- Seventh family visit to Ariza Prison. Arcos is
still extremely thin. He is forced to sleep with his belongings in a bag
tied to his wrist, to prevent theft. He has not yet received any
- There is a quarrel between Arcos and common inmate Fulgencio Colina Cabezas, a.k.a. Alguacil (a so-called "excludable" who has been deported from the U.S.), after Arcos learned that Colina had stolen part of his food. Arcos is admonishe
d by the prison authorities, while the thief is granted a special family visit by way of "reward."
- Common inmates Jesus Moises Gonzalez
Gonzalez, a.k.a. El Pepillo, Fulgencio Colina, and Edilberto Aguilar steal
the rest of Arcos' food while he sleeps. Since the bag of food is tied
to his wrist, they slash it at the bottom. When Arcos discovers the
theft and reports it to Head Shift Officer Rojas, the latter does nothing
against the criminals and refuses to search the cell. The thieves had
met the day before with DSE Captain Alfredo.
Witnesses: Alberto Fernandez Diaz de Villegas and Rafael
- The Cuban government delegation to the U.N.
Human Rights Commission in Geneva presents a video film,
allegedly dated Feb. 3, 1994, showing Arcos while receiving medical
attention. This is an attempt to belie the accusatory reports made in
- News of the Ariza incident reach the CCPDH
office in Havana. Vice-President Jesus Yanez Pelletier reports the
events to foreign press agencies. In the absence of details, it is
feared that Arcos may have been attacked by the criminals.
- Relatives and friends attempt to see Arcos after
learning of the Feb. 27 events. This is prevented by the Ariza Prison authorities, who confirm the fact of the incident's happening, but assure them that Arcos has not been injured.
- Eighth family visit to Ariza Prison. Arcos confirms the February incidents, but assures the family that he came to no physical harm. Arcos new complaints submitted to Re-education Officer Captain Luis Becquer h
ave obtained no results. Another letter sent by Arcos to the prison's Chief Re-education Officer, Captain Luis Gomez, has also remained unanswered. The thieves are still in the same cell. Arcos' mail is being retained, his medication has not been deliv
ered to him, and treatment of his abscessed tooth has not been concluded. The authorities inform him that his next family visit in May has been canceled because Arcos keeps on sending out human rights violations reports from prison.
- Arcos is removed to Villa Marista to appear as a
defense witness at the trial of CCPDH executive officer Rodolfo
Gonzalez Gonzalez. In his testimony, Arcos states that all reports sent
out by Gonzalez Gonzalez concerning the poor medical attention
received by Arcos since his arrest are strictly true.
- After the trial, Arcos is taken to see his brother
Gustavo Arcos Bergnes, who has been bedridden for months from a
burn in his leg. The brothers talk in the presence of State Security
agents. Subsequently, Sebastian Arcos Bergnes is removed back to
- Arcos writes a document enumerating the thefts he has sustained since his arrival, with the names of the thieves and of the witnesses. In each case, Arcos' request to have the thieves prosecuted has not been hear
d, and he has been forced to live alongside the criminals. The promoter of the latest thefts has been common inmate Jesus Moises Gonzalez Gonzalez, a.k.a. El Pepillo. When privately confronted by Arcos, Gonzalez Gonzalez admits that he has been followin
g orders given by Captain Alfredo and Lieutenant Becquer. Gonzalez Gonzalez also confirms that the medication sent by Arcos' family is being kept in Lieutenant Becquer's office, and as proof of this gives Arcos two samples of the drugs.
- Arcos meets with Captain Alexis Perez, who
assures him that he will be able to meet with Prison Director Major
Tomas Piovet Perez the following week, to discuss the thefts and
Arcos' condition in general.
That same afternoon Arcos is brought to an office where he is met by
two police Proceedings Officers in order to file a complaint for the
theft of his property. A few minutes later, the DSE Captain known as
Alfredo comes into the room followed by a photographer, who
immediately begins to take pictures of Arcos beside the police
Proceedings Officers. Arcos refuses to give a statement with the
photographer present and leaves the room.
- Ninth family visit to Ariza Prison. Arcos'
medical attention continues to be poor. He is still waiting to meet
with the Prison Director and ask to be moved to a smaller cell, since
he prefers isolation to the company of criminals who have repeatedly
- Tenth family visit to Ariza Prison. Arcos has been moved to a different unit, dubbed by the inmates "the Gulf" (after the Persian Gulf), for its prevailing violence and terrible heat. Most of Arcos' fellow inmat
es in this new unit are young men 21 to 30 years old and serving prison terms for all types of crimes, thus increasing the potential for aggression against Arcos. Interestingly, Lieutenant Luis Becquer was also transfered to that same unit, so he is stil
l Arcos' "re-educator."
