Luis Enrique Ferrer and José Daniel Ferrer García by knockjob54

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									                      Cuban prisoner of conscience




Dr. García Paneque is a medical doctor and independent journalist from the
eastern province of Las Tunas, Cuba, who was arrested in March 2003 as part of
a major crackdown on peaceful dissent in Cuba. He is serving a 24-year
sentence for his legitimate, non-violent activities.

Dr Garcia is recognised as a prisoner of conscience by Amnesty International,
Reporters without Borders and Human Watch First

Dr. García Paneque’s health has been perilous for over three years. He suffers
from chronic diarrhea and poor intestinal absorption, resulting in chronic
malnutrition. His weight has dropped by nearly half since his incarceration—
from 190 lbs to an emaciated 110 lbs. He has not received proper medical
treatment and has not been allowed to consult with independent medical
professionals.

Background (from Human Rights First)

Dr. José Luis García Paneque was arrested on March 18, 2003, part of a group of 75
journalists, librarians, and non-violent activists detained in a crackdown on dissidents
by the Cuban government. Dr. García Paneque is a member of the Manuel Marquez
Sterling Journalists’ Association, an independent professional association which the
government refuses to recognize, and is the administrator of the Carlos J. Finlay
independent library in his hometown of Las Tunas. He founded an independent
medical association—also unrecognized—and took part in the Varela Project, a
grassroots campaign to gather signatures in support of democratic and human rights
reforms. A surgeon by training, Dr. García Paneque was dismissed from the Ernesto
“Che” Guevara hospital in Las Tunas for his criticism of government policies.

Dr. García Paneque was sentenced to 24 years in prison on April 4, 2003. He was
initially held in solitary confinement in the provincial prison of Santa Clara, over 100
km from his home in Las Tunas, during which time he developed claustrophobia and
began showing signs of weight loss. He was then transferred through several prisons
in Holguín and as far away as “Combinado del Este” prison in Havana. After his
transfer to “Las Mangas” prison in the eastern city of Bayamo in late 2005, his health


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began to rapidly deteriorate. In addition to developing digestive problems from the
poor prison food and lack of movement and sunlight, Dr. García Paneque was also
harassed by the common criminals in the prison. He even received a death threat,
though prison authorities claimed to Dr. García Paneque’s wife, Yamilé Llanes
Labrada, that they were unaware of such threats and took no action to ensure his
safety. Yamilé Llanes Labrada is an active member of the Ladies in White, a group of
the wives and relatives of imprisoned peaceful activists that advocates for humane
prison conditions and the release of their loved ones that was awarded Human Rights
First’s 2006 Human Rights Award. She has stated that Dr. García Paneque cannot
digest lactose and gluten, and that such dietary restrictions are not accommodated by
the prison diet. “The things he can eat are very limited,” she says. Despite the
family’s best efforts to meet his nutritional needs—a costly endeavor in Cuba, where
many Cubans earn less than $10 a month and basic food staples are scarce—he is
extremely malnourished and Yamilé fears that he may never recover. To date, the
family’s requests for his release on medical parole have gone unanswered.

Members of Dr. García Paneque’s family, including his four young children, have
been repeatedly harassed at home and at school, culminating in their fleeing the island
in March 2007. “I didn’t want to leave,” wife Yamilé Llanes Labrada says, “but my
husband said that he was completing his part and I had to complete mine, which was
to save the family.” From the moment Dr. García Paneque was taken prisoner,
weekly actos de repudio, or “acts of repudiation,” took place outside of their house.
On August 6, 2006, mobs of citizens surrounded the house, threatening to burn it
down and hurling insults like “terrorist” and “gusano” (meaning “worm” in English,
gusano has become a politically-charged term in Cuba and is used to insult those
Cubans who have left the island). Yamilé feared for the lives of her children.

The children have also suffered from harassment. The oldest daughter was “advised”
to join the national Communist youth group, the Union of Young Communists (UJC).
 She refused, and was not allowed to study information technology, despite having
high marks at school. The youngest children refuse to believe that their father is in
prison; they have had to see a psychologist because they are so traumatized. Dr.
García Paneque has rarely been allowed to see his family, and since the departure of
his wife and children he has only been allowed to call them once, despite promises
from prison authorities that he would be granted monthly calls.

What can you do?

   1. Write a Christmas card or letter of encouragement to De
      Garcia
   2. and/or write a letter to the Cuban authorities

Christmas card or Letter to Dr Garcia

Dr. Jose Luis Garcia Paneque
Prision Provincial Las Mangas (Hombres)
Mayor Rigor
Bayamo
Cuba


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Letter to Attorney General of Cuba

Dr. Juan Escalona Reguera
Fiscal General de la República
Fiscalía General de la República
San Rafael 3
La Habana, Cuba

Dear Attorney General,

I am writing to express my deep concern about the continued detention of
Dr. José Luis García Paneque, an independent journalist and physician
imprisoned in March 2003, whose health has seriously deteriorated since
he was arrested. Dr. García Paneque has been held in “Las Mangas”
prison in Bayamo since November 2005.

Dr Garcia was taken in June 2007 with pneumonia and severe abdominal
pains to a hospital in Bayamo where doctors reportedly found a kidney
tumor. His weight has fallen from 86 to 50 kilos because of an intestinal
ailment. Dr. García Paneque was also physically attacked on 28 August
2007 by a prisoner. I understand that it has been a common practice of the
Cuban prison authorities to confine political prisoners together with
violent common criminals as a method of physical and mental torture.

I urge the Cuban government to immediately and unconditionally release
Dr. Jose Luis Garcia Paneque, as well as all others held for their
nonviolent promotion of human rights and democracy and the peaceful
expression of their beliefs.

Again, until Dr Garcia, who has been adopted by Amnesty International,
Reporters without Borders and Human Rights First as a nonviolent
prisoner of conscience, are released, please assure me that they are being
provided all necessary medical care. I look forward to your response.

Sincerely,
[YOUR SIGNATURE AND TITLE]




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