Jose Daniel Ferrer’s Jailers Stop His Family From Visiting Him One More Time

His wife, Nelva Ismarays Ortega Tamayo, denounced that the agents had limited themselves to accepting the “bag” of food and medicine she brought.

José Daniel Ferrer, leader of UNPACU, imprisoned in Santiago de Cuba, in an archive image.

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 10 May 2024 — The Mar Verde high-security prison authorities in Santiago de Cuba prevented political prisoner José Daniel Ferrer’s family from visiting him last Monday. In an audio sent via WhatsApp, his wife, Nelva Ismarays Ortega Tamayo, denounced that the jailers had limited themselves to accepting the “bag” of food and medicine that she brought to the leader of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU).

Ortega Tamayo was scheduled to make a regular visit to her husband and was accompanied by her four-year-old son, Daniel José, and her stepdaughter, Fátima. The agents blocked their way and only accepted “the bag with food, hygiene products, toiletries and some medicines.”

This has been happening for “more than a year,” laments the woman, who sees in this act a constant and unpunished violation of her husband’s rights, and in addition to this, they have cancelled their “family and marital visits” without prior notice. On May 3, she exemplifies, a conjugal visit was scheduled, but the prison guards made her wait several hours only to tell her that she could not see Ferrer, thus showing off their “abuse of power so characteristic of them.”It is “psychological torture,” to which she is already accustomed, says Ortega Tamayo.

“The dictatorship insists on keeping him isolated not only from the rest of the prison population but also from his own family,” she adds. Ferrer remains “in the same punishment and isolation cell since August 14, 2021, under inhuman, cruel and degrading conditions, being a victim of mistreatment and physical and psychological violence. Deprived of his liberty. Poorly fed. Drinking non-potable water most of the time, prisoners have to carry the water over long distances because tanker trucks hardly ever reach there,” she says.

For more than two years he has only been entitled to 12 family visits and 9 marital visits, the woman summarizes

Nor does he have medical or dental care, Ortega Tamayo denounces, and he is exposed – like all prisoners on the island, she emphasizes – to “malnutrition, parasitism, leptospirosis and tuberculosis,” due to coming in contact with “rats, bedbugs, ticks, cockroaches, etc.”

For more than two years she has only been entitled to 12 family visits and 9 marital visits, summarizes the woman, who also complains about Ferrer’s inability to make phone calls. The regime is determined to “slowly bury him alive and make his life miserable,” she says. The family suffers constant frustration and anguish, she explains, and can only wonder “how he is, where he is” or whether he has started a new hunger strike or has been beaten.

“We call on international solidarity to keep supporting my husband and complaining about the abuses suffered by him in prison,” her message concludes, holding Miguel Díaz-Canel and Raúl Castro accountable for Ferrer’s physical and mental integrity. “We fear very much for my husband’s life, so we will continue to demand proof of life and his immediate and unconditional release.”

On April 1, the authorities agreed to allow Ortega Tamayo to visit Ferrer for “two measly minutes.” Until March, the political prisoner had not been able to communicate with his family for a year. “At seven in the morning I was standing in front of the prison, and at 10, in the waiting room, First Lieutenant Iranis Pozo, as he identified himself, showed up and took me to the office where we used to do family visits,” Ortega said. She also pointed out that in the office, guarded by “a female guard” so that her position could not be heard from outside, the agent tried to convince her to abandon her “stand.”

“Realizing that I would stand my ground and that the only way to get me out was in a police car or after allowing me to see my husband, the same officer told me that they would give me two minutes, after talking to the Headquarters and State Security,” she then explained.

Among the few words they exchanged, Ferrer asked her to denounce his situation and that of other prisoners such as Fernando González Vaillant and Roilán Zárraga Ferrer, who have already served their respective sentences – in González’s and Zárraga’s case “months ago”– but remain in prison. “The dictatorship doesn’t want them out on the streets,” Ortega said.

José Daniel Ferrer has been in prison since 2021 before he could join the 11 July 2021 (’11J’) mass protests, although the history of repression against him began much earlier. The opposition leader was part of the group of prisoners of the Black Spring, he was sentenced to death, the conviction was commuted to 25 years in prison and he was released after eight years thanks to the Vatican’s efforts and Spain’s mediation.

Translated by L.A.R


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