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 You are in: Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs > Bureau of Public Affairs > Bureau of Public Affairs: Press Relations Office > Press Releases (Other) > 2003 > June
Press Statement
Philip T. Reeker, Deputy Spokesman
Washington, DC
June 2, 2003


U.S. Concern About the Health of Oscar Espinosa Chepe and Other Political Prisoners

The United States is deeply concerned over the Cuban government’s treatment of Cuban political prisoner Oscar Espinosa Chepe. According to his wife and other family members, Mr. Chepe may die if he is not transferred immediately from prison hospital to a better facility in Havana. This Cuban political prisoner is suffering from liver disease, edema, gastrointestinal bleeding, and other symptoms indicating a serious medical condition. The United States demands that the Cuban government provide Mr. Chepe with adequate health care and transfer him to a hospital where he can receive the level of care commensurate with his illness.

Mr. Chepe is a 62-year old independent journalist, and is one of 75 independent activists, journalists, and librarians arrested and sentenced to long jail terms in March 2003. He was arrested and sentenced to prison for 20 years on trumped up treason charges. His only real crime was to call for peaceful change in Cuba. Mr. Chepe and all 75 of these political prisoners should be released immediately.

The United States is also concerned by reports that political prisoners Raul Rivero, Martha Beatriz Roque, Jorge Olivera, and Roberto de Miranda are also ill. All should be given immediate access to adequate health care. Many of the 75 prisoners are being held in inhumane conditions, with very poor sanitation, contaminated water, and nearly inedible food. The Cuban government appears to be going out of its way to treat these prisoners inhumanely. It should immediately cease this practice and, at the minimum, allow the appropriate humanitarian organizations to monitor the treatment of its political prisoners.

Released on June 2, 2003

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