The General Secretariat of the Organization of American States (OAS) has demanded the “immediate release of all arbitrarily imprisoned political prisoners” in Cuba. In a December 16, 2021 statement, the organization raised concerns about the condition of the island’s political prisoners.
“The violation of their fundamental rights and their arbitrary detentions constitute a flagrant violation of human rights in the country, which goes against all international instruments on the matter,” the OAS said.
The organization expressed particular concern for the well-being of José Daniel Ferrer, leader of the Patriotic Union of Cuba, and political prisoner of the regime “whose health appears to have deteriorated rapidly in recent weeks.” Ferrer was arrested on October 1, 2019 and sentenced to prison in February 2020 after a closed-door trial, the EFE news agency reported. In April 2020, amid strong international pressure, the Cuban justice system commuted Ferrer’s sentence to four and a half years of house arrest.
In July 2021, the opposition leader was detained again for participating in anti-government protests, according to EFE. “Ferrer is confined to a small walled cell, without any contact with people other than the guards who guard him, and without access to natural light,” the OAS said. “His reported breathing problems, vision loss, and other issues were attributed to the inhumane conditions where he is detained for exercising his legitimate civil and political rights,” the organization added.
The OAS General Secretariat urged Cuba to immediately allow a visit to the country by a “humanitarian mission of the universal and/or inter-American system for the protection of human rights” to verify the condition of political prisoners in the country. “The presence of a humanitarian mission is essential in a context such as the present one, and the General Secretariat will continue to monitor and remain alert to the existing situation,” the OAS added.
On December 6, Ana Belkis Ferrer, sister of José Daniel Ferrer, and in exile in the United States, denounced the serious conditions in which the Cuban opposition leader is imprisoned. “During nearly five months of unjust, inhumane, and criminal confinement, [José Daniel Ferrer] received visits from only two family members,” Ana Belkis said on Twitter. According to her, the opposition leader is very thin and has “deteriorated physically.”