Tags: The | Man | Who | Won't | Shut

The Man Who Won't Shut Up

Sunday, 24 November 2002 12:00 AM

Prison breaks some dissidents. Isolation from loved ones and other traumas often deter the pursuit of justice.

Dr. Oscar Elias Biscet isn’t broken.

At 5:30 a.m. on Oct. 31, 2002, Cuba released the 41-year-old black physician and president of the Lawton Foundation for Human Rights. Dr. Biscet had been torn from his family and friends since Nov. 3, 1999, for "public disorder," "instigation to commit a crime" and "insult to the symbols of the homeland." The regime had previously detained him over 25 times, dispossessed his vocation and his wife’s vocation (nursing) and evicted his family from their home.

What was his real crime? Patriotism, the inability to accept his homeland’s degradation by tyranny.

Fidel Castro derided Biscet as a "little crazy man," exemplifying the Soviet temperament where disagreement equals madness. It’s not for nothing that Castro praises Lenin and Stalin.

Biscet’s captors placed him with common criminals in a maximum-security prison over 400 miles from his family. They inflicted over 40 days of solitary confinement. Knowing his faith, they deprived him of his Bible.

Biscet has lost teeth and looks paler, but he’s stronger than ever.

On the evening of his release Biscet and his wife arrived at his mother’s house in Havana. Biscet made a "V" with his right hand and declared with a smile, "Victory!"

Four days later he held a press conference on prison conditions and noted the impossibility of a free Cuba under Castro. "So long as the dictatorship of communist Castro exists, we Cubans cannot live in liberty and democracy, and violations of human rights will continue," he said.

Biscet also issued a call for international solidarity: "I ask the democratic governments of the world, the people who love justice and liberty, to support the Cuban people and not the government of this island, which usurped power and betrayed the people, dishonoring them."

Biscet is no fool. He knows these words risk a return to prison.

He could be arrested for "disrespect," which criminalizes a Cuban who "threatens, slanders, defames, insults, harms or in any way outrages or offends, verbally or in writing, the dignity or honor of an authority, public official, or their agents or auxiliaries." (Independent journalist Bernardo Arévalo Padrón has been imprisoned since 1997 for criticizing Castro and "Vice President” Carlos Lage in an interview with an American radio program.)

Or Castro’s henchmen could arrest him for "enemy propaganda," which includes "anyone who incites against the social order, international solidarity or the socialist state by means of verbal, written or any other kind of propaganda, or who makes, distributes or possesses such propaganda." (Jorge Luis Garcia Perez was arrested in 1990 for oral enemy propaganda when he said Cuba should adopt reforms occurring in Eastern Europe. He remains in prison.)

Biscet has refused to go into exile, but if he wants to give a speech abroad he can’t leave Cuba without permission. Like a slave on a plantation, he needs a pass to move his body from one place to another.

The abolitionist Frederick Douglass observed that "It is just as criminal to rob a man of his right to speak and hear as it would be to rob him of his money." He also affirmed, "It is a fundamental truth that every man is the rightful owner of his own body."

Castro and his accomplices have robbed Cubans of their most precious property for almost 44 years. Oscar Biscet heroically continues to highlight this crime, and that's why Castro hates him.

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Prison breaks some dissidents.Isolation from loved ones and other traumas often deter the pursuit of justice. Dr. Oscar Elias Biscet isn't broken. At 5:30 a.m. on Oct. 31, 2002, Cuba released the 41-year-old black physician and president of the Lawton Foundation for Human...
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2002-00-24
Sunday, 24 November 2002 12:00 AM
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