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Cuba26 September 2005

Arroyo tells wife he intends to carry on with hunger strike

Elsa González Padrón, who had not seen her jailed husband, Victor Rolando Arroyo Carmona, or had any word for him for four months, was finally able to see him for 10 minutes on 22 September, the Miami-based group “Municipios de Cuba en el exilio” (Cuban municipalities in exile) has reported. González was quoted as saying that, although in a very poor condition, her husband was still alert and lucid and said he was determined to press on with his hunger strike so that he would “no longer have to undergo constant human rights violations.” She is calling for a civilian doctor to be allowed to monitor him.

23.09.05 - Imprisoned journalist enters third week of hunger strike

Reporters Without Borders voiced deep concern about the condition of imprisoned journalist Victor Rolando Arroyo Carmona, who today began his third week on hunger strike.

His wife, Elsa González Padrón, said he was transferred to a hospital in the southeastern city of Guantánamo on 17 September but is refusing a drip and is extremely dehydrated. He has been detained since March 2003.

“The Cuban government does not stop at silencing independent journalists, it also lets them die slowly in dreadful prison conditions,” Reporters Without Borders said. “Arroyo’s hunger strike worries us all the more as he is already very debilitated by more than two years in Cuban jails. We hope at the very least that he will get an improvement in conditions and we reiterate our call to the government for the release of all of the 23 journalists currently in prison.”

Arroyo reportedly went on hunger strike in protest against mistreatment, in particular, the psychological torture to which he is subjected by certain prison staff. He is often put in a punishment cell and does not get the treatment he needs for chronic ailments. Fellow prisoner of conscience Félix Navarro has also reportedly been on hunger strike for nearly 10 days in solidarity with Arroyo.

González, who has not been able to visit her husband for nearly four months, was turned back at the entrance to the Guantánamo hospital when she tried to visit him on 22 September.

Aged 53, Arroyo is a member of the Union of Cuban Journalists and Writers. He was arrested during the spring 2003 crackdown on dissidents and independent journalists and was sentenced on 30 March 2003 to 26 years in prison.

Mirtha Wong has meanwhile said she is worried about the state of health of her husband, Oscar Mario González, who was arrested on 25 July and is awaiting trial for allegedly violating the draconian Law 88. She has called for husband’s release until the trial, in which he faces a possible sentence of more than 20 years in prison.

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