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Cuban Prisoner Of Conscience, Juan Carlos Herrera Acosta, Fights For His Life
By Juan Carlos Herrera Acosta

Personal testimony

November 16, 2007


APLO Press / www.PayoLibre.com


Kilo 8 Prison

Camagüey, Cuba


“I’m letting it be known that my state of health is failing at an extremely dangerous pace. My physical well-being remains under the Sword of Damocles, and I could die. My days are slowly coming to an end because of the various dangerous illnesses from which I suffer: high blood pressure, a right bundle branch block in my heart, hypertensive retinopathy, a heart murmur, a pyloric-duodenal prolapse, chronic dermatitis, asthma, cervical arthritis, lumbo-sacral arthralgia, vitiligo, kidney and liver disorders, and an obvious immunological deficiency. I’m extremely underweight, which is quite worrisome.


Faced with this dangerous picture, prison authorities have demonstrated a policy of disinterest and indifference until last October 23rd when I sewed my mouth shut as a fair complaint against the violation of my rights and the awful living conditions under which I am kept as if I were a wild animal while the prison officials’ dogs live under exceptional conditions.

I held firm for 8 days without eating and taking in very little water, which made the state and prison police take note. On November 2nd, I was moved to the Department of Medical Services of MININT during the night. This step was in vain because the favorable conditions did not exist to do tests on me. They were postponed until the next day around noon when I was submitted to an endoscopy and a biopsy in the area of the esophagus, stomach, and intestine. The exams showed a large inflammation around there, giardiasis and a hiatal hernia, as well as bacteria that, from what became clear and from the silence shown, are a malignant kind. (H. Pylori)

The situation turned out to be much more threatening to my life that expected. I don’t harbor a single hope of getting out of this monstrous place alive. Clearly my days are numbered, and, as usual, the Cuban regime will not let me meet with those whom I love before I die—it’s a policy of vengeance and settling of scores. Since I don’t reject the possibility of a clinically induced death, neither do I reject the possibility of being the next Miguel Valdés Tamayo. Yet, in spite of this dangerous outlook, I’m letting my brothers know that I’ll continue giving as much as I can. I will continue my firm stance in defense of human rights with my campaign of accusations towards murders and cruel, inhumane, and degrading treatments.


Life is of little importance when firm and true ideas exist to defend. Eleven million Cubans suffer the vengeful shots of a tyranny in order to defend the right to a free, inclusive, pluralistic, and respectful country for everyone, one like the most highly regarded of all Cubans, José Martí, dreamed of. Until the last moment of my life, I will continue to stick to my patriotic ideals. When I die, one more political assassination will fall upon the back of this tyranny.


I will not ask for pity from those who torture me physically and psychologically. I proclaim my critical situation to the international community, and may it, along with my fellow Cubans in exile, accuse the regime in Havana. I will not be the first or the last to lose my life in Castro’s dungeons. There have been others throughout these fifty years of harsh dictatorship who have tried to restore a civil society. Cubans have the right to freedom, to a plurality of criteria, to free and transparent elections. Cuba deserves to occupy the empty seat that is waiting for her among the elite number of democratic nations.


Let all Cubans in exile and those that determinedly and peacefully struggle in the streets know that I will not give up. As a dignified follower of the ideas of Varela, Martí, Gandhi, and Martin Luther King, I will not bow down, nor will my knees give way. I will continue from this dark place in support of this noble and just cause.


I cannot deny that it’s been a hard blow for me to know that I’m dying. I would love to contribute more so that a bright and promising future could add luster to our currently tarnished country from a entelechy, a breed of gangsters and mafia. I’m not afraid to face death. I’m not afraid for them to kill me. Whatever happens will happen; all will unfold as it’s supposed to be. I ask my brothers in the struggle not to become discouraged, to continue forward. From Castro’s gulag, I extend my message of hope.


I have begun a new battle, this time for my life. A young Canadian named Terry Fox, knowing that cancer was eating up his whole body and with an amputated leg, ran thousands of kilometers before dying, and he never lost heart in his efforts. For me, it would be a very high honor to be added to the list of Castro’s victims. They will not succeed in extracting a cry of pity. I believe I can give even more and provide much more for our children and this country so that all can live in complete freedom.


I am very physically weak, but I’m strong spiritually.  I know nothing is in vain, and I reiterate that my situation has become much more critical. I face this harsh reality. Nothing will dishearten me. Since November 3rd when I found out just how critical my health was, I have received a show of solidarity on the part of many prisoners that strengthens me.


To my brothers of the honorable political prisoners group, Pedro Luis Boitel, and especially to that tireless fighter, Jorge Luis García Pérez, “Antúnez,” I want you to know that Juan Carlos Herrera Acosta will stand up and face the terror until his last day. My weakened and critical state of health is one more example of the cruel and inhumane Cuban prison system. The world should not support the pain that those behind bars suffer for defending the right to life, to total liberty. This is the price one pays under the auspices of Castro and to which I aspire with stoicism and as a worthy son of this country.


*Juan Carlos Herrera Acosta, 41, was sentenced to 20 years in jail in March, 2003.  He is a prisoner of conscience of the Group of 75. He is an independent journalist, a member of the Cuban Council of Rapporteurs of Human Rights and the national coordinator of the Youth for Democracy Movement. His address is Calle 3 Oeste #1105 e/ Pintó y Varonal, Guantánamo, Cuba.


This testimony was given from Kilo 8 Prison on November 7, 2007.


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Translation: The Coalition of Cuban-American Women (www.coalitionofcubanamericanwomen.blogspot.com) /

Tanya S. Wilder / Email: tswilder@suddenlink.net

Original article in Spanish: http://www.payolibre.com/articulos/imprimir.php?id=1060


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