CUBA: Journalist and writer Normando Hernández González’s health deteriorates in prison

***UPDATE: On 7 May 2008, Cuban journalist Normando Hernández González was removed from the hospital where he had been receiving treatment since September last year. He has now been returned to Kilo 7 prison, where he is reportedly being kept in solitary confinement and in very poor conditions despite his continuing need for medical care. The reasons for his transfer, which occurred in secret, are not known.***

The Writers in Prison Committee of English PEN is deeply concerned about the deteriorating health of Normando Hernández González. He is among a number of Cuban writers, journalists and librarians still detained today in violation of their right to freedom of expression following mass arrests in April 2003. They are  held in prisons where reports of poor conditions, ill treatment and lack of medical attention is common.

Alarm for Hernández González’s well being has increased in recent days when his wife reported to human rights activists in early December that her husband has been transferred to a provincial hospital in Camagüey after suffering further health complications. He is reported to have malabsorption syndrome, a disease of the intestine causing difficulties in absorbing nutrients which carries with it acute conditions such as malnutrition, heart disease and anaemia. As a result Hernandez has reportedly lost around 35 pounds of body weight and there are growing fears that he may die in detention.

Read Terence Blacker’s article ‘Spare a Thought for Castro’s Lonely Victims’ in the Independent

To read two poems written by Normando, please click here.

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