Dr. García Paneque was arrested in March 2003 as part of a major crackdown on peaceful dissent in Cuba. He was charged under Law 88 and sentenced at a summary trial to 24 years in prison. Since 2005, he has been held in the “Las Mangas” prison in Bayamo, Cuba, where his health has been dangerously deteriorating.
In addition to developing severe digestive problems from the poor prison food and lack of movement and sunlight, Dr. García Paneque has been harassed by the common criminals in the prison. Dr. García Paneque cannot digest lactose and gluten, and such dietary restrictions are not accommodated by the prison diet. His wife reports that he has lost nearly 50 percent of his body weight.
In early June 2007, Dr. García Paneque informed his mother that the prison doctors had taken him to a hospital in Bayamo, Cuba, after he complained of intense abdominal pain. An ultrasound revealed a cyst measuring 36 by 38 mm on his kidney, which prison doctors want to surgically remove. Dr. García Paneque was transferred to the medical ward of “Las Mangas” from the beginning of June until the end of July 2007. The ward is not equipped to properly treat Dr. García Paneque’s health condition. Medical exams at the “Carlos Manuel de Céspedes” Hospital in Bayamo revealed that he is suffering from a cyst on his kidney and from pneumonia.
Despite his fragile health, Dr. García Paneque was returned to a humid cell without windows in early August 2007, sharing the space with more then 15 criminal detainees who reportedly subject him to harassment and beatings. On August 28, 2007, a common criminal entered Dr. García Paneque’s cell and beat him about the head. The injuries required four stitches above his eyebrow.
Members of Dr. García Paneque’s family, including his four young children, have been repeatedly harassed at home and at school, culminating in their fleeing the island in March 2007. Yamilé Llanes Labrada is an active member of the Ladies in White.
His family’s petitions for his release based on health concerns, as well as requests that he be treated by an independent medical professional, have gone unanswered by the Cuban authorities.
I continue my quixotic quest to find the true socialist workers' paradise.
(Being sure that Dr. García Paneque’s ill treatment in prison can be attributed to the US trade embargo.)