January 10, 2008

Introduction: Since 1998 more than 200 libraries have been founded in Cuba to challenge government control of information. Cuba's independent librarians are being subjected to systematic persecution. Their libraries are being raided, library directors are being subjected to long prison terms, threats and mob attacks, and numerous library collections have been burned by order of the Cuban courts.

Dr. José Luis García Paneque is the director of the Carlos J. Finlay Library, which specializes in medical information. He is serving a 20-year prison term. His life is in danger as a result of a failure to provide health care for chronic rectal bleeding and other health problems. Dr. Garcia Paneque has been named as a prisoner of conscience by Amnesty International which, along with other human rights groups, is calling for his immediate release. This information has been provided by the Coalition of Cuban-American Women.

To help save the life of Dr. Garcia Paneque, it would be appreciated if librarians around the world would send immediate appeals on his behalf to Cuba's "official" library association, known by the acronym ASCUBI, which has influence with Cuban government officials. The e-mail address of ASCUBI is: ([log in to unmask]). Please send COPIES of your message to: ([log in to unmask] ) and ([log in to unmask]).

Thank you,

Robert Kent
Co-chair, The Friends of Cuban Libraries


January, 2008

On December 22, 2007, Cuban prisoner of conscience, Dr. José Luis García Paneque, confined in Las Mangas Prison in Bayamo, informed his mother, Mrs. Moralinda Paneque that that morning, he had suffered from dizziness due to a serious episode of diarrhea and profuse rectal bleeding. According to the physician sent from Carlos Manuel de Céspedes Hospital who examined him, this could indicate the development of a duodenal ulcer. However, Dr. García Paneque, who hardly weighs 100 pounds, told his family that this bleeding is really a complication related to the malabsorption Syndrome he suffers from, an illness that he developed in prison and which does not allow the food he ingests to nourish his body.

In 2004, Dr. García Paneque was submitted to invasive medical evaluations for the inadequate absorption of the food he was eating in prison. The doctors from Vladimir Lenin Hospital in Holguín told him the results showed a clinical pattern of prolonged chronic diarrhea. Then, towards the end of 2006, Dr. Paneque began to suffer from incessant bouts of rectal bleeding that are now more numerous and profuse.

In June, 2007, Dr. García Paneque was admitted to the criminal ward of Carlos Manuel de Céspedes Hospital where he was diagnosed with a kidney tumor and pneumonia. As a result of the pneumonia, he suffers from pleural effusion of the right lung and constant chest colds. Since the beginning of this year, prison authorities at Las Mangas Prison in Bayamo have not allowed him access to fresh air or sunlight.

The Cuban doctor is confined in a barrack next to ten common prisoners whom he fears because of their violent and difficult nature. It has been a practice of Cuban prison authorities to confine political prisoners next to violent delinquents as a method of physical and mental torture. Cuban State Security offers special privileges to common prisons provided they provoke, beat up, and humiliate, etc., Cuban political prisoners.

Dr. García Paneque was arrested on March 18, 2003, and sentenced to 24 years in jail during the wave of repression that the Cuban government carried out against members of the civil society who were promoting independent ideas on the island.

Dr. García Paneque’s wife and four children were forced to seek exile in the United States on March 8, 2007, because of the violent acts of repudiation that were being carried out against their home by mobs instigated by Cuban State Security.

Dr. García Paneque’s family makes an URGENT APPEAL to the international community since they fear for the safety and physical and psychological well-being of this Cuban physician who is unjustly imprisoned in a maximum-security prison for defending the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in his own country.

Information obtained from Mrs. Moralinda Paneque via telephone from Las Tunas, Cuba, by the Coalition of Cuban-American Women / LAIDA CARRO / E-mail: [log in to unmask] / FAX: 305-740-7323

Translation into English: The Coalition of Cuban-American Women / TANYA WILDER /