Dr. Oscar Elias Biscet, is a 39 year-old Afro-Cuban physician, a spiritual man and a follower of the philosophies of Thoreau, Ghandi and Martin Luther King Jr. This human rights activist was unjustly sentenced to three years in prison on February 26 of this year for the crime of flying the Cuban flag upside down (an internationally recognized symbol of distress) as a way of protesting the human rights abuses in Cuba.
As head of the Lawton Foundation, a human rights group considered an illegal organization in Cuba, he was charged with "insulting symbols of the fatherland", "public disorder" and "instigation to commit crime". He is currently serving his sentence at the notorious "Cuba Si'' prison in Cuba's Holguin province, on the eastern side of island, making it extremely difficult for his family to visit him from Havana. Dr. Biscet has been beaten, repeatedly threatened, humiliated, blackmailed, subjected to brutal interrogations and thrown into cells with insane convicts and common criminals.
As a non-violent activist struggling to bring about democracy, justice and freedom to Cuba, Dr. Biscet embodies all the dreams, hopes and frustrations of 11 million Cubans in the island. As its victim, he represents everything that is horribly wrong with the 41 year old tyrannical regime of the dictator Fidel Castro.
By using non-violent means to expose the crimes of the government of Cuba, and by being a young, charismatic black man he threatens to demystify all the lies of the revolution of 1959. For this he has been singled out; and when dictator Fidel Castro personally condemned Biscet as a counter-revolutionary "ringleader'' before his trial, his fate was sealed.
Why is Castro threatened by Dr. Biscet? Because Castro's revolution was supposed to make a "New Man". It was supposed to free the blacks of Cuba from discrimination and oppression. It was supposed to create a new generation of Cubans who would espouse the communistic ideals for a better world. Afro-Cubans are supposed to be grateful to the "man" for bringing about
equality. Dr. Biscet proves that the revolution failed. The revolution has created a generation of disaffected young people who are clamoring for freedom and the right to choose their destinies. It has created a generation who is willing to risk their lives by fleeing the oppressive state of Cuba in makeshift rafts. And it has created a generation of men and women who are willing to risk going to jail in their efforts to bring about changes in Cuba.
Before his sentence Dr. Biscet had been arbitrarily detained 26 times in 18 months. On February 1998 he was expelled from the Cuban National Health System and he and his family were evicted from his home. On several occasions, Cuba's State Security tried to subject Dr. Biscet to psychiatric examinations and pressured him to leave Cuba, to which he has reiterated that
he will never abandon his country. He knows that the struggle is in Cuba and that in order to bring about change, one has to stay and fight from the inside.
Dr. Biscet has continued his fight for justice from prison. He has staged protests against Cuba's violation of human rights at the prison with acts of civil disobedience, such as fasting and holding prayer services. Consequently, he was punished by being locked up in solitary confinement for
42 days in an unlit cell. He has lost 20 pounds and suffered from a serious gum infection that went untreated and caused three of his molars to fall out.
Dr. Biscet has told his family he fears for his life and highly distrusts the medical personnel at the prison facility. In addition, all his mail sent from prison has been intercepted and his Bible has been confiscated.
So who is Dr. Oscar Elias Biscet? He is a man declared prisoner of conscience by Amnesty International. He is Castro's worst nightmare. He is a man wrongly imprisoned for believing in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Dr. Biscet is Cuba's New Man. He is Cuba's hope for the future.