Urgent Action

Amnesty International USA’s Medical Action

To: Health Professionals
From: Medical Office/ Americas Program
Date: 26 April 2001

Medical Letter Writing Action MA 6/01
Insufficient medical care for Luis Garcia Pérez [Antúnez] Cuba

[update to medical actions issued 12 October 1999; 15 April 1999; 18 May 1998; and 28 May 1997].

Amnesty International is concerned for the health of Jorge Luis Garcia Pérez [also called Antúnez], held in Nieves Morejón prison in Santi Spíritus Province. Jorge Luis Garcia Pérez was reportedly transferred to Camilo Cienfuegos Hospital in Santi Spíritus in February 2001 where, according to reports, it was discovered that he had a mass in his lung. In addition, he is said to be suffering from kidney problems, severe weight loss, frequent fainting, vomiting, and coughing up blood. Since his hospital visit in February 2001, he has apparently not received any treatment.

Jorge Luis Garcia Pérez has been on several hunger strikes during his imprisonment, most recently since 1 April 2001 in protest that he has not been given appropriate medical care. Since he began the hunger strike, he has apparently become so weak that he can hardly speak. Amnesty International is calling for all necessary medical care for Jorge Luis Garcia Pérez, particularly in view of the reported recent medical report and current hunger strike.

Jorge Luis Garcia Pérez, aged 36, was sentenced on charges of “enemy propaganda,” “attempted sabotage,” illegal possession of a weapon, and attempted escape. He has been imprisoned since 15 March 2001. His total combined sentence is 18 years’ imprisonment.

In many cases, political prisoners in Cuba do not appear to be receiving the medical attention they require. In some cases medical attention may even be deliberately withheld as a punitive measure.

Background Information

Amnesty International has repeatedly called for Jorge Luis Garcia Pérez to be provided with medical care on previous occasions when he had fallen ill, but it has not received any response from the Cuban authorities regarding the state of his health or any details of medical care that has been made available to him. In many cases, political prisoners in Cuba do not appear to be receiving the medical attention they require. In some cases medical attention may even be deliberately withheld as a punitive measure. Amnesty International believes that such conditions may amount to cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment or punishment.

The organization acknowledges the economic pressures and severe shortages that are being experienced by the Cuban population as a whole, but believes the Cuban Government has a particular obligation to meet at least the basic needs of the country’s prison inmates as they are especially vulnerable, by virtue of their dependence on the authorities. With the exception of some religious groups with limited access to prisoners, there are no independent organizations within Cuba to which prisoners can appeal for assistance in pursuing their claims as to their health needs. Virtually the only recourse for prisoners who feel their complaints are not treated seriously is to try to smuggle information concerning their medical conditions out of prison in the hope that it will reach international human rights bodies or the foreign media.

Recommended actions

Please write letters:
- introducing yourself as a member of Amnesty International’s health professional network and referring to your earlier letters if appropriate;
-expressing disappointment that as yet the Cuban authorities have not responded to the concerns raised by Amnesty International in appeals on behalf of Jorge Luis Garcia Pérez;
-seeking information on his current state of health and asking for details of what medical treatment he is receiving;
-urging that Jorge Luis Garcia receive all necessary medical care in accordance with provisions set out in international human rights standards, including being transferred to hospital if his condition requires medical treatment that he cannot get inside the prison.

Addresses

Head of State and Government:
Dr Fidel Castro Ruz
Presidente de los Consejos de Estados y de Ministros
La Habana, Cuba
Fax: via Ministry of Foreign Affairs: 011 53 7 333 085 / 335 261
Salutation: Su Excelencia/ Your Excellency

Attorney-General:
DR Juan Escalona Reguera
Fiscal General de la Repdblica,
FiscalRa General de la Repdblica
San Rafael 3, La Habana, Cuba
Telegrams: Fiscal General,
Havana, Cuba
Fax: 011 53 7 570795 / 53 7 669 485
Salutation: Sr Fiscal General/ Dear Attorney General

Minister of Foreign Affairs
Sr Felipe Pérez Roque
Ministro de Relaciones Exteriores,
Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores
Calzada No. 360
Vedado, La Habana, Cuba
Telegrams: Ministro Relaciones Exteriores,
Havana, Cuba
Fax: 011 53 7 333 085 / 335 261 / 333 460
Salutation: Señor Ministro/ Dear Minister

Interior Secretary
General Abelardo Colomé Ibarra
Ministerio del Interior y Prisones
Ministerio del Interior
Plaza de la Revolucion
La Habana, Cuba
Fax: 011 53 7 33 5261 / 301566
Salutation: Señor Director

Please also send copies of your letters to diplomatic representatives of Cuba in the United States:
Cuba Interests Section
2630 16th Street NW
Washington, DC 20009

Please send appeals immediately and not after June 30, 2001. Send us a copy of any responses you may receive from Cuban officials.

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