years, his family has denounced on several occasions that the inmate has been the victim of torture, beatings and threats.
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