In Anguish, the Wife of a July 11th Prisoner on a Hunger Strike in Cuba, ‘He Could Lose His Life’

Yosvany Rosell García Caso was sentenced to 15 years in prison for sedition. (Courtesy)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar, Havana, 31 May 2023 — Before July 11, 2021, Yosvany Rosell García Caso spent his days between working as a welder and rearing his three children. That Sunday his life took a turn when he joined the mass protests in Holguín. Six months later, he was sentenced to 15 years in prison for sedition. Wednesday marked his 20th day on a hunger strike, demanding his immediate release.

“My husband has lost a lot of weight and he is very frail; he barely weighs 55 kilograms after so many days without a taste of food,” Mailín Rodríguez Sánchez tells 14ymedio. “On May 29th they transferred him from the Cuba Sí prison in El Yayal to the Lucía Iñiguez Landín Clinical Surgical Hospital.

“He is refusing intravenous hydration,” adds Rodríguez, who spoke with her husband to “try to get him to change his position.” However, 34-year-old Rosell was determined to “continue the hunger strike because he is tired of having his rights, and that of other 11J prisoners, continuously violated.”

“I understand him perfectly, but he is in a situation where he could lose his life and that worries me greatly,” says the anguished woman. Rosell began the hunger strike on May 11, following an incident where prison authorities denied him a visit from his wife and his three children, and as the days passed he expanded his demands to include his release as soon as possible.

“We have three children five, six and 14 years old. The younger ones are aware of what is happening with their father, but the oldest does know everything,” explained Rodríguez to us. “Since yesterday my daughter is asking me to go see her father and we are making arrangements so she can visit him in the hospital. I hope she will talk to him and get him out of the position he is now in.”

Since he began the hunger strike, the woman, desperately, has gone to the prison on four occasions, but they did not allow her to see him and they did not even allow him religious attention. “After much begging they only let me see him yesterday at midday when he was already in the hospital. Today I am going over there again to see if they will let me in,” she said.

Rodríguez says that the damage is not only emotional or physical, “In addition to violating his human rights, the family has lived through two very difficult years, because he was the breadwinner. We’ve suffered repression and an economic hit for his being in prison. He, working as a welder and blacksmith, provided for the family.”

This is not the first time Rosell is on a hunger strike. In February 2022, he did not eat while demanding that he not be transferred from Holguín to a prison in Cienfuegos and demanding improved conditions in prison. At that time, he had been the victim of suspended telephone calls or being kept in isolation.

Several months later, in July of last year, Rossell once again resorted to a hunger strike after being beaten for dressing in white in remembrance of the mass protests on 11J.

“I do not regret anything in the least bit. How could I regret wanting to see my country free of a communist dictatorship, which for more than 60 years, has subjected us to extreme misery and violated all our human rights? That blessed July 11th not only marked a before and after the beginning of the end of communism in Cuba, it also showed the worst face of the dictatorship,” he wrote in a letter shared on social media weeks earlier.

Translated by: Silvia Suárez


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