CASTRO’S USE OF PSYCHIATRY AGAINST POLITICAL OPPOSITION
by Agustin Blazquez with the collaboration of Jaums Sutton
Due to the over zealous guardians of academic political correctness - a communist engendered abomination that is instituting censorship little by little while deleting freedom of speech from the public forum in the U.S. - the book THE POLITICS OF PSYCHIATRY IN REVOLUTIONARY CUBA, by Charles J. Brown and Armando M. Lago, published in the U.S. in 1991, was totally ignored. However, it received great reviews in Europe and even in the former Soviet Union!
This book documented 31 cases of psychiatric abuses in Mazorra Psychiatry Hospital in Havana. In addition to this book, two addendums to the United Nations Human Rights Commission in Geneva (1992 & 1993) presented 40 more documented cases. The South Florida Psychiatric Association found approximately 100 new cases in 1995 among the rafters detained at Guantanamo. And in 1996, the office of Research at Radio Marti found 200 more documented cases. Making a total of 371 known cases.
Dr. Lago, one of the authors of the book: "In the former Soviet Union, with a population of three hundred million, there were 300 well documented cases of psychiatric abuse against political dissidents (1 per million). However, Cuba's eleven million inhabitants, with 371 cases is a shocking contrast (1 per 30,000)."
In 1997 I was astonished to learn that the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), on September 25, 1997, gave their Award for Administration, 1997, to Eduardo Bernabe Ordaz, M.D., the director of the same Mazorra Psychiatric Hospital. It was preposterous that Dr. Ordaz, director for life of Mazorra, a hospital notorious for punishing political dissidents with heavy doses of psychotropic drugs and electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), would be awarded by an international organization like PAHO.
At that time, Daniel Epstein, PAHO's Press Officer, declared that this annual award was given to Dr. Ordaz in recognition of "his pioneering efforts in the establishing of rehabilitation programs and the humanization of hospital care for persons suffering from chronic illness."
In a 1997 letter to President Clinton, Florida Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, condemned PAHO's award to Dr. Ordaz.
She also wrote to PAHO's director, Sir George O. Alleyne, about Dr. Ordaz's award saying, "It is an embarrassment that an individual who has used his medical knowledge to further a totalitarian dictatorship be rewarded for his brutality." And she urged the revocation of the award.
In a September 30 letter to her colleagues on Capitol Hill, she presented three cases of psychiatric abuses at Mazorra, commenting, "How an international health organization that received millions in American taxpayer monies every year can reward the director of this hospital is incomprehensible." Congresswoman Ros-Lehtinen urged her colleagues to co-sign the letter asking for the revocation of Dr. Ordaz's award.
PAHO, despite numerous complaints, did not revoke the award and did not apologize to the victims of Dr. Ordaz and his hospital. This was the equivalent of giving an award to Dr. Josef Mengele, the ardent Nazi server of Hitler who was the chief doctor at the Auschwitz concentration camp.
In 1991, Dr. Lago met with PAHO's then director, Dr. Carlyle Guerra de Macedo, and asked him to send a letter to Cuba asking for answers to the charges in his book. PAHO refused. In 1992, PAHO's representative in Havana, Dr. Miguel Marquez, sponsored a seminar praising Cuba's efforts in the fields of Human Rights and Psychiatry. Dr. Lago complained of the travesty to the U.S. State Department official in charge of supervising PAHO's operation, and according to Dr. Lago, "I was given the run-around."
Furthermore, in January 1996, Dr. Ordaz refused to allow the American Psychiatric Association to visit Mazorra.
In order to attend PAHO's annual award presentation, Dr. Ordaz was given a U.S. visa by the Clinton administration’s State Department and he flew to Washington, D.C.
Dr. Ordaz had the privilege of receiving another U.S. visa from the Clinton administration to attend the baseball game at Camden Yard in Baltimore when the Cuban baseball team defeated the Orioles.
It was remarkable that the U.S. State Department issued two visas to a person of Dr. Ordaz's background when they often deny visas to former Cuban political prisoners and their families who suffered dearly under Castro's tyrannical rule.
Dr. Lago says that U.S. visas are also often denied to dissidents. He cites the example of Martha Beatriz Roque, an economist and a pro-democracy activist in Cuba who spent time in Castro's dungeons, who was invited in 1993 to be the keynote speaker at the annual meeting of the Association for the Study of the Cuban Economy (ASCE) and was denied a U.S. visa.
However, the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) in Miami issued a U.S. resident visa in 1985 to Mazorra's infamous torturer, Heriberto Mederos (State Security Official assigned to Mazorra, whose crimes are mentioned on 20 pages of Brown’s and Lago's book). Mederos arrived to Miami in the early 1980s where many of his former victims live and they identified him. In 1993 he was granted U.S. citizenship.
If the Cuban American community in Miami was as violent and intolerant as often depicted by the U.S. media and academia, Mederos would not has been able to survive all these years in the heart of the Cuban exile community.
In spite of the complaints of his former victims and the testimonies and documentation presented in the book of Brown and Lago, the Clinton administration and Jane Reno’s Justice Department did nothing about Mederos. Lago even sent his book to Reno with a note about Mederos being in Miami without results.
Amnesty International included Mederos this year among the international torturers living in the U.S. But it was mainly due to the efforts of the International Education Mission with headquarters in Boynton Beach, Florