Several Cuban opposition activists are calling on the international community as well as their fellow compatriots to denounce the situation of political prisoner Ivan Fernandez Depestre, who has been on hunger strike for more than 27 days and whose health has drastically worsened, placing him in a state very “near death”, according to a press release by the Cuban Democratic Directorate.
Fernandez Depestre was abruptly and violently jailed on July 30th after he participated in a peaceful demonstration in honor of Frank Pais, a Cuban martyr who stood up against totalitarianism on the island many years ago. Two days later, on August 2nd, Fernandez was sentenced to 3 years of prison under the Law of Social Pre-Dangerousness which orders time behind bars for citizens who look “dangerous” of committing “crimes” in the future. The activist has been on hunger strike since.
Jorge Luis Garcia Perez ‘Antunez’, leader of the Orlando Zapata Tamayo National Civic Resistance Front, a coalition which Ivan is part of, has been frequently denouncing the situation and taking to his Twitter account to let the world know what is going on. In an audio published on his YouTube channel, Antunez expressed that Ivan is “agonizing in a protest that has lasted longer than 20 days” and that his health is “very critical”.
Antunez, who is currently in the city of Miami as part of an international tour to denounce the Cuban reality, has been in contact with dissidents on the island who have carried out several protests demanding the release of Fernandez and called on the international community and all human rights organizations to end their silence in regards to this case.
On August 26th, it was confirmed that Ivan was in the hospital of the penitentiary known as Guamajal, but on morning hours of the 27th, he was transferred back to El Pre Prison, in the city of Santa Clara, Villa Clara. Activists have expressed worry that his life may end there due to the fact that he has been submitted to constant aggressions and very poor medical assistance.
On Friday, August 23rd, Damaris Moya, president of the Central Opposition Coalition, called on dissidents across the island to carry out protests in favor of Ivan’s freedom. A number of activities were documented, but so too was a brutal and repressive response on behalf of Cuba’s political police. Dissidents were beat, arrested, and deported, while many homes were raided and surrounded with police officials.
Antunez tweeted (@antunezcuba) this Tuesday that opposition members have not rested in their demands, saying that protests have taken place in municipalities and cities such as “Placetas, Santa Clara, Sagua la Grande, Holguin, Havana, etc”.
Ivan Fernandez Depestre is on hunger strike to demand his immediate release.