A LADY IN WHITE AND HER FAMILY
Written by: Ana B. Aguililla Saladrigas
January 30, 2006
Havana, Cuba -www.PayoLibre.com - Toward the end of last year and since the beginning of 2006, Cuban authorities have taken new repressive measures against our husbands, who are prisoners of conscience in Cuba, and their families.
My husband, Francisco Chaviano González, a prisoner of conscience in Cuba who has had to serve many years in prison, and I are no exception.
On December 28 during one of our scheduled visits, he told me that he was being severely mistreated and that he was not allowed to have the necessary food and rations that we bring to him. Consequently, I had to react strongly and go through procedures with the prison authorities until they allowed me to bring him his provisions at the end of the visit.
During the first days of this year, the State Security official that attends to my husband’s case, a man known as “Jorge,” told him that his application for minimum security prison status was not approved by the General Directors of Jails and Prisons, where his cased was being considered. This is also something that indicated a step backward concerning Chaviano’s case since this same official had told us at the end of November that my husband’s application had already been approved.
I have heard of prisoners of conscience whose family members have been treated severely during inspections and of others who have had the time between their visits increased. According to our experience, these measures have been taken because of the activities that the Ladies in White (las Damas de Blanco) have recently carried out and because of the acclaim they have received. But, for my husband Francisco Chaviano and for our family, these measures have been taken many times before.
For us, problems began in 1991. In December of that year, State Police ordered my husband to leave the country with the threat that if he did not leave, he would be sentenced to 15 years in jail, and they added “…we have a very sharp mind and many things can occur to us…” They carried out their word - posters on the walls against members of our family, broken windows, a cut-off of our electricity during the early morning hours, and acts of repudiation, among other things. Our two older children had to leave the country. Three months later, they incarcerated my husband and gave him the 15 years they promised, taking advantage of the fact that two officials of Department 21 of Counter-intelligence made a Secret Revelations to him about the nature of the aggressions of which we were being victims.
From 1999 until 2003, we were not permitted to visit my husband in prison, and he was taken to punishment cells on several occasions where he was physically mistreated.
Toward the end of 2003, a change of policy came about for us. It was communicated to us that they would set my husband free, and we thought that our ordeal would end. Around the middle of 2004, authorities released the principal official of Department 21 of State Security who had revealed the secrets (the other was freed in 1998); they were the only ones responsible and deserving to be imprisoned since Chaviano did not work for the State and acted in his own defense.
Instead of freeing my husband, everything became a sadistic joke. They beat him up and sent him to a punishment cell, and that was it.
So many years of mistreatment and enclosure without exposure to the sun as frequently as he needs it have produced a lesion on his lung that, according to doctors, requires a delicate operation. Nevertheless, his illness does not seem to matter to the government. They will not free him in spite of the fact that his sentence ended four years ago.
My husband, Franciso Chaviano González, has been in prison for 12 years, making him the longest imprisoned human rights activist in the Americas and making me a senior member of the Ladies in White.
In the last few years, as soon as authorities announce his upcoming release from jail, they have begun a sordid game. To mess around with my husband, they promise him over and over again that he will be freed, next month or the one after that, and then nothing. They admit him to the hospital and dismiss him without completing examinations or giving him adequate treatment. We have also seen it necessary to send our young daughter who remained with us out of the country.
I make a plea to human conscience to join us in asking our government to respect the pain and suffering caused by the imprisonment of our loved ones, allowing at least a normal life for our families, including an adequate system of visits and treatment during them.
In addition, I add to this the demand that my husband be released according to what is stipulated in Cuban laws before his condition further worsens.
CUBAN CAMPAIGN FOR THE FREEDOM OF POLITICAL PRISONERS
“Remember the prisoners as if you were one of them.”
Hebrews 13: 3
Translation: Tanya S. Wilder / Human Rights Committee / Coalition of Cuban-American Women / Email: [email protected]