Desde Dentro de Cuba.

Distribuido por Cuba Free Press, Inc. - http://www.cubafreepress.org

25 de Febrero del 2000

POLITICAL PRISONERS SEND OPEN LETTER TO PASTOR ROBERT EDGAR OF NATIONAL COUNCIL OF CHURCHES. By Vivian de los Angeles Acosta for Cuba Free Press

Editor's note: In their desperation to be heard by anyone who might show some interest in them and help them in their struggle to have their cases dismissed and thus be freed from prison, three Cuban political prisoners who have been sentenced to many years in prison for trying to leave their country clandestinely, write to the Reverend Robert Edgar of the National Council of Churaches of Christ, USA.

Boniato Prison, Santiago de Cuba Monday February 21, 2000

To Reverend Robert Edgar, President National Council of Churches of Christ of U.S.A. New York, NY USA

Dear Brother in Jesus Christ:

Let us first send you our most respectful and cordial greeting as is the custom of even the most humble of the children of our long-suffering country. We wish to extend our greetings from the bottom of our hearts to all religious congregations that are part of the NCC, as well as the people and government of the United States of America.

We are three Cuban political prisoners: Jorge Pelegrin Ruiz, Juan Ramirez Gonzalez and Alejandro Mustafa Reyes.

Dear Sir, our country talks about human rights but employs violence and repression when one of its citizens claims his/her human rights. In their speeches and lectures they (our rulers) equally speak of social justice but in reality use injustice as a bastion of reason.

We are honest men, simple, peaceful and hard workers. We have been imprisoned for the simple reason of trying to achieve in foreign lands that which is denied us in the country where we were born as slaves: liberty.

None of us have stolen anything or raped or murdered anyone. We are men who have dissented with the ruling regime in our country. Our intentions were to leave behind this miserable life and go in search of a better life for our loved ones.

Let's keep in mind that Jesus proclaimed that happy are the poor, but not because they were forced to be poor as is the case in our country, but because they believe in the kingdom of God.

Cuban authorities, in their disordered state of hard dogma, consider every opposing opinion not only as something different but as treason and thus punish it with the cold fist of an inquisitor. They treat as heretics all those who deviate from the official dogma, confining them to psychiatric hospitals and/or prisons or both.

We have been imprisoned for more than six years. In the six months it took to grant us "due process," the Cuban authorities violated the most elemental of rights that we merit as human beings as well as having put in danger our physical well-being.

The trial, a judicial sham, was held without any procedural guarantees. What's more, the authorities allowed us to speak for the first time with our court-appointed lawyers only when the trial began. That is in part because the Provincial Tribunal that presided over our trial for the so-called "crimes against the security of the state" answers only to the integral interests of the political police and the Communist Party.

In our country, every institution is under the command of the government elite: The Armed Forces, the Police, Justice Department, Executive Committee and Council of State as well as the Legislature. Our sanctions have are exceedingly cruel and unjust as well as out of all bounds.

Mr. Pelegrin Ruiz got a 36-year sentence and Messrs. Ramirez Gonzalez and Mustafa Reyes each got 20-year sentences. These sentences are more criminal than any supposed crimes committed by us.

These sanctions not only condemned us but also condemned our wives and children, as well as the mother of one of us, to live from public charity in order to receive their daily bread.

Reverend, we are not deceiving you when we state that during our imprisonment we have been savagely tortured, physically as well as psychologically. Our bodies still bear the scars and marks from these tortures as a reminder of this horrible and humiliating treatment.

We have also been exiled from our community and confined in different prisons far away from our homes. One of these prisons was the world reknowned infamous prison called Kilo 8, where they kept us for two years in the most illegal, unjust and inhumane regimen of gravest severity in the country. We were held in completely enclosed cells (tapiadas) which are humid and dark and lack ventilation and provisions.

Rats, roaches and other vermin were all we had to keep us company in our martyrdom. We are not lying when we assure you that it would have been more Christian to have executed us than to have buried us alive in the dungeon of silence.

Currently, we are confined at the national prison in the township of Boniato in Santiago, Cuba, where we are subjected to the cruelest, abject and deplorable conditions that a human being can be subjected to and where we are forced to live with the most notorious common criminals of the country.

These are criminals of all sorts: murderers, thieves, rapists, etc. They are encouraged by the prison authorities to attack us and cause us bodily harm at the least provocation. Amen to the vigilance we are under, since our lives are at risk.

We are Christians and therefore we know that the greatest pain is the pain of knowing that one is innocent. We are innocent. This is why we are raising our voices to you today. This is not a political request. This is humanitarian request for we are first humans, and then political.

We do not put in doubt your humanity and prestige as a person and as President of the NCC, just as we do not doubt your giving spirit, compassion and understanding and the unity and justice of the NCC and of the American people and the U.S. government. We trust in you and your honorable organization that you so honorably lead.

Our letter is a request, a plea from the deepest part of our hearts to please intercede on our behalf with the Cuban government with the objective being our freedom and emigration from this country.

We also use this opportunity to give our sworn testimony that we will never disturb the peace of the country that grants us asylum with words or acts. Please note that hate and resentment do not reign in our hearts, only love and trust in our fellow man as well as peace and reconciliation. The most important thing for us is to make use of the time that God has granted us to serve others. He who has not suffered knows very little. We are suffering more than we thought possible.

We know about your fight for the poor, the humble, the dispossessed and human rights. We do not doubt your kind heart and your detachment. We also do not doubt the laudable reasons why you perform your humanitarianism. This is why we rest our hopes in that God will grant you the necessary wisdom to help us get out of this place which can only be compared with hell.

Our brother in Christ, may God bless you and your family and may He grant you health, peace and love. May God bless all congregations of the Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States. May God bless the American people and the U.S. government.

Thank you very much.

Respectfully yours,

Jorge Pelegrin Ruiz. Home Address: C/O Georgina Ruiz Hernandez (Mother), Edificio A56, Apto. 9, Quinto Piso, Centro Urbano Antonio Maceo, Santiago de Cuba.

Alejandro Mustafa Reyes. Home Address: Calle 1ro de Mayo No. 56 entre Maceo y Aguilera, Palma Soriano, Santiago de Cuba. CP 92610, Cuba. Wife: Mrs. Ramona Viltres Martinez

Juan Ramirez Gonzalez. Home Address: Calle 1ra, No. 16 entre A y B Los Camilitos, Los Dos Rios, Palma Soriano, Santiago de Cuba, CP 92610. Wife: Mrs. Rubi Estrada y Garza.

Vivian de los Angeles Acosta, Cuba Free Press.

Editor's additional note: These political prisoners tried to leave Cuba in 1993. This incident caused great commotion in their township. There was even a confrontation with the frontier guards. The harsh sentences were supposedly an attempt to make an example of them. These young men, at a minimum, may qualify for their case to be reviewed and their sentences reduced. We, their colleagues in freedom, hope and pray that the people to whom this letter was addressed will take the prisoners' circumstances into account and try to help them. The reason Cuba Free Press is publishing this letter is to reach the Reverend Edgar, since the prisoners have no way of mailing anything out of Cuba.


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