Cuban independent journalist Calixto Ramon Martinez, in jail since Sept. 16, has started a hunger strike to protest poor living conditions and other mistreatment he has suffered since being transferred this past Saturday at el Combinando del Este in Havana.
When Martinez arrived at the prison, guards confiscated his civilian clothes and threw him into a small, overcrowded cell with about 35 other inmates. The cell, which is about 42 feet long and 20 feet, has only a single double-sink and two holes in the ground for a toilet.
"The conditions in this prison are totally appalling, it should be declared uninhabitable," Martinez said in a telephone conversation with Roberto Guerra, Martinez's boss at the CIHPRESS news agency.
Martinez was able to use the prison phone, even though prison officials had said he was to be barred from making calls.
Martinez said he would continue with his protest until he gets his clothes back.
Martinez faces up to three years in prison on a charge of "disrespecting the figures of Fidel and Raul Castro" -after he was arrested Sept. 16 at Jose Marti International Airport.
Martinez, 42, a correspondent with the CIHPRESS news agency, had gone to the airport to investigate the condition of several tons of medications and medical equipment donated by the World Health Organizationn that somehow had ruined.
Martinez, who has been detained numerous times before, earlier this summer broke the story about an outbreak of cholera and dengue on the island.
Under the Cuban penal code, a charge of "disrespect" carries a punishment of up to 3 years in prison. The dictatorship frequently uses the charge to target its political opponents.