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7/18/04 - FREE CUBA’S POLITICAL PRISONERS - 2004-07-19

Dr. Oscar Elias Biscet, one of Cuba’s most prominent jailed dissidents, is reportedly being starved by the regime of Cuban dictator Fidel Castro. Dr. Biscet’s wife, Elsa Morejón Hernández, has released a letter from her husband which was smuggled out of Kilo Eight prison. The letter alleges that prison officials have denied Dr. Biscet food since mid-June. Ms. Morejon Hernandez says the withholding of food started after Dr. Biscet joined other prisoners in an act of civil disobedience. They shouted, "Down with the Castro-Communist dictatorship."

Dr. Biscet is the founder of Cuba’s Lawton Center for Human Rights. In October 2002, he completed a three-year prison term on trumped-up charges of "insulting the symbols of the homeland," "public disorder," and "instigation to commit crime." In fact, he merely participated in anti-abortion protests and hung a Cuban flag upside down during a press conference he held to discuss the regime's treatment of political prisoners. In December 2002, Dr. Biscet and other Cuban dissidents were arrested following a pro-democracy meeting at a private home in Havana. This time, Dr. Biscet was sentenced to twenty-five years in prison.

The past few years in Cuba have been particularly difficult for those who oppose Fidel Castro's Communist regime. The regime has arrested hundreds of dissidents who have called for democracy and respect for the human rights of the Cuban people. President George W. Bush says the United States will continue to pressure the Castro government to change:

“Today, the struggle for freedom continues in cities and towns of that beautiful island, in Castro's prisons, and in the heart of every Cuban patriot. . . . In all that lies ahead, the Cuban people have a constant friend in the United States of America. No tyrant can stand forever against the power of liberty, because the hope of freedom is found in every heart."

In his letter from prison, Dr. Oscar Elias Biscet wrote, “I have the spiritual sustenance and the strength that God provides to all those who love him in justice and truth." The Cuban government should deal justly with Dr. Biscet. He and hundreds of other prisoners of conscience in Cuba should be immediately released.