Vladimir Morera Bacallao
The U.S. State Department this week elevated the status of Cuban Political Prisoner Vladimir Morera Bacallo, who has been on hunger strike for more than 75 days, when Tom Malinowski, the assistant secretary for democracy, human rights and labor tweeted he was concerned about Morera's condition. The statement was then retweeted on the State Department's main account.
Concerned by reports about the condition of Vladimir Morera Bacallao, imprisoned in #Cuba for exercising his right to free expression.— Tom Malinowski (@Malinowski) December 24, 2015
What remains unknown is how or even whether the State Department will use its re-opened embassy in Havana to push for action by the Castro dictatorship to save the life of Morera, who earlier this year was one of the 53 political prisoners released as part of the deal to normalize relations between the United States and Cuba. As evidenced by his current plight, Morera, like many others of those released, has since been re-arrested and imprisoned.
Morera, an activist with the Cuban Reflection Movement in November was sentenced to 4 years in prison on charges of "public disorder" and "injuries." The case stemmed from an incident in April when Morera painted a message on his door to protest local "elections" in Cuba: "I vote for my freedom, not in elections where I cannot elect my president."
Cuban police and other goons responded by breaking into Morera's house and arrested, an intrusion for which Morera took all the blame.
The circumstances were similar to an incident 2013, after which Morera was sentenced to 8 years in prison.
At the time of his sentencing on Nov. 18, Morera had already been on hunger strike for 40 days, a protest he continued into Christmastime, at great risk to his life.
Diario de Cuba has the latest:
Political Prisoner Vladimir Morera Bacallao was admitted, in serious condition, to the Hospital Arnaldo Milian de Santa Clara on Monday night, confirmed his wife, Maribel Herrera, for DIARIO DE CUBA. Morera, who is in intensive care, has been on a hunger strike for 74 days, and his family fears for his life.
During his transfer from prison to the hospital he apparently coughed up blood eight times, the medical team informed his family, and it is believed that "at any moment he could develop gastrointentestinal bleeding."
"He is very weak and feeble, weighs about 45 kilos (99 pounds), but has not abandoned his hunger strike. He eats nothing, drinks little water, and refuses to bet set up with an IV," explained Herrera.
The protestor seems also seems to be experiencing vision problems.
Each political prisoner in the Castro gulag is evidence of the true nature of the regime, and they must all be released before you can even start to believe the dictatorship has "changed."
The United States should use its "new relationship" with the Cuban dictatorship to advocate for all of them to be released, especially those like Morera who were used as convenient props to help sell the Obama-Castro deal. What little credibility the U.S. government has when it comes to Cuba, especially with many dissidents who lament how little the U.S. says and does about human rights on the island, is at risk.
And for Morera's sake, it needs to happen fast.