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Cuba22 June 2006

Prison hospital confirms Izquierdo’s condition getting worse

A team of military doctors at the prison hospital located inside Havana’s Combinado del Este prison have carried out a series of tests - blood and urine samples, ultrasound, chest X-rays and endoscopy - on independent journalist José Ubaldo Izquierdo Hernández that confirm an initial diagnosis in February that he cannot get proper treatment for his ailments while detained.

Izquierdo was hospitalised on 27 April with stomach inflammation and gastro-intestinal bleeding, which require a strict diet that he cannot get in prison. He has also undergone eye tests that show that his field of vision has narrowed.

Reporters Without Borders welcomes the doctors’ decision to keep him in hospital and not send him back to Guanajay prison in Havana province, where he was serving a 16-year sentence. The press freedom organisation hopes he will be allowed home on parole on health grounds.

Last February, the chief doctor at Guanajay prison said Izquierdo had a serious condition that could not be treated properly as long as he continued to be detained. But the doctor retracted two weeks later, saying there was nothing seriously wrong with him. Izquierdo used to work for the Grupo de Trabajo Decoro independent news agency. He was arrested in the March 2003 crackdown on dissidents and independent journalists.

03.03.06 - Prison doctor goes back on her own diagnosis of José Ubaldo Izquierdo Hernández

José Ubaldo Izquierdo Hernández, who has been imprisoned since the “Black Spring” of 2003 and sentenced to 16 years in prison, is suffering from an inflammation of the stomach and gastro-intestinal bleeding. This condition has required a strict nutritional diet. Dr Miriela Gómez Rodríguez, head of medical services at Guanajay prison, in Havana province, confirmed the diagnosis at the start of February, after he underwent an endoscopy examination. The prison doctor warned him that it would not be possible to receive adequate treatment in prison and simply prescribed him antibiotics, saying, “That’s all we can do”. The same Dr Gómez produced a new diagnosis on 27 February, according to which the journalist had “nothing serious”. His condition had not worsened and no longer required the diet, she said. The medical consultation took place this time in the presence of head of state security (political police) within Guanajay prison, Major Omar Evelio...

15.02.06 - Call for release of journalist after prison doctors say he is “incurable in prison”

Reporters Without Borders called for the immediate release of José Ubaldo Izquierdo Hernández, jailed since the March 2003 crackdown, and whose prison doctors have said his state of health is incompatible with imprisonment.

“The condition of José Ubaldo Izquierdo Hernández requires care that cannot be provided in jail, the prison doctors have recognised it themselves”, said the press freedom organisation.

“The journalist’s recovery calls for him to be freed immediately, or failing, that to be granted a release on licence for health reasons. We hope that the Cuban authorities will respond favourably to this humanitarian request”, it added.

Doctors meeting in Havana on 9 February 2006 confirmed that Izquierdo Hernández’s condition in Guanajay prison in Havana province had seriously deteriorated over the past nine months, the Cubanet news agency reported.

Gastroenterologist Dr Vazquez found lesions in the stomach while carrying out an endoscopy on the journalist. The specialist detected a stomach inflammation and recent gastro-intestinal bleeding and recommended a strict diet.

Once informed of the specialist’s diagnosis, Dr Miriela Gómez Rodríguez, head of medical services at Guanajay prison told the journalist that he could not be treated in prison. The doctor prescribed a treatment to “ease an inflammation of the gastric mucus”. “That’s all we can do”, he explained.

Izquierdo Hernández, 40, was arrested on 18 March 2003 and sentenced to 16 years in prison. The former head of an independent library in Güines, Havana province, where he originates from, was working before his arrest for the Grupo de Trabajo Decoro news agency. Two other dissident journalists, who worked for the same agency, have also been in jail since 2003 : Héctor Maseda Gutiérrez and Omar Moisés Ruiz Hernández, sentenced respectively to 20 and 18 years in prison. A third member of the Grupo de Trabajo Decoro, Oscar Mario González Pérez, has been held without trial since 22 July 2005.

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in the annual report
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