Friday, December 3

“I don’t know if my father is alive or dead”


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«My mother, Sonia Álvarez, and I have just arrived from the Combinado del Sur Prison in Matanzas with more doubts and much more anguished: a young man who appeared – as if pulled from a parachute – told me that he is fine. Well, a man who has been on a hunger strike for 10 days today, convalescing from Covid and diabetic? It is a macabre mockery of the G2, the Cuban State Security ». This is how his only daughter tells ABC the umpteenth episode of the ordeal of Cuban dissident Félix Navarro, the activist Sayli Navarro. Just yesterday, Navarro’s wife and daughter received the news, for sure, that Navarro was in poor health and that they had him in the prison’s infirmary. They didn’t let us see it. Not a phone call so far. In other words, we do not know if he is alive or has been left to die. We are consumed by worry and anguish. That is why he uses the word macabre to describe not only the cynical attitude of the prison employee, but also the succession of events that have taken place since on July 12, the day after the popular outbreak in Cuba, Navarro was arrested at his home in Perico, municipality of the Province of Matanzas, and later imprisoned.

The wife and daughter spoke with him for the last time on August 17, six days before the start of his hunger strike. “On Thursday the 26th a prisoner who was released called us – and who shared an infirmary with my father – and told us that he was standing up, consuming only water and something weak. From July 24 we started calling the last number my dad called us a week before and when it rings no one answers. This week we called the Provincial Unit for Crimes against State Security and they informed us that it was the prison in charge of informing us. One of the few reliable information they have received in recent days was on September 1 when Leylandis Puentes Vargas, an activist from the Boitel (the dissident party to which Navarro belongs) also held in the Southern Combined Prison, told them that I had met some inmates who Felix was in a delicate state of health, from the prison infirmary.

In addition to the Covid -from which he is recovering-, Navarro was admitted to the Military Hospital for 23 days where, according to his daughter, he presented a tracheo-bronchial picture and they had to assist him with aerosols, supported with oxygen, change of antibiotics, administration of slow and fast insulin, leaving a lesion in the left lung. Navarro, 68 years old, is one of the main dissidents of Castroism: After a first 20-month stay behind bars in the 1990s, he was sentenced to 25 years in prison after being arrested – along with 74 activists – in the ‘Black Spring’ of 2003. He served eight until his release in 2011. Since then, he and his family suffer constant harassment from State Security.

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