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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
Richard Boucher, Spokesman
Washington, DC
June 6, 2003


U.S. Concern about the Health of Cuban Dissident Martha Beatriz Roque and Other Political Prisoners

The United States is deeply concerned about the health of Cuban political prisoner Martha Beatriz Roque. We are aware of reports that the Cuban government has denied Ms. Roque the level of medical attention that she needs, and her family members in Cuba say that her health has deteriorated significantly. The Cuban government is holding Ms. Roque in complete isolation. She suffers from high blood pressure and circulatory problems, is reportedly speaking incoherently, and has lost a great deal of weight. The United States demands that the Cuban government immediately provide Ms. Roque with the level of health care she requires.

Ms. Roque, a 57-year old economist and human rights activist, is one of 75 pro-democracy advocates arrested in March 2003. She heads an umbrella organization of dissident groups created in October 2002, who have called for democracy and greater respect for fundamental freedoms. For committing the “crime” of calling for peaceful change in Cuba, Ms. Roque was sentenced to 20 years in jail on trumped up treason charges, and has also served a 3 and one half-year prison term after her arrest in July 1997.

The United States remains deeply concerned by reports that political prisoners Raul Rivero, Jose Daniel Ferrer Garcia, Jorge Olivera, Roberto de Miranda, and Oscar Espinosa Chepe are also ill. We issued a statement of concern over the deteriorating health of Mr. Espinosa Chepe on June 2, 2003, and we are deeply troubled by the Cuban government’s continued failure to grant him the medical care commensurate with his poor and failing health. Many of the 75 recently-imprisoned dissidents are being held in inhumane conditions, with very poor sanitation, contaminated water, nearly inedible food, and little or no medical treatment. The Cuban government must cease this inhumane treatment immediately, allow those who are ill to receive appropriate medical care, and permit regular visits by family members and appropriate humanitarian organizations.

 

Released on June 6, 2003

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