Adolfo Fernández Saínz

Profession: journalist

Year of birth: 1947

Details of arrest: arrested as part of a crackdown on alleged dissidents that began on 18 March 2003 and in which around 90 people were detained. 

Details of trial: one of 35 journalists, writers and librarians sentenced during the one-day trials held on 3/4 April 2003 under laws governing the protection of the Cuban state. The one-day court hearings were held behind closed doors and it is reported that there was insufficient time for the accused to put together a cogent defence.

Sentence: 15 years

Health concerns: reported on 3 June 2003 by Russian news agency Prima News to have started a 13-day hunger strike to demand more frequent visiting rights for his relatives. Reported to have started another hunger strike on 15 August 2003, this time with Mario Enrique Mayo and Iván Hernández Carillo, to demand decent food and medicine for seriously ill prisoners. Reported to have begun a third hunger strike on 18 October 2003 with Mario Enrique Mayo in protest at the sending of fellow journalist Iván Hernández Carillo to a punishment cell. Reported to have been knocked unconscious on 6 December 2003 when he protested against violence used against a fellow prisoner. In September 2004 it was announced that Fernández had developed an as yet undiagnosed lump around waist height. Reported in February 2005 to be suffering from emphysema, a cyst in one of his kidneys, a hernia, prostatic hypertrophia (Grade 1), generalised arthritis and high blood pressure. Began a hunger strike on 19 August 2005 with two fellow prisoners in protest at an alleged assault by a prison guard on one of the latter, who was also sent to a punishment cell. A week later, on discovering that the prisoner in question had been removed from the punishment cell, the hunger strike was abandoned. On 6 January 2006 his wife and daughter visited him in prison and reported that he was suffering from high blood pressure and circulation problems and had lost weight. On 24 August 2007, it was reported that Fernández’ health was in further decline. He was said to be suffering from chronic hypertension, emphysema, prostatic hyperplasia and a kidney cyst, and according to his daughter is 20lbs under his normal wait.

On 19 September 2008, alongside prisoners of conscience Pedro Arguelles Morán and Antonio Dias Sanchez, Fernández Sainz began a hunger strike, protesting against the withholding of religious materials, personal letters and photos that had been brought to the prison by his wife. They brought the hunger strike to a successful end on the morning of the 23 September, when the authorities of Canaleta Prison in Ciego de Avila handed over the religious literature which had been withheld from Fernández Sainz since 16 September. In late 2008 it was reportedly that his wife had to travel 400 kilometres for their two-monthly visits.

Honorary member: English PEN

To read an article by Adolfo Fernández Saínz and an article on Cuba by Joan Smith published in the New Statesman on 12 January 2004 click here

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