Health of Imprisoned Cuban Dissidents Concerns U.S.
(State Department calls for release of 75 political prisoners) (420) The United States is concerned about the health of several political prisoners in Cuba, according to a June 2 statement issued by State Department Deputy Spokesman Philip Reeker. Reeker said that several of the 75 Cuban dissidents arrested and sentenced to long jail terms in March 2003 are ill and require immediate access to adequate health care. He called on the Cuban government to immediately release all 75 of the political prisoners or, at a minimum, provide them with the necessary health care, cease the inhumane treatment of these prisoners and allow humanitarian organizations to monitor their treatment. Following is the text of Reeker's statement: (begin text) U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE Office of the Spokesman June 2, 2003 STATEMENT BY PHILIP T. REEKER, DEPUTY SPOKESMAN U.S. Concern about the Health of Oscar Espinosa Chepe and Other Political Prisoners The United States is deeply concerned over the Cuban government's treatment of Cuban political prisoner Oscar Espinosa Chepe. According to his wife and other family members, Mr. Chepe may die if he is not transferred immediately from prison hospital to a better facility in Havana. This Cuban political prisoner is suffering from liver disease, edema, gastrointestinal bleeding, and other symptoms indicating a serious medical condition. The United States demands that the Cuban government provide Mr. Chepe with adequate health care and transfer him to a hospital where he can receive the level of care commensurate with his illness. Mr. Chepe is a 62-year old independent journalist, and is one of 75 independent activists, journalists, and librarians arrested and sentenced to long jail terms in March 2003. He was arrested and sentenced to prison for 28 years on trumped up treason charges. His only real crime was to call for peaceful change in Cuba. Mr. Chepe and all 75 of these political prisoners should be released immediately. The United States is also concerned by reports that political prisoners Raul Rivero, Martha Beatriz Roque, Jorge Olivera, and Roberto de Miranda are also ill. All should be given immediate access to adequate health care. Many of the 75 prisoners are being held in inhumane conditions, with very poor sanitation, contaminated water, and nearly inedible food. The Cuban government appears to be going out of its way to treat these prisoners inhumanely. It should immediately cease this practice and, at the minimum, allow the appropriate humanitarian organizations to monitor the treatment of its political prisoners. (end text) (Distributed by the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)
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