Pope Francis' man in Havana, Cardinal Jaime Ortega, claims there remain no political prisoners in Castro's jails.
Osvaldo Rodriguez Acosta, whose family has paid a high price for their opposition to the dictatorship, begs to differ, and does just that in a letter sent to the pope on the eve of his upcoming visit to the island.
Rodriguez, his son and his wife were arrested in 2012 on trumped-up charges after police raided their home. In 2013, Rodriguez was sentenced to 9 years; his son Osvaldo Rodriguez Castillo got 7 years; and his wife, Juana Castillo was sentenced to 5 years of correctional labor.
Via Babalu Blog, here's an English translation of Rodriguez's letter to Pope Francis:
To His Holiness Pope Francis
First of all I would like to convey my highest respect and admiration and to wish you God’s blessings throughout your whole tenure as pontiff.
My name is Osvaldo Rodríguez Acosta and the purpose of this letter is to let you know that there are indeed political prisoners in Cuba, and that I am one of them, and am confined in Quivicán Prison.
I will begin by informing you that on September 23, 2012, I and my family were victims of an illegal police attack in our own home. This attack was led by Alberto Álvarez Rivero, a lieutenant colonel of the political police known as State Security, who destroyed the door to my house and entered it, in violation of the law, including article 56 of the Constitution of our Republic, which declares everyone’s home inviolable.
Alberto Álvarez Rivero was assisted by several policemen who immediately began to attack all of us who were there: me and my wife Juana Castillo Acosta and my two sons, Osvaldo, who is twenty-five years old, and Christian, who is twelve. While they were carrying out this arbitrary attack, Alberto Álvarez Rivero launched into a rabidly aggressive assault on my wife and my youngest son, who were beaten without mercy and left unconscious on the floor, along with me and my oldest son.
Afterwards, we were taken by other military personnel to the municipality of San José de las Lajas, where three of us were imprisoned for more tan three months without any contact with the outside world. My youngest son was placed in the care of my mother after the assault on our house.
In March 2013, at the provincial Popular Tribunal of Mayabeque, in a trial manipulated by the political pólice, we were unjustly condemned. My wife was sentenced to five years of correctional labor. My oldest son was sentenced to seven years in prison, and I was sentenced to nine. We were all found guilty of violent behavior, an ironically reversed charge the Castro regime levels routinely against those dissidents who are the victims of its violence.
I have been tortured four times in prison. The torturing has been carried out with impunity by Norge Biscet, Aroidi Lores Rodríguez, Silva y Giovanni, all of them military personnel, but the Military Prosecutor refuses to bring them to trial, despite the fact that there is ample evidence to condemn them, including documents that describe the wounds inflicted on me.
My youngest son Christian has been psychologically traumatized to such an extent by this experience that he has not been able to attend school since 2012. He lives in constant fear of being attacked again and is in desperate need of being reunited with his family and of overcoming his trauma.
Your Excellency, may Our Lord allow you to expose the injustices to which we are subjected and to demand that we be freed immediately, especially because we have not committed any crime. I and my family thank you in advance for any effort you may make toward freeing us.