Letters from the San José Prison, Part 4 / Wendy Iriepa and Ignacio Estrada

Mayabeque, Cuba — My name is Yulemi Herreras López. I am 26 years old. I have been sentenced to 14 years without freedom. I lost my career. They sentenced me without anyone accusing me; the police accuse me and I acquired HIV/AIDS through unstable sexual relations.

As a nursing student, I can say that medical attention here is the worst. A week ago, I had a high fever and I was taken to the infirmary and the only thing there was for me was Cogri. My fever only decreased thanks to one of my companions who gave me a pill that his mother gives him from the outside.

The physical and verbal abuse, the poor food: this is what is most seen here, and we cannot place ourselves at their level because they mistreat us physically; they put us in the punishment cell.

If they gave me the opportunity, I would ask for improvements from the Cuban authorities. If they are going to keep us here, why is it like a concentration camp? If only it would improve. We want the medical attention to improve, the preparation of the food to improve, everything that can improve to improve.

Most of those found here are young and here as in our country our errors are chains that we drag. We do not have freedom of speech: if a jail and prison inspector comes in, we cannot say anything because apart from the fact that they have us coerced, it does not resolve anything.

This was the best prison that rose to the national level, but is is like a fruit: pretty on the outside, but rotten on the inside. The inspections take place: everything on the outside is very good, but the problems are really on the inside, and they are not resolved.

When someone comes, they prepare the outside and when a prisoner expresses some problem, he is branded crazy.

They are practically killing us; they are killing us psychologically.

I have been imprisoned for four years and I have seen no positive results for us here in the AIDS Jail of San José de las Lajas. If there is some preventative work with those sick with HIV/AIDS, we do not know, and if there is, they do not work with us.

I would like to send a message to the Cuban youth, so they do not arrive here. The mistreatment is chilling and they should protect themselves 100% because as the saying goes, AIDS has no face.

Translated by: M. Ouellette

January 23 2012