Several Cuban Political Prisoners Are in ‘Serious Danger’

The international community is called upon to raise its voice against the regime’s abuses

Activists Carlos Michael Morales, José Daniel Ferrer García and Fray Pascual Claro Valladares/ Collage

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, July 4, 2024 — After 14 days on a hunger strike, the life of independent journalist Carlos Michael Morales, admitted to the medical unit of the Guamajal prison, in Santa Clara, is in “serious danger,” the organization Cuba Decide denounced on Tuesday.

The activist, who has already been in prison for two years and 10 months for demonstrating in Caibarién, Villa Clara, during the massive protests of 11 July 2021 (’11J’), and who was released in March of this year, was arrested again on May 4 and has been imprisoned for two months without a trial date. In that period he has gone on two hunger strikes, and the latest one has been the most severe.

After several incidents of police harassment, Morales was arrested during a summons in the Criminal Investigation Unit of Caibarién. He immediately began his first hunger strike, which he suspended on May 22, pending the response to a habeas corpus presented by his lawyer.

Morales was arrested during a summons in the Criminal Investigation Unit of Caibarién. He immediately began his first hunger strike

In a letter that Morales sent after that first strike, he said that, after a strong pain in his chest, he was denied medical assistance and, instead, was beaten by the unit’s commander. The event caused his transfer to the hospital in critical condition.

Almost a month later, after he was denied habeas corpus, the independent journalist resumed his hunger strike on June 19.

Given the seriousness of the situation, the Complaint Center of Cuba Decide reported that it submitted a request for an urgent appeal to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), and also urged the international community to denounce human rights violations against Morales and other activists on the Island.

In addition, this Wednesday the IACHR issued precautionary measures in favor of political prisoner Fray Pascual Claro Valladares, sentenced to 10 years in prison for the crime of sedition, after participating in the demonstrations in the city of Nuevitas, Camagüey, in August 2022, and after using social networks to denounce police violence.

The Cuban Observatory of Human Rights (OCDH), which requested the measures from the commission, was notified that the IACHR warned – through a resolution – that Claro Valladares “is in a serious and urgent situation, since his rights to life, personal integrity and health face a risk of irreparable damage.”

Political prisoner Fray Pascual Claro Valladares was sentenced to 10 years in prison for the crime of sedition

In its report, the inter-American petition said that the 22-year-old has been subjected to severe conditions of isolation, intimidation and physical aggression, including a beating in February 2023. In addition, it accused prison officials of threatening him by taking away his medical care, family visits, phonef calls and shipments of medicine and food, if he and his mother continue to report his case.

Last April, Claro Valladares tried to commit suicide after hearing his sentence. After a brief medical evaluation, he was returned to the penitentiary. So far, the IACHR said that the young man had not received psychiatric care, despite the fact that it was not the first time he tried to hurt himself.

In its resolution, the IACHR called on the Government of Cuba to protect the rights to life, personal integrity and health of Claro Valladares; that his conditions of detention be in line with the applicable international standards; that they guarantee he will not receive threats, intimidation, harassment or violence, and that he will receive medical diagnoses and treatment.

Finally, another political prisoner who lives in degrading conditions is José Daniel Ferrer García, leader of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU). Arrested within the framework of the 11J protests, “he has been without the right to phone calls or family and marital visits for almost a year and four months. All this time (he has been) confined in a punishment cell, isolated not only from his family but also from the entire penal community under inhuman, cruel and degrading conditions,” said his wife, Nelva Ortega Tamayo, in an audio sent to the media, organizations and activists.

José Daniel Ferrer is in prison for the third time for political reasons. He was part of the group of prisoners of the Black Spring

In the recording, he explained that he presented himself last Monday at the Mar Verde prison, in Santiago de Cuba, for the regulated visit of Ferrer García, and that they were only allowed to deliver food, toiletries and some medicines. Last May, Ortega Tamayo pointed out that in more than two years Ferrer García has only been entitled to 12 family visits and nine marital visits.

José Daniel Ferrer is in prison for the third time for political reasons. He was part of the group of Black Spring prisoners, with a death sentence commuted to 25 years in prison and released after eight years thanks to the efforts of the Vatican and the mediation of Spain, but he refused to go into exile like many of the other released.

In 2019, he was arrested on October 1 and sentenced to prison in February 2020, after a closed-door trial for an alleged crime of injuring another man, a charge that his relatives and collaborators deny. After six months in prison, and in the midst of strong international pressure, his sentence was changed for a sanction of four and a half years of house arrest.

However, more than a year later, Ferrer was arrested and imprisoned during ’11J’  when he barely left his house to join the mobilizations. In August of that year, a judge revoked his house arrest and ordered his re-entry to prison to serve four years and 14 days remaining from the 2020 sentence.

Translated by Regina Anavy


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