July 29, 2010

Leader Denounces Unexplained Punishment of Gerardo

HAVANA, Cuba, July 28 (acn) Cuban Parliament President Ricardo Alarcon denounced on Wednesday the confinement in a punishment cell (the hole) Gerardo Hernandez, one of the five Cuban antiterrorists unfairly imprisoned in the United States, has once more been subjected to.

Hernandez was thrown again into the hole on July 21, and Cuba's procedures to contact prison authorities and the State Department in order to clarify the situation have been unsuccessful, Alarcon told the press gathered at Havana's Convention Center. He described this reality as very serious, since Gerardo is in a very small cell, of two meters long by one meter wide, which he shares with another prisoner and where ventilation is limited, since they breathe through a small hole located at the top of a wall.

The US government knows that Gerardo suffers from some ailments, for which he had been asking for medical examination since April. He was finally seen by a physician on July 20 and diagnosed problems requiring treatment.

Apparently, the ailment is caused by a bacterium that, according to the physician, is circulating among inmates, some of whom have become seriously ill, and we're not sure if that's Gerardo's problem, since he hasn't had any test and was taken to the hole the day after the consultation, he pointed out.

He added that he also has problems with his blood pressure, something understandable because, in spite of being only 45 years old, he has been imprisoned under harsh conditions for almost 12 years now, in spite of which he has stood firm.

The other four are Antonio Guerrero, Fernando Gonzalez, Ramon Labañino and Rene Gonzalez, arrested on September, 1998, and given excessive sentences for monitoring the activities of counterrevolutionary groups planning criminal actions against the Cuban Revolution and its leaders.

We're concerned about his poor health –and above all the lack of specialized treatment-, all the worse for being in the hole, because temperature in his prison is over 35 degrees Celsius.

We denounce this very serious situation. We're following the events, said Alarcon, and let's hope they end right now or tomorrow. We're doing all we can and we have contacted his lawyers, but if there's no clarification on this problem, the National Assembly will have to issue a statement, he stressed.

Since we heard about this situation unofficially, we have been demanding the US authorities for a statement and we haven't had an enlightening answer on what happened or why he has been punished, he said.

Recently, his sister Isabel saw him and corroborated his situation, because he showed up on a visit bound in chains hand and foot and they spoke by telephone through a glass wall, a condition imposed on punished prisoners, recalled Alarcon.

We have no explanation whatsoever and it's obvious to us that Gerardo was summoned by various officers from the Federal Bureau of Investigations, who went to the prison and took part in his being thrown into the hole. Evidently is not an action carried out purely by the prison, he underlined.

The fact that this is the third time Gerardo is taken to the hole in moments of appealing procedures is curious, in this process of unfair imprisonment of our Five Heroes.

He should be working with his lawyers on the arguments for his habeas corpus, and the US government knows that, clarified the President of the Cuban Parliament.

At present, Gerardo is unable to have any contact with his lawyers, receive mail or speak by telephone. He's completely isolated and, on top of that, considering his health, his integrity is put at risk, something the US government is entirely responsible for, he underlined.

Alarcon made these statements to representatives of the national press accredited to the 5th ordinary period of sessions of the National Assembly of the People's Power (Parliament), the 12 working committees of which are meeting on Wednesday and Thursday.

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