Ovidio Martin: Those Were Terrible Months

The UNPACU activist, Ovidio Martín Castellanos with his family. (Courtesy)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 23 April 2018 —  Ovidio Martín Castellanos, one of the national coordinators of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU), was released this Friday after spending eight months in prison. The activist was accused of the crime of assault, but never came before a court, he says in conversation with 14ymedio.

“Two agents of the political police and an investigator arrived at the prison in Mar Verde where I was detained and they did not explain much before releasing me, only that they were going to convert the measure of preventive detention for one of immediate freedom and that was it,” he recounts.

Without any formal paperwork being filed, Martín Castellanos was detained in the maximum security prison in Santiago de Cuba, from where he continued to report human rights violations, in this case against the inmates, efforts that earned him reprisals from the prison authorities.

Last March, his wife the activist Zenaida Rams held a public protest at Parque Céspedes, in the city of Santiago de Cuba, denouncing the arbitrary arrest of her husband and demanding his immediate release. State Security then threatened to “worsen” the conditions under which Martin Castellanos was being held in prison.

The opponent was arrested on August 19, while participating along with other members of UNPACU and their families in a recreational activity at the San Luis camping site, near the Ullao river.

The police appeared on the scene and arrested dozens, including Martín Castellanos, who was beaten and accused of assault, according to what several witnesses told this newspaper. His family did not even hire a defense lawyer, since the legal process against him was never started.

During his stay in prison, the 51-year-old dissident refused to enter the so-called re-education program and was taken to a punishment cell on several occasions for his attitude.

“In the prison many needs were not met, there was a lack of medical attention, without minimum conditions, little food, bad and poorly prepared, and often they served rotten food,” he says.

“After eight months in jail for an injustice I remain firm,” he concludes.

UNPACU is the opposition organization with the largest number of political prisoners in Cuba, with almost fifty incarcerated, most of them for alleged crimes such as contempt of authority, assault or the crime of “pre-criminal dangerousness.”


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