Letters Should be Read and Not Left Unanswered / Wendy Iriepa and Ignacio Estrada

By: Ignacio Estrada Cepero, Executive Director of The Cuban League against AIDS.

With the special collaboration Information Center Hablemos Pres.

Havana, Cuba, Letters from San Jose Prison is a collection in the first four letters sent by inmates with HIV / AIDS to the Information Center of Hablamos Pres. with the objective that they would be published in different sites with the sole end of appealing to the prison authorities of the island to improve the prison system for people with HIV / AIDS.

Letters from San Jose Prison chronicles the experiences of adults closing in on old age and some younger. For those unfamiliar with it, San Jose Prison is located in the municipality of San José, the old Havana province, now Mayabeque. It is known within the National Directorate of Prisons as a Special Unit on AIDS. For people like me who have lived the bitter experience of being detained in a prison like this, we know it has nothing special. What I can assure you from my experience and testimony is that it is a prison like any other.

On the island there are a total of six prisons for the detention of prisoners with HIV / AIDS. At first they  said they were prisons equipped with medical equipment, good food, and that people who would receive sentences in such establishments were treated differently to other prisons. Reality as always was different, but I do not want it to be me who narrates what happens in places like this, I want those who live in the prison right now to become their own historians, so those they will leave behind one day can understand them and I thank them for making me think about that people doing this have to have an answer.

In Cuba there are currently more than 600 inmates with HIV / AIDS including women and men with the main route of infection being self-injection. A route of infection that has been repeatedly denounced because of the complicity and epidemiological responsibility on the part of the Prison Health system and the Island’s health system.  For those who thought these things would never be known, because they thought these people did not deserve to be heard. Here are the first letters from the Prison of San Jose come to us and I assure you that letters will be read and answered.

[Note: Letters will follow in subsequent posts.]

January 23 2012