The food, health, and sanitation conditions in Ariza Prison are still
disastrous. Arcos has not yet received the dental treatment he has
been requesting for a year and a half, and concern for his health has
increased since the appearance of melanodermatitis in his back. The
dark patch on the skin is approximately 3 cms in diameter, and in
spite of its continuous growth and constant itching, the prison
authorities have not provided Arcos with any medical attention, with
the excuse that they do not have the appropriate medication.
Meanwhile, prison regulations forbid the family to bring any
A so-called "bonus visit" to which Arcos was entitled on June 2 was
been canceled. With the obvious intention of causing emotional
instability, the authorities told Arcos that his relatives had not come
to see him because they didn't want to.
Notwithstanding the fact that Arcos has served out one-half of his 4-
year-and-8-month sentence last May, the Interior Ministry
authorities have not even considered his case for conditional release
as specified by the Criminal Code currently in force.
Again Arcos makes the regime responsible for any injury to his life
and health, whether resulting from the lack of medical attention or
from any act of violence against him.
- After months of insistence, Arcos is granted an
interview by the Prison Director, to whom he reports all the thefts
and rights violations he has suffered, along with the names the
inmates and officers involved. The official takes down Arcos'
concerns and promises to resolve them.
- Eleventh family visit to Ariza Prison. After his transfer to another unit, Arcos' visiting schedule changes, and his next family visit is set for October 18.
Arcos is still locked up alongside highly dangerous common
criminals, in the unit known as "the Gulf", and he has not received
notice that his case has come up for conditional release.
Following a recent medical examination, the prison doctors have
informed Arcos that the numbness in his feet and insensitive areas
in his legs are symptoms of the disease called polyneuritis, which has
spread in Cuba during the last few years and which is mainly the
result of malnutrition. On the other hand, those same doctors state
that the melanodermatitis in his back may be a consequence of other
ailments suffered by Arcos, such as those of his gall bladder and
prostate gland, his vitamin deficiency, and the constant stress in
which he is forced to exist. Moreover, he still suffers from high blood
pressure, sinusitis, and arm and leg pains, especially in his left leg.
Two of his three damaged back teeth have been treated, and he has
been prescribed a daily dose of aspirin for his blood circulation and
for the heart.
Arcos' family submit letters arguing his case before the Ministry of
Justice, the Board of Jails and Prisons, and the Council of State. Only
the Council of State and the Ministry of Justice have signed
acknowledgments of receipt.
- Arcos makes a formal complaint before a
National Police Proceedings Captain called Lazaro, who agrees to
return with official complaint forms, but never comes back.
- Twelfth family visit to Ariza Prison. Arcos is
still housed in the unit called "the Gulf" alongside dangerous common
criminals, although his property has not been stolen again. His
former "re-educator" has been replaced by another.
The polyneuritis diagnosed two months ago has started to develop.
By way of treatment he has received several B-complex shots, and it
has been recommended that he work outdoors on a tomato patch, so
he can walk and get some sun. Arcos advises the authorities that he
has agreed to work outdoors as part of his medical treatment but
refuses to make any political concession whatever. He has also
stated that the moment he shows up in a video working in the field,
he will immediately stop going outside to work.
It is not clear whether the improvement in Arcos' condition are due
to the forthcoming November visit to Cuba of the High U.N.
Commissioner for Human Rights, to pressure by governments such as
that of Spain, or to the fact that he is now on the short list of
candidates to the Andrei Sajarov Award given by the European
The DEA officer known as Aristides comes to see Arcos again and
renews the offer of immediate release if he will agree to leave Cuba
for Spain or Chile. Arcos flatly refuses the new offer and reaffirms
his position of not accepting freedom in exchange for exile.
There is still no answer from the authorities to the legal steps taken
by the family to obtain Arcos' conditional release, to which he has
been entitled since May 1994.
- Special "bonus" visit in which relatives are
allowed to bring only food for the inmates. Arcos' condition remains
stable. His bag of food has not been stolen again, and medical
treatment of his polyneuritis continues with multivitamin pills.
Arcos prefers not to be administered shots because he does not trust
the authorities. He is still working out on the field. His next regular
visit is set for Dec. 16.
- Thirteenth family visit to Ariza Prison. Arcos still suffers from leg cramps and numbness in the tips of his hands and toes. He also shows symptoms of prostatitis (hypertrophy of the prostate gland), which obst
ructs urination. Medical treatment continues with multivitamin pills, and outdoor work proceeds. Prison authorities are allowing the family to bring him vitamins. His general condition remains stable. There is still no answer to the motion for conditi
onal release, to which he has been entitled since May 1994. He is also entitled to another "bonus" visit next December
- In a note dated Jan. 15, 1995, exactly 3 years
from his arrest, Arcos reports that on Friday Jan. 15, 1995, he was
visited by the DSE agents called Nelson and Aristides, who attempted
to persuade him to travel to Havana to see his brother Gustavo Arcos
Bergnes, General Secretary of the CCPDH, who has been suffering for
months from a prostate ailment.
According to these officers, Arcos would be allowed to see his
brother "wherever he wished, at whatever house he chose, without
time constraints, and with assurance of safety for his belongings back
at the prison." (Arcos had been removed to Havana in March 1994 to
testify for the defense at the trial of Rodolfo Gonzalez Gonzalez. Upon
returning to Ariza, he found that his belongings had been stolen
again. See 03/38/1994.)
Suspecting a scheme, Arcos flatly refuses the offer and states that he
will wait for his next family visit on Feb. 16 to learn of his brother's
health. The DSE officers insist, saying that this would take too long,
that he should travel to Havana before that. This confirms Arcos'
suspicions, since the U.N. Human Rights Commission will be meeting
around that date. (See 02/28/1994.)
- Fourteenth family visit to Ariza Prison. Arcos is
still suffering from polyneuritis, with arm and leg cramps,
particularly severe in his right arm. Symptoms of prostatitis have
increased. Prison rations are meager and poor in protein content,
with cabbage as the basic food.
- In a letter sent to the U.N. High Commissioner
for Human Rights and to the U.N. Human Rights Commission, Arcos
denounces the impunity enjoyed by the criminals who have stolen
his belongings on eight different occasions, months after proceedings
have been formally opened in the case. (See 04/29/1994 and
In this same letter, Arcos reports that the neuritis diagnosed in
August 1994 by the prison's Medical Board has become worse
instead of improving, in spite of vitamin treatment and daily outdoor
Arcos also reports to the High Commissioner that, in Dec. 1994, the
Prison Executive Board has denied him all the benefits to which he is
entitled by law, namely:
1. Reduction of his sentence by 36 days for every year
2. Right of removal to a minimum security prison
(correctional institution). This right has been denied
to him two times in a row -- June 1994 and Jan. 1995.
3. Conditional release, to which he has been entitled since
having served one-half of his sentence (May 1994).
A press release published by EFE News Agency on March 28,1995,
reproduces a statement by the present Attorney General of the
Republic of Cuba, Mr. Juan Escalona Reguera, in which he asserts:
"...in Cuba, conditional release is granted to convicts after having
served out one-half their sentences with good behavior and by
decision of the prison institutions."
- "Bonus" family visit to Ariza Prison. Arm and
leg cramps persist, as well as numbness in the tips of fingers and
toes. Arcos is having trouble with vision after sundown. At his
insistence, the authorities have brought in two doctors who deny that
he suffers from polyneuritis and who prescribe eyeglasses and
medication for muscular pain.
Dr. Valverde, former Head of the Prison Medical Board, who
originally diagnosed polyneuritis in Aug. 1994, assures Arcos'
relatives that he actually does suffer from the disease.
- Mr. Jose Miguel Vivanco, Executive Director of
Human Rights Watch/Americas, who is visiting Cuba as part of a
delegation from four different human rights organizations, meets
with the General Secretary of the CCPDH, Mr. Gustavo Arcos Bergnes.
At this meeting, Mr. Vivanco confirmed the fact that the delegation
had come to visit Sebastian Arcos Bergnes in Ariza Prison. Dr. Pierre
Micheletti, a member of the delegation representing the organization
Doctors of the World, gave Arcos a medical exam and concluded that
the latter was suffering from polyneuritis, and that he had received
no treatment whatever for prostatitis, or undergone a medical
checkup since 1992.
In a preliminary report issued that same day in Havana, the
Verification Committee requests the release, among others, of
Sebastian Arcos Bergnes for medical and humanitarian reasons.
- In a press release, the Foundation France
Liberté announces in Paris that the Cuban government has agreed to
release a group of 6 political prisoners, among whom is Sebastian
Arcos Bergnes. The announcement was made to France Liberté in a
personal letter addressed by Fidel Castro to Mme. Mitterrand.
- While working in the prison vegetable patch at
Ariza, Arcos hears the news of his release from relatives of other
- Four days after the announcement made by
France Liberté, none of the political prisoners involved has been
released as yet. A letter sent to this organization by the Cuban
Ambassador in Paris, plus the fact that political prisoner Yndamiro
Restano is in Villa Marista, give rise to the suspicion that the Cuban
government is planning to force the prisoners to leave Cuba.
- The Cuban government confirms that the six
political prisoners will be released unconditionally, but does not say
- The Director of Ariza Prison informs Sebastian
Arcos Bergnes that he is being removed to Havana. As Arcos is
preparing for what he believes to be a removal to Villa Marista, he is
advised by the Director that he is to be driven directly home. At
7:20 p.m. that evening, Arcos arrives at his home in Reparto Aldabo,