PRISONER OF CONSCIENCE,
JUAN CARLOS HERRERA ACOSTA, FIGHTS
FOR HIS LIFE
November 16, 2007
Kilo 8 Prison
“I’m letting it be known that my state
of health is failing at an extremely dangerous pace. My physical
well-being remains under the Sword of Damocles, and I could die.
My days are slowly coming to an end because of the various dangerous
illnesses from which I suffer: high blood pressure, a right bundle
branch block in my heart, hypertensive retinopathy, a heart murmur,
a pyloric-duodenal prolapse, chronic dermatitis, asthma, cervical
arthritis, lumbo-sacral arthralgia, vitiligo, kidney and liver disorders,
and an obvious immunological deficiency. I’m extremely underweight,
which is quite worrisome.
Faced with this dangerous picture, prison authorities
have demonstrated a policy of disinterest and indifference until
last October 23rd when I sewed my mouth shut as a fair complaint
against the violation of my rights and the awful living conditions
under which I am kept as if I were a wild animal while the prison
officials’ dogs live under exceptional conditions.
I held firm for 8 days without eating and taking in very little
water, which made the state and prison police take note. On November
2nd, I was moved to the Department of Medical Services of MININT
during the night. This step was in vain because the favorable conditions
did not exist to do tests on me. They were postponed until the next
day around noon when I was submitted to an endoscopy and a biopsy
in the area of the esophagus, stomach, and intestine. The exams
showed a large inflammation around there, giardiasis and a hiatal
hernia, as well as bacteria that, from what became clear and from
the silence shown, are a malignant kind. (H. Pylori)
The situation turned out to be much more threatening to my life
that expected. I don’t harbor a single hope of getting out
of this monstrous place alive. Clearly my days are numbered, and,
as usual, the Cuban regime will not let me meet with those whom
I love before I die—it’s a policy of vengeance and settling
of scores. Since I don’t reject the possibility of a clinically
induced death, neither do I reject the possibility of being the
next Miguel Valdés Tamayo. Yet, in spite of this dangerous
outlook, I’m letting my brothers know that I’ll continue
giving as much as I can. I will continue my firm stance in defense
of human rights with my campaign of accusations towards murders
and cruel, inhumane, and degrading treatments.
Life is of little importance when firm and true ideas
exist to defend. Eleven million Cubans suffer the vengeful shots
of a tyranny in order to defend the right to a free, inclusive,
pluralistic, and respectful country for everyone, one like the most
highly regarded of all Cubans, José Martí, dreamed
of. Until the last moment of my life, I will continue to stick to
my patriotic ideals. When I die, one more political assassination
will fall upon the back of this tyranny.
I will not ask for pity from those who torture me
physically and psychologically. I proclaim my critical situation
to the international community, and may it, along with my fellow
Cubans in exile, accuse the regime in Havana. I will not be the
first or the last to lose my life in Castro’s dungeons. There
have been others throughout these fifty years of harsh dictatorship
who have tried to restore a civil society. Cubans have the right
to freedom, to a plurality of criteria, to free and transparent
elections. Cuba deserves to occupy the empty seat that is waiting
for her among the elite number of democratic nations.
Let all Cubans in exile and those that determinedly
and peacefully struggle in the streets know that I will not give
up. As a dignified follower of the ideas of Varela, Martí,
Gandhi, and Martin Luther King, I will not bow down, nor will my
knees give way. I will continue from this dark place in support
of this noble and just cause.
I cannot deny that it’s been a hard blow for
me to know that I’m dying. I would love to contribute more
so that a bright and promising future could add luster to our currently
tarnished country from a entelechy, a breed of gangsters and mafia.
I’m not afraid to face death. I’m not afraid for them
to kill me. Whatever happens will happen; all will unfold as it’s
supposed to be. I ask my brothers in the struggle not to become
discouraged, to continue forward. From Castro’s gulag, I extend
my message of hope.
I have begun a new battle, this time for my life.
A young Canadian named Terry Fox, knowing that cancer was eating
up his whole body and with an amputated leg, ran thousands of kilometers
before dying, and he never lost heart in his efforts. For me, it
would be a very high honor to be added to the list of Castro’s
victims. They will not succeed in extracting a cry of pity. I believe
I can give even more and provide much more for our children and
this country so that all can live in complete freedom.
I am very physically weak, but I’m strong spiritually.
I know nothing is in vain, and I reiterate that my situation has
become much more critical. I face this harsh reality. Nothing will
dishearten me. Since November 3rd when I found out just how critical
my health was, I have received a show of solidarity on the part
of many prisoners that strengthens me.
To my brothers of the honorable political prisoners
group, Pedro Luis Boitel, and especially to that tireless fighter,
Jorge Luis García Pérez, “Antúnez,”
I want you to know that Juan Carlos Herrera Acosta will stand up
and face the terror until his last day. My weakened and critical
state of health is one more example of the cruel and inhumane Cuban
prison system. The world should not support the pain that those
behind bars suffer for defending the right to life, to total liberty.
This is the price one pays under the auspices of Castro and to which
I aspire with stoicism and as a worthy son of this country.
*Juan Carlos Herrera Acosta, 41, was sentenced to
20 years in jail in March, 2003. He is a prisoner of conscience
of the Group of 75. He is an independent journalist, a member of
the Cuban Council of Rapporteurs of Human Rights and the national
coordinator of the Youth for Democracy Movement. His address is
Calle 3 Oeste #1105 e/ Pintó y Varonal, Guantánamo,
This testimony was given from Kilo 8 Prison on November
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