Havana. July 29, 2010 Protest at Gerardo’s confinement in the hole • Once again in the hole despite known health problem • More than three months without medical attention

Lino Lubén Pérez

RICARDO Alarcón, president of the National Assembly of People’s Power, has condemned the new solitary confinement punishment of Gerardo Hernández Nordelo, one of the five anti-terrorist Cubans unjustly imprisoned in the United States.

Hernández was again placed in the hole on July 21 and efforts by the Cuban government to contact prison authorities and the State Department in order to clarify the situation have been unsuccessful, Alarcón informed the press at Havana’s International Conference Center.

He described Gerardo’s situation as serious due to the small size of the cell, one by two meters, which he is sharing with another prisoner, and which has hardly any ventilation because air can only enter through a small hole in the upper part of the wall.

The U.S. government knows that Gerardo has some physical health problems, and that he has being asking for a medical examination since this past April. He was finally given a medical appointment for July 20, during which problems requiring treatment were diagnosed.

Apparently it is a problem caused by bacteria which, according to the doctor, is circulating among the prison population, and has led to some serious cases. “We do not know if this is the case with Gerardo, because they have not done the tests, and in any event he was put in the hole the day after the medical exam.”
Alarcón added that he also has blood pressure fluctuations, understandable because—while he has just turned 45—he has spent 12 years confined in harsh conditions, but despite this has retained his firm commitment.

“We are concerned about his poor health—and most of all medical treatment for him—made difficult with the hole, because the prison temperature rises to over 35 degrees Celsius,” he noted.

“This is a very serious situation that we are exposing. We are following events closely and hopefully, they will be resolved today even, or tomorrow. We are making approaches through every channel and are in contact with his lawyers, but if there is no clarification, the National Assembly has to make a statement,” he noted.

“Since we heard about the situation extra-officially, we have been asking for clarification from the U.S. authorities, but have not received any clarification as to what happened, or why he is being punished,” Alarcón stated.

Recently, his sister Isabel saw him and confirmed his harsh prison conditions, Alarcón added, because he was brought to the visit handcuffed and with chains on his feet, and they spoke by telephone through a thick glass partition, a condition imposed on prisoners who have been sanctioned,.

“We have no explanation and it caught our attention that Gerardo was summoned by various officials from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), who came to the prison and played a part in him being placed in the hole. Evidently this is not an action purely on the part of the prison,” he emphasized.

“It is strange that this is the third time in this unjust incarceration of our five heroes that Gerardo has been put in the hole, just as his case is being prepared for appeal,” the president of the Cuban Parliament pointed out.

“He should be working with his attorneys in drafting the basis for his habeas corpus and the U.S. government knows that.

At this point, Gerardo cannot have any contact with his attorneys, or access to correspondence. He cannot even speak on the telephone. He is completely isolated and – on top of that – in a state of his health that could endanger his ability to function, for which the U.S. government is entirely responsible.

Alarcón gave his statements to the accredited press at the 5th Ordinary Session of the National Assembly of People‘s Power, whose 12 Commissions are continuing their sessions today. (AIN)

Translated by Granma International


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