Ladies in White

Dolia Leal Francisco, Lady in White

Havana, Cuba. July 3, 2008.

To:His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI
Presidents and Heads of Democratic States
United Nations Secretary General
Human Rights Organizations and Institutions
International Red Cross
National and International Public Opinion

I, Dolia Leal Francisco, 63 years old and a co-founder of the Damas de
Blanco (Ladies in White); wife of NELSON AGUIAR RAMÍREZ, a prisoner of
conscience of the Group of the 75 since March of 2003, make an URGENT
APPEAL on behalf of my husband who's life is presently in grave danger.

Yesterday, my husband informed me during a visit that on the
first day of the present month of July he was unexpectedly transferred
from the small of the Combinado del Este Prison in Havana, to a
prison barrack that holds 184 common prisoners. Inside this barrack he
is locked up in a small humid cell that has its floors continuously
inundated with water due to the extensive leaks throughout the walls.
This situation is worsening the asthma my husband suffers.

This prison cell is a sort of sealed box that only has limited
ventilation coming through the barred door. It lacks a toilet and Nelson
is supposed to go to the bathroom in a hole on the floor but, because he
is unable to squat, he must go in a wooden box. In one word: my husband
is enduring horrible conditions. Nelson Aguiar Ramírez is buried alive,
evidence that they (Cuban authorities) want to eliminate him.

My husband's three year stay at the hospital of the Combinado del Este
Prison was due to the critical state of he is in: both operations
of a hiatal hernia have been unsuccessful surgeries as a consequence of
his weak muscle tissues that, according to the doctors, do not permit a
third operation. An internal portion of the incision has not closed and
is only protected by a small gauze dressing. For the rest of his life,
Nelson will be unable to lift any weight, bend over from the waist, or
squat, etc.

During my entire two hour prison visit Nelson was congested, had trouble
breathing, was coughing very hard, and was constantly using the asthma
inhaler. As he coughed he had to hold on to his abdomen since he is
afraid that the organs in his abdominal cavity might protrude as it has
happened before. Even though he takes the proper precautions, my husband
has constant pain in the mentioned abdominal area where the surgery
remains open.

Besides this very serious condition, the following pathologies (among
others) are noted in his medical record:

– Advanced Degenerative Arthropathy
– Herniated Disks: L3, L4 and L4, L5
– Chronic Hypertension
– Profound Venous Insufficiency
– Stage 1 Prostatic Hyperplasia with Calcification
– Fatty Liver

Because of the arthropathy, Nelson frequently loses his balance and
suffers from vertigo. As a result, he fractured his left arm and
dislocated his shoulder. He suffers from severe pain from two herniated
discs that incapacitate his movements at times, reason he fears he will
become paralyzed. (This is all the result of spending 18 months isolated
in a very small and humid punishment cell without being able to walk or
go outside in the sunlight.)

It is beyond my understanding the reason for all this horror, as well as
for the punishment and brutal treatment towards Nelson who is so
helpless and sick. It all appears to be in retaliation for my open
activism: on April 21, 2008, I participated in an act of protest staged
by ten Ladies in White at Revolution Square to demand the of all
Cuban political prisoners.

I must point out that after his second operation, the Medical Commission
determined that Nelson was not physically fit to withstand the prison
regime. The political that controls my husband's case has ignored
this medical report and has confiscated his medical record. To keep
NELSON AGUIAR RAMÍREZ incarcerated is to condemn him to a slow death in
prison where there is no hope for him.

That is why I ask your help to save my husband's life. Please petition
the Cuban government to grant Nelson a temporary permission to be
released from prison for health reasons (Licencia Extrapenal).

Respectfully yours,

Dolia Leal Francisco,
Lady in White,
2005 Sajarov Prize by the European Parliament

Calle 28, N° 157, Apto. 15, entre 17 y 19,
Vedado, municipio de Plaza, Ciudad Habana, Cuba

Letter sent by Dolia Leal from Havana, Cuba to the Coalition of
Cuban-American Women in the USA ( . Translation to
English by the Coalition of Cuban-American Women.

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