FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
OCTOBER 26, 2017
VICTIMS OF COMMUNISM MEMORIAL FOUNDATION DEMANDS RELEASE OF CUBAN POLITICAL PRISONER DANIEL LLORENTE FROM DETENTION IN MENTAL INSTITUTION
We call on the world to condemn Cuba’s use of Soviet-style punitive psychiatry
Cuban dissident Daniel Llorente is being held without legal charges in Havana’s notorious Mazorra mental institution. He was arrested on May 1, 2017, on a charge of “public disorder” for the crime of running with a United States flag during the annual May Day parades. Those charges were later dismissed, yet Llorente remains imprisoned with no knowledge of his legal status or the specific charges (if any) being brought against him.
Llorente has been cycled through various mental and psychiatric institutions since June 2017, when he was first committed for the “mental disorder” of believing in God, according to his son Eliécer. Now, he has been transferred to Mazorra—the largest psychiatric hospital in Cuba, and one known since at least 1988 to be a center for politically-motivated psychiatric evaluations and confinement. Many other prominent Cuban dissidents, including Dr. Óscar Elías Biscet and the blind activist Milagros Cruz Cano, have also spent time being “evaluated” at Mazorra.
Our Executive Director Marion Smith offered the following statement: “It is appalling that the communist dictatorship of Cuba is able to replicate the most barbaric repressive practices of the Soviet Union and still be viewed as ‘reformers’ by the world. In the twenty-first century, we have an obligation to condemn the practices of punitive psychiatry and incarceration without charge.”
He added: “Daniel Llorente was arrested, beaten, choked, and imprisoned for the crime of waving a US flag in a communist dictatorship. He called the United States ‘the greatest defender of human rights, hope, freedom, justice, brotherhood and the pursuit of happiness’—these ideals are not just American, they are universal, and it is our duty as a nation to stand up for the rights of this brave dissident who stood up for America.”
For more information or to schedule an interview with Marion Smith, VOC Executive Director, please contact Frank Schembari at [email protected] or 703-490-8845.