Saturday, April 23, 2011

Dr. Óscar Biscet, in Cuba's prisons for twelve years, speaks

Dr. Óscar Biscet, in Cuba's prisons for twelve years, speaks
News on the Net Friday, April 22, 2011
By Jay Nordlinger

'I NEED to get to work," says Dr. Óscar Elías Biscet. Are you familiar
with him? He is perhaps the foremost Cuban democracy activist, a symbol
of the general resistance to the Castro dictatorship. Has he been
neglecting his work? Not exactly. For the past twelve years,
essentially, he has been in prison, suffering the things that the
regime's prisoners have always suffered. George W. Bush gave him the
Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2007. The recipient could not accept it
in person, of course. But he has now been released from prison. The day,
so long hoped for, by so many of us, was March 11. I spoke to him three
weeks after.

Biscet was born in 1961 and has a wife, Elsa Morejón Hernández, and two
children, Winnie and Yan. The children have been in the United States
for several years; Elsa, like her husband, is in Cuba. Biscet obtained
his degree in internal medicine in 1985. A few years later, he embarked
on human-rights activism. In 1994, he was charged with "dangerousness,"
a very common charge. It means that the individual in question will not
submit meekly to dictatorial rule. In 1997, Biscet established the
Lawton Foundation for Human Rights ("Lawton" being the name of the
Havana neighborhood in which he lived). The organization, of course, is
banned. In 1998, he spoke out strongly against abortion, particularly
late-term abortion: In his work as a doctor, he saw ghastly things. The
authorities responded harshly to his protest.

After being detained repeatedly — 26 times — Biscet was arrested in 1999
and thrown in prison for three years. He was released on October 31,
2002, and had 36 days outside of prison. During this time, he worked on
his "Democratic Principles for Cuba" and a civic project called "Club
for Friends of Human Rights." He was again arrested on December 6, 2002,
and underwent his ordeal until last March 11.

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