EXTERNAL (for general distribution) AI Index: AMR 25/11/93
UA 347/93 Prisoner of Conscience/Enforced Exile/ 1 October 1993
CUBA: Sebastián ARCOS BERGNES, Vice-President of the Comité
Cubano Pro Derechos Humanos,
Cuban Committee for Human Rights
Amnesty International has received reports that prisoner of conscience
Sebastián Arcos Bergnes is being subjected to pressure from the Cuban
authorities to accept exile in return for his early release. His state of health
is said to be poor and he is reportedly not receiving medical attention.
Sebastián Arcos Bergnes is the Vice-President of the unofficial Comité Cubano
Pro Derechos Humanos (CCPDH), Cuban Committee for Human Rights. He was arrested
on 15 January 1992 and sentenced in October 1992 to four years eight months
imprisonment for "enemy propaganda" on the grounds that he had "sent abroad
false reports of human rights violations by the Cuban authorities which were
used in campaigns of defamation against Cuba promoted by the United States".
Arcos, who is in his early 60s, is currently held in Ariza Prison, Cienfuegos
and is permitted to receive visits only every two or three months. He received
a family visit on 20 September and was found to be extremely thin. Previous
reports indicated that he had lost 20-30 lbs in weight while in detention.
He suffers from an oedema in both legs and has blood pressure problems. He
has also been suffering from a gum abscess and has a chronic sinus condition
for which he has been refused medical treatment.
Over the past two or three months Arcos is said to have been put under pressure
to accept exile abroad in exchange for his liberty, an offer which he has
reportedly rejected. According to reports, this pressure has consisted of
threats to cancel family visits, to prolong his sentence and to take reprisals
against members of his family. The visit he was due to have in July was suspended
apparently on the grounds that he had been responsible for smuggling reports
of human rights violations out of the prison.
Amnesty International considers Sebastián Arcos Bergnes to be a prisoner of
conscience imprisoned solely because of his peaceful activities in defence
of human rights and believes that he should be released immediately and without
condition. Amnesty International opposes enforced exile in all cases.
Amnesty International believes that there are as many as five or six hundred
prisoners of conscience imprisoned in Cuba at present for their peaceful
political and human rights activities. A number of them have been released