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Cuba14 October 2005

Mayo Hernández tries to take his life, sees death as the only way out

Reporters Without Borders today voiced deep concern about the condition of imprisoned journalist Mario Enrique Mayo Hernández after his wife and mother reported that he tried to commit suicide twice and is still determined to end his life. He has been detained since March 2003 and is serving a 20-year prison sentence.

“Mayo cannot take any more, physically and mentally, nor can his family,” the press freedom organisation said. “Does death offer the only relief in Cuban prisons, as exiled journalist Raúl Rivero asked last week when fellow journalist Victor Rolando Arroyo Carmona was on hunger strike? We call on the Cuban authorities to free Mayo and all of the other 22 imprisoned journalists at once.”

After many hours of wait and uncertainty, Mayo’s wife and mother were able to see him in Kilo 7 prison in Camagüey for about 30 minutes on 12 October. His wife, Maidelin Guerra, told Reporters Without Borders that he very debilitated, both physically and psychologically, and is determined to take his life.

“He has written ‘Innocent. Freedom’ in large letters on his body with razor or a nail or something else he found, on his stomach, arms and face,” Guerra said. “He told us he would continue to write these words on himself until there was no more room and then he would commit suicide. He kept repeating to us, ‘I shouldn’t be here. I’ve done nothing.’ He cannot stand it any more.”

Guerra added that the prison officials are “paving the way” by already disclaiming any responsibility in the event of Mayo’s death in prison. She said he should be receiving treatment but she had no way of verifying it. Mayo tried to take his life twice already by hanging himself with sheets or wire.

Guerra also told Reporters Without Borders that Alfredo Manuel Pulido López, another journalist held at Kilo 7 prison, is confined to his bed. He is suffering from acute depression and migraines for which he needs to undergo tests. Arrested in the black spring of 2003 like Mayo, he is serving a 14-year prison sentence.

Meanwhile, Oscar Mario González, who was arrested on 22 July, was hospitalised on 11 October. His wife, Mirta Wong, explained that during her most recent visits, he was suffering from memory loss and had difficulty putting sentences together. González is awaiting trial on charges that carry a possible 20-year prison sentence.

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