A LADY IN WHITE AND HER FAMILY
Written by: Ana B. Aguililla Saladrigas
Tanya S. Wilder
Human Rights Committee
Coalition of Cuban-American Women
Celso Sarduy Agüero
Jefe de Buró
Dept. de Investigaciones
La Nueva Cuba
Enero 31, 2006
January 30, 2006
Havana, Cuba -Toward the end of last year and since the beginning of
2006, Cuban authorities have taken new repressive measures against our
husbands, who are prisoners of conscience in Cuba, and their families.
My husband, Francisco Chaviano González, a prisoner of conscience in
Cuba who has had to serve many years in prison, and I are no exception.
On December 28 during one of our scheduled visits, he told me that he
was being severely mistreated and that he was not allowed to have the
necessary food and rations that we bring to him. Consequently, I had to
react strongly and go through procedures with the prison authorities
until they allowed me to bring him his provisions at the end of the visit.
During the first days of this year, the State Security official that
attends to my husband’s case, a man known as “Jorge,” told him that his
application for minimum security prison status was not approved by the
General Directors of Jails and Prisons, where his cased was being
considered. This is also something that indicated a step backward
concerning Chaviano’s case since this same official had told us at the
end of November that my husband’s application had already been approved.
I have heard of prisoners of conscience whose family members have been
treated severely during inspections and of others who have had the time
between their visits increased. According to our experience, these
measures have been taken because of the activities that the Ladies in
White (las Damas de Blanco) have recently carried out and because of the
acclaim they have received. But, for my husband Francisco Chaviano and
for our family, these measures have been taken many times before.
For us, problems began in 1991. In December of that year, State Police
ordered my husband to leave the country with the threat that if he did
not leave, he would be sentenced to 15 years in jail, and they added
“…we have a very sharp mind and many things can occur to us…” They
carried out their word - posters on the walls against members of our
family, broken windows, a cut-off of our electricity during the early
morning hours, and acts of repudiation, among other things. Our two
older children had to leave the country. Three months later, they
incarcerated my husband and gave him the 15 years they promised, taking
advantage of the fact that two officials of Department 21 of
Counter-intelligence made a Secret Revelations to him about the nature
of the aggressions of which we were being victims.
From 1999 until 2003, we were not permitted to visit my husband in
prison, and he was taken to punishment cells on several occasions where
he was physically mistreated.
Toward the end of 2003, a change of policy came about for us. It was
communicated to us that they would set my husband free, and we thought
that our ordeal would end. Around the middle of 2004, authorities
released the principal official of Department 21 of State Security who
had revealed the secrets (the other was freed in 1998); they were the
only ones responsible and deserving to be imprisoned since Chaviano did
not work for the State and acted in his own defense.
Instead of freeing my husband, everything became a sadistic joke. They
beat him up and sent him to a punishment cell, and that was it.
So many years of mistreatment and enclosure without exposure to the sun
as frequently as he needs it have produced a lesion on his lung that,
according to doctors, requires a delicate operation. Nevertheless, his
illness does not seem to matter to the government. They will not free
him in spite of the fact that his sentence ended four years ago.
My husband, Franciso Chaviano González, has been in prison for 12 years,
making him the longest imprisoned human rights activist in the Americas
and making me a senior member of the Ladies in White.
In the last few years, as soon as authorities announce his upcoming
release from jail, they have begun a sordid game. To mess around with my
husband, they promise him over and over again that he will be freed,
next month or the one after that, and then nothing. They admit him to
the hospital and dismiss him without completing examinations or giving
him adequate treatment. We have also seen it necessary to send our young
daughter who remained with us out of the country.
I make a plea to human conscience to join us in asking our government to
respect the pain and suffering caused by the imprisonment of our loved
ones, allowing at least a normal life for our families, including an
adequate system of visits and treatment during them.
In addition, I add to this the demand that my husband be released
according to what is stipulated in Cuban laws before his condition