Desde Dentro de Cuba.

Distribuido por Cuba Free Press, Inc. -

23 de Marzo del 2000


Havana.- In the maximum security prison known as "Cuba Yes" on the highway en Route to San German in Holguin Province, 768 kilometers from Havana, Dr. Oscar Elias Biscet received his first family visit on March 15. His wife, Elsa Morejon de Biscet and his parents were able to meet with the pacifist dissident and founder of the Lawton Human Rights Foundation. Castro regime officials authorized the visit.

Mrs. Biscet said she had difficulty recognizing her husband. He had reached the prison after a trip of nearly 12 hours without eating or sleeping and when he arrived the jailers shaved his head and removed his beard by force. He has lost weight and is very thin and now is missing several teeth. Nevertheless, he seemed to be in good physical and spiritual health.

When the visitors saw him he had been in prison 15 days since his transfer to Holguin from the Technical Department for Investigations unit in Havana. Mrs. Biscet was allowed to take a basket with foods not rich in protein but with items to improve his nutrition. The prison diet is poor.

The jailers allow him books. Being well educated, he enjoys the Bible, the Legacy of Father Felix Varela, classical Spanish poems, the works of Shakespeare and a book titled "Philosophy of Art." He has an English and a Spanish dictionary.

In the section where Dr. Biscet finds himself are 61 inmates, all serving sentences of less than five years each on various charges. His wife found the visiting room clean and the guards treating people well.

Mrs. Biscet got the impression that the prisoners with Dr. Biscet have a low incidence of aggressiveness. Up to the day of the visit, water was being turned on twice a day. After her husband had been in walled-in cells for nearly two years, Mrs. Biscet was surprised to find him in civilian clothes. He told her that up to the day of the visit, he was not required to put on a prison uniform. She told Cuba Free Press she hopes the guards don't make him wear one.

On March 4, when he was moved to the "Cuba Yes" prison, officials told him they had to shave his beard. Dr. Biscet refused and they had to do it by force. He was handcuffed and Mrs. Biscet said he must have moved and most certainly resisted since he told them he did not want to remove his beard "until the dictatorship ends." It must not have been easy; he said eight prison guards restrained him. They injured his face when they shaved him and he bled some.

When Mrs. Biscet left the prison she told the "re-educator" that officials should have tried to persuade him so he would calm down instead of being forced.

Dr. Biscet was calm when the visitors saw him, with no marks on his face. They had a chance to touch him. Physical contact is very important for any prisoner, not to mention his family. The visitors spoke facing him across a long marble table at the end of which was a guard. The family hopes to visit him again April 18.

This family visit greatly touched Dr. Biscet and his wife, who said, "For me, the experience that I had was…I don't know. It moved me. At first I looked for him at the table and I didn't recognize him, shaved, without hair or beard and so thin and with missing teeth. It reminded me of the political imprisonment of my father when I was a child. It was a return to that past. I had to confront the same feelings all over again. I felt ill for several days. My father was imprisoned from 1961 until 1974 with those stranded with Mario Chanez de Armas. The first big buildings that I saw when I was two or three were those of La Cabana and the ferry boat that goes to the island, since my father was imprisoned on the Isle of Pines and in Guanajay. I had already buried that memory but now the past returned to be reborn again."

The memories flooded her mind and the emotion was notable in the voice of this Cuban woman whom destiny made to be the daughter and the wife of political prisoners, victims of the same regime. Communism locked up her father and now locks up her husband; an entire generation has elapsed.

"When my father was imprisoned we had a big chicken coup. We sold eggs and with 100 Cuabn pesos we made the long trips and took an enormous basket for my father and another prisoner, Pedro Orozco, who now is in Hialeah. We helped my grandmother a lot. But as children we lived it differently...It was a great joy to prepare the basket, to go on the visit, to board that ship, and then to meet my father. The good-bye was sad but we lived until the next month preparing little letters and building a great excitement for the meeting again..."

Now she realizes the difference because it is she, not her grandmother, who has the responsibility of facing the reality. "The Lord has put this situation in my path again," she said. She says she prays a lot. The task her husband faces involves a great spiritual and physical struggle, she said and she has put his health and that of his family in the hands of God, hoping that He will save him and keep him from illness and so that nothing worse happens to him.

She said, "When he was in the walled-in cells in Havana he even preached the gospel, with two convicted murderers among his listeners. He taught what human rights are and expressed kind thoughts. Now he is in prison. The Lord will be with him wherever he is because God is all powerful and always present. I believe He will help him a lot and will give peace to his heart. I see him there yet I don't form the impression that he is imprisoned!"

The voice of Mrs. Morejon de Biscet then broke at the memory of her seeing her emaciated husband in prison.

"My husband does public acts. He brings people out on the streets. He unites the community, carries out actions that have implications at the international level. They couldn't put up with that," she added.

"I want the people to know that in spite of the fact that my husband is in prison, he is not forgotten. And he will always be remembered because of what he has done for the good of humanity."

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