A report by a slave who makes coal in Cuba

To whom it may concern

I Arturo Pérez Vegas, 36, am a neighbor at calle 12, Reparto Vázquez, municipio Manzanillo. I am on a pass and am doing three years as “dangerous” at La Ganja Eucalipto, which is at the Bayamo exit on the Vado de Yeso highway. Las Tunas is more than 20 km. Away.

We, the prisoners work very hard producing coal, having to put out a ton to be able to go out on a pass. We have no medical assistance, when we are sick there is no medicine, because the incoming medicine goes out to be clandestinely sold by the chiefs. They take you to the hospital when you are dying. They say health is free in Cuba, but it is so for the prison’s owners. Maj. Figueredo abuses us prisoners, he abuses us, beats us, threatens us, and we fear him because of all those things.

The prison is divided into two groups, one right here and the other in El Marabú, where they classify the coal when it is ready. They tell us that they take it to an port for export to Canada, but we do not even see, even in food, the money they receive from that sale. That goes to their pocket. It is the payment we earn working hard with the coal so we receive a pass to see our families. Food is very bad, it barely has salt, nob grease, occasionally a small piece of bread. The passes, according to the regime, are monthly.

Compared with the common prisoners, they treat us badly, since our benefits are delayed. The first pass is issued after six months, and after that every two months. The common prisoners receive it three months after, and then on a monthly basis. Common prisoners have more benefits. Although we have committed no crime, our freedom is also delayed. It is not when we serve the sentences but when another prisoner from another prison replaces us.

They do that so we continue working with coal, because no Cuban works at Marabú if it is not this way. If our release is in a year, they implement it in a year and five months, to exploit and humiliate us more.

I hope this way you can learn some more about things that happen in prisons. With nothing further, Arturo Pérez Vegas.

By María del Carmen Guisado Cisneros, CID delegate in Manzanillo, and Defensora del Pueblo (People’s Defender).

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