Young Man in Coma Due to Medical Negligence in Cuban Prison / Juan Juan Almeida

Juan Juan Almeida, 22 January 2018 — A young employee of a Cuban company run by the military company, on remand in Havana, is in a coma due alleged medical malpractice and the irresponsibility of the prison authorities, his family reported.

Raidel Garcia Otero, 29, an economic technician, has been under arrest at Valle Grande Prison since 27 October. The young man suffers from a disease that causes inflammation in the vital organs .

On 15 January, his mother Delia Otero, and his father, an administrative employee of the pro-government newspaper Juventud Rebelde (Rebel Youth), were worried because they had not received his usual Monday  phone call. They called the prison and and were told that the boy was suffering from a cold.

On Saturday, Cuban photographer Pablo Pildain Rocha, a family friend, published the young man’s photo on his Facebook page, accompanied by a message in which he says he will report the case if the outcome is fatal.

Raidel Garcia Otero

Valle Grande prison is a part of the Ministry of the Interior’s Department of Penitentiary Establishments and is located in Arroyo Arenas, on the outskirts of Havana.

“On Tuesday, 16 January, one of Raidel’s classmates called the family and alerted them that the young man was sick and that he was not receiving adequate medical attention. His parents went to the prison but received no information and were not allowed to see him,” a source close to the family told Marti Noticias.

The source said that it was not until Friday of that week that the prison called the parents to tell them the young man had been admitted to Salvador Allende Hospital, formerly Quinta Covadonga, in Havana’s Cerro municipality.

According to the source, at 2:00 PM on Friday, 19  January, García Otero was transferred in critical condition from Valle Grande prison to Covadonga.

According to information obtained from the hospital, the patient must have been in critical condition for at least 4 or 5 days before his transfer, considering his condition when he arrived there.

This case from Valle Grande prison is not an isolated incident.

In March 2010, in the same prison, the death of prisoner Pedro Márquez Bell due to lack of adequate medical attention was reported. The testimony of then inmate Raúl García Ramos was also made public; Garcia Ramos, despite demanding specialized attention for acute liver cirrhosis and esophageal cancer, was always denied assistance.

Far from being solved, the demands and protests of the convicts only seem to aggravate their reality. It is unknown if García Otero’s parents will file a complaint, although there are enough factors to file complaints of a civil and criminal nature against the authorities and doctors of the penitentiary.