URGENT LETTER FROM WIFE OF CUBAN PRISONER OF CONSCIENCE
“...my husband is enduring horrible conditions. Nelson Aguiar Ramírez is buried alive, evidence that they (Cuban authorities) want to eliminate him.”
Havana, Cuba. July 3, 2008
To:His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI
Presidents and Heads of Democratic States
United Nations Secretary General
Human Rights Organizations and Institutions
International Red Cross
National and International Public Opinion
I, Dolia Leal Francisco, 63 years old and a co-founder of the Damas de Blanco (Ladies in White); wife of NELSON AGUIAR RAMÍREZ, a prisoner of conscience of the “Group of the 75” since March of 2003, make an URGENT APPEAL on behalf of my husband who’s life is presently in grave danger.
Yesterday, my husband informed me during a prison visit that on the first day of the present month of July he was unexpectedly transferred from the small hospital of the Combinado del Este Prison in Havana, to a prison barrack that holds 184 common prisoners. Inside this barrack he is locked up in a small humid cell that has its floors continuously inundated with water due to the extensive leaks throughout the walls. This situation is worsening the asthma my husband suffers.
This prison cell is a sort of sealed box that only has limited ventilation coming through the barred door. It lacks a toilet and Nelson is supposed to go to the bathroom in a hole on the floor but, because he is unable to squat, he must go in a wooden box. In one word: my husband is enduring horrible conditions. Nelson Aguiar Ramírez is buried alive, evidence that they (Cuban authorities) want to eliminate him.
My husband’s three year stay at the hospital of the Combinado del Este Prison was due to the critical state of health he is in: both operations of a hiatal hernia have been unsuccessful surgeries as a consequence of his weak muscle tissues that, according to the doctors, do not permit a third operation. An internal portion of the incision has not closed and is only protected by a small gauze dressing. For the rest of his life, Nelson will be unable to lift any weight, bend over from the waist, or squat, etc.
During my entire two hour prison visit Nelson was congested, had trouble breathing, was coughing very hard, and was constantly using the asthma inhaler. As he coughed he had to hold on to his abdomen since he is afraid that the organs in his abdominal cavity might protrude as it has happened before. Even though he takes the proper precautions, my husband has constant pain in the mentioned abdominal area where the surgery remains open.
Besides this very serious condition, the following pathologies (among others) are noted in his medical record:
· Advanced Degenerative Arthropathy
· Herniated Disks: L3, L4 and L4, L5
· Chronic Hypertension
· Profound Venous Insufficiency
· Stage 1 Prostatic Hyperplasia with Calcification
· Fatty Liver
Because of the arthropathy, Nelson frequently loses his balance and suffers from vertigo. As a result, he fractured his left arm and dislocated his shoulder. He suffers from severe pain from two herniated discs that incapacitate his movements at times, reason he fears he will become paralyzed. (This is all the result of spending 18 months isolated in a very small and humid punishment cell without being able to walk or go outside in the sunlight.)
It is beyond my understanding the reason for all this horror, as well as for the punishment and brutal treatment towards Nelson who is so helpless and sick. It all appears to be in retaliation for my open activism: on April 21, 2008, I participated in an act of protest staged by ten Ladies in White at Revolution Square to demand the freedom of all Cuban political prisoners.
I must point out that after his second operation, the Medical Commission determined that Nelson was not physically fit to withstand the prison regime. The political police that controls my husband’s case has ignored this medical report and has confiscated his medical record. To keep NELSON AGUIAR RAMÍREZ incarcerated is to condemn him to a slow death in prison where there is no hope for him.
That is why I ask your help to save my husband’s life. Please petition the Cuban government to grant Nelson a temporary permission to be released from prison for health reasons (Licencia Extrapenal).
Dolia Leal Francisco
Lady in White
2005 Sajarov Prize by the European Parliament
Calle 28 N° 157, Apto. 15, entre 17 y 19,
Vedado, municipio de Plaza, Ciudad Habana, Cuba
Letter sent by Dolia Leal from Havana, Cuba to the Coalition of Cuban-American Women in the USA (Joseito76@aol.com) . Translation to English by the Coalition of Cuban-American Women.