El American had the opportunity to sit down and talk with Omar Vento, both a doctor of internal medicine and gastroenterologist and the president of the Foundation for Pan American Democracy, an NGO dedicated to protecting human rights and republican governance across the Americas. Dr. Vento detailed how the Cuban regime has been handling the COVID crisis.
The political prisoner population is especially susceptible to this situation. Many are questioning whether this is a regime-driven strategy to wipe out the opposition in the Island. Dr. Vento believes that is the case.
The unprecedented Cuban Uprising of July 11 (“J11”) initiated a barbaric response from the communist dictatorship to regain control of the public spheres. An intense campaign of state terrorism has effectively wiped out the lingering demonstrations that lasted several days. Jose Daniel Ferrer and Felix Navarro are among those who were arrested and have remained virtually isolated from civilization. Both are former political prisoners from the Black Spring crackdown in 2003.
Given the fact that the J11protests were totally spontaneous and undirected by any single political group, most of those that participated were ordinary individuals without much international recognition. The Castro-Communist government has taken advantage of that by detaining people indiscriminately, many of them minors. Ferrer and Navarro, who both served eight-year political prison sentences (2003-2011), are receiving, according to witnesses, very harsh treatments given their past involvement in anti-communism protests.
In the case of Navarro, the 66-year-old contracted COVID while in prison and went on a subsequent hunger strike. On September 2, his daughter Sayli Navarro, also a human rights activist, issued a statement announcing her father had stopped the hunger strike.
Dr. Omar Vento described, from a medical perspective, the toll that a hunger strike takes on a person. The fact that those being detained and others already serving a prison sentence, do so in subhuman conditions, was a constant point addressed by the interviewee.
International solidarity for the crimes against humanity being committed in Cuba is something that the doctor and human rights champion discussed broadly. OAS Secretary Luis Almagro and Ned Price of the U.S. State Department have been among that have expressed concerns for Navarro’s safety and wellbeing.
This must-watch interview sheds some light on the mechanics of those undergoing brutal situations behind Castro’s jails.