Read and understand why so many praying and working for Cuba's freedom have placed their hope in him.
Simply put, the man is a giant and a hero.
Havana – Locked up in a minuscule prison cell in total and perpetual darkness, the only sound he could hear was the echo of his thoughts and the murmur of his prayers. He did not have the faintest idea of how much time had passed since he had last been able to see the light of the sun.
The last time he was taken out of such isolation – consumed, infinitely filthy, and on the brink of death – Dr. Oscar Elias Biscet found out the punishment had lasted a little over five months; a nightmare where not even surrender was an alternative.
Not many years have passed since then, and Dr. Biscet continues to recover physically and psychologically at his home in this city where he battles against ghosts with the same courage that – since the late 80s – characterizes his struggle against the Cuban government. He is an emblematic figure in the opposition, and a member of the famous “Group of 75,” who in the spring of 2003 were arrested and subjected to summary trials. They were released last March through the mediation of the Catholic Church, and with great international pressure as a backdrop.
How did this perception begin to change?
As I got older, I began to notice, for example, the way people were being persecuted for things such as religion… I remember this because I had some friends that were Jehovah’s Witnesses, and their families suffered much. Later, towards the late 80s, I wasn’t older than 17 when they showed me that Cuba had a military to defend the country. However, my friends and I also found out that this military was fighting in other countries, in wars that had nothing to do with our own security… After time, it proved to be correct…
What brought about your affiliation with the opposition?
From before the fall of the Soviet Union, I knew that something was going on in the communist world thanks to clandestine writings. Nothing official, but it was reliable information nevertheless. All of this took place while I was studying medicine. Through that channel, my friends and I began to notice that something was brewing. Little by little, we began to organize ourselves informally to meet and talk about this, until the beginning of the 90s when my militancy in these anti-establishment groups became too noticeable.
How do you remember the last eight years [in prison]?
I was mistreated very often. I was tortured. One of the tortures used in the Cuban prisons is solitary confinement in miniscule dungeons, which are totally isolated and dark. They held me there once for five uninterrupted months, without coming out for even one second. I'd have to relieve myself right there, next to the water I drank and the little food I received once a day, barely enough to keep me alive.
What other type of torture were you subjected to?
They would lock me up with mental patients who they would deprive of their medication, in order to make them go crazier. There were known cases of these patients killing those near them in their sleep. I remember it now and it still feels like a nightmare. They would also commonly handcuff men to their hands and feet, thrown face down on the floor for 24 or 48 straight hours… and electric shocks to the genitals.