Havana prisoner who took video transferred to isolation cell in notorious prison
Havana prisoner who took video transferred to isolation cell in
José Daniel Ferrer García, a leading Cuban dissident arrested in eastern
Santiago de Cuba last week, remains in police custody.
By Juan O. Tamayo
An inmate who shot several videos inside a Havana prison to publicize
its awful conditions has been transferred to an isolation cell in one of
Cuba's worst prisons, a dissident journalist reported Monday.
A Colombian inmate who appeared in one of the videos to proclaim his
innocence has been on a hunger strike for more than a month and was
moved to a cell in the hospital wing of the Combinado del Este prison in
Havana, the journalist added.
Opposition activists also reported that all but one of the 43 government
critics arrested last week in eastern Santiago de Cuba had been released
as of Monday. The exception was José Daniel Ferrer García, a leading
dissident and former political prisoner.
Dissident journalist Virgen Dania García said Dalvinder Singh Jagpal, an
Indian citizen who shot the 10 videos inside the Combinado del Este
prison in January, had been transferred to the notorious Agüica prison
in the central province of Matanzas.
Singh is being held in an isolation cell, where he cannot speak to
anyone or leave his cell and is always watched by four guards, said
García, who added that she received the information from an inmate who
left Agüica last week.
Havana human rights activist Elizardo Sanchez Santa Cruz said Agüica was
among the five or six worst of Cuba's 50 maximum security prisons
because its cells can be unbearably hot or cold, depending on the season.
"I've been in several prisons, and believe me, that's one of the worst,"
said Sánchez Santa Cruz, who was in Agüica serving part of the 30-month
sentence he received in 1998 for criticizing the government.
Singh's videos of the Combinado del Este prison — which appeared to be
the first ever smuggled out of Cuba's 200-plus prisons — showed filthy
toilets, mold-covered walls, leaking sewage and food he described as
worse than "animal feed."
García said he was transferred to Agüica one week after El Nuevo Herald
published the videos. García, who writes the blog "Cuba por Dentro"—
Inside Cuba — helped to smuggle the video camera into the prison and to
smuggle out the videos.
Singh was arrested in 2002 and sentenced to 10 years on a charge of
corruption of minors. Ten months later, he was sentenced to another 20
years on a drug charge. He denies both charges.
García also reported that John Alexander Serrano, a 31-year-old
Colombian who appeared in the videos, has been on a hunger strike for
more than a month to highlight his claim that he is innocent of the drug
smuggling charges pending against him.
Arrested early this year, he is now being held in the hospital within
the Combinado del Este prison, according to García — not because he
needs medical attention but because prison authorities want to keep him
The dissident journalist noted that after the videos were made public,
police interrogated her about how the camera was smuggled into the
prison and whether any guards had been bribed. "I told them I did not
know," she told El Nuevo Herald.
García added that she also was detained during Pope Benedict XVI's visit
to Cuba last month, to keep her away from papal activities. She was
beaten and kept handcuffed for 32 hours after she soiled herself, she added.
Sánchez Santa Cruz meanwhile reported that Ferrer García, one of the 43
dissidents arrested last week, was being held Monday at a State Security
detention facility known as Versailles in the eastern city of Santiago
Ferrer has been highly active in dissident activities, and helped found
the opposition Patriotic Union of Cuba, since his release from prison
last spring. He had been jailed since the 2003 crackdown that sentenced
75 dissidents to long prison terms.
In the past year, his hometown of Palmarito del Cauto and the
neighboring town of Palma Soriano, 18 miles northwest of Santiago, have
become the focus of scores of anti-government protest and harsh police