The eastern Cuban dissident and national executive of the Orlando Zapata Tamayo National Civic Resistance and Civil Disobedience Front, Rolando Rodriguez Lobaina, has made some declarations in regards to the worrying case of the political prisoner Andy Frometa Cuenca who declared himself on hunger strike since April 15th in the Combinado Prison of Guantanamo to demand his freedom and the freedom of all those unjustly jailed prisoners who have been sent to prison alongside him for opposing the Cuban government.
Frometa Cuenca is currently in a weak state of health under a severe regimen imposed on him by his jailers. Rolando Lobaina penned the following declaration in representation of the Orlando Zapata Tamayo Civic Resistance Front, which includes quotes from Andy himself.
Declaration from the Orlando Zapata Tamayo National Civil Resistance and Disobedience Front:
As it has been reported through various alternative media outlets, the political prisoner Andy Frometa Cuenca has been on hunger strike since April 15th, under the special regimen of the Combinado Prison of Guantanamo.
In the recent letter we received from Frometa Cuenca, he writes, “The guard which runs this prison came to see us on October 13th of 2008. Due to my unbendable position in favor of human rights, I have been victim of an incessant amount of torture and violations of all my individual human rights. I’ve been behind the bars since 1992, when I was barely 16 years old, after I tried to leave the country. Ever since October 14th 1998, I have been subjected to arbitrary punishment under orders of the Cuban political police, which are bent on keeping me confined in inhumane punishment cells in order to damage my physical and mental health. The military prison authorities do not cease in their pursuit to further worsen my health because it is very bothersome for them to know that there are still fearless Cubans willing to give their lives for the freedom of Cuba. And although for many it may be hard to believe, 9 years ago I was forced into arbitrary exile within my own country. Throughout these 19 years of imprisonment I have contracted multiple diseases and because they were not properly tended to by doctors I was declared incurable. The doctors have paid no attention whatsoever. The regime gets more pleasure knowing that human beings die in prison. Especially when it’s a dissident of the government. Because of this, I declare myself on hunger strike, demanding my immediate liberation, as well as the liberation of the rest of those who are jailed in the prisons of Cuba due to political reasons”.
The increase of Andy’s sentence is part of the extremist politics of the government against anyone who dissents from their policies. This is how they have provoked the abusive lack of control when it comes to the harsh treatment against prisoners on behalf of the uniformed officers which work in the penitentiaries. It’s crucial that we denounce the conditions of the regime, especially that of the Guantanamo prison, commonly known amongst prisoners as ‘White Shark’.
In his letter, Andy also narrates the following, “This area is divided into two sections, and each section is under the close watch of a security camera, even the salon for family visits. The cells of Section 1 are pitch dark even during the day’s brightest point because it has a double roof- one which is at a higher level, and then a wall which impedes the sun rays from coming through. This structure also keeps the air from circulating. In that section, there are 10 prisoners in individual cells, all of which are kept in the darkness under an extremely vigorous regime. They are also stripped from their rights to play sports and must sleep in concrete beds. The cells of Section 2, although they have a window which points at the Security check point, are still very hot as well and this is because there is also a sort of wall which impedes air from coming in. In addition, the roof is made out of cement and lacks central ventilation, thus causing them to heat up with the sun turning them into real frying pans. The illumination in the cells is very poor, so at night prisoners have no other option but to force their vision in order to read or write, leading in many instances to loss of vision. Prisoners are chained when they are allowed to go out and get sun or when they have a doctor’s checkup. Family visits are administered in a small room which is tightly controlled by surveillance. In these rooms, the prisoner is kept distant from the family and the guards listen to all the conversations. This is opprobrious. All letters must be handed in open so that the guards read over them, which is a violation of our privacy and implies a method of torture. The food is not good, nor is there any variety. Medical assistance is deficient in my case. Currently, in these torture centers there are more than 20 prisoners, 3 of which have life sentences and one who is a political prisoner. Of the 20, 12 are from Guantanamo, 5 form Holguin province, 1 from Ciego de Avila, and 2 from Havana province. All of them are subjected to subhuman conditions in solitary confinement. There are some prisoners who have spent more than 10 years in confinement, suffering serious physical and mental injuries”.
This is not the first time prisoners have to physically hurt themselves to demand their rights in the face of so much ineffectiveness on behalf of the soldiers and directors. The severe punishment imposed upon the young Andy Frometa Cuenca is the visible oppression of an obsolete political system which is beyond the control of those who prefer to defend life. It is the punishment exercised by those who prefer imposing stubbornness, obstinacy, and intolerance, represented by a totalitarian dictatorship which has lasted over half a century.
The Orlando Zapata National Civil Resistance and Disobedience Front condemns the Cuban regime for its application of cruel and degrading methods against the prisoners, as well as the specific excessive punishment applied to the political prisoner Andy Frometa Cuenca. The Cuban authorities are responsible for this youth’s suffering, and must free him now, as they must also free all others who are unjustly imprisoned because of their political stance within Cuban society.
The National Executive of the Front,
Guantanamo, May 7th 2011
(Rolando Rodriguez Lobaina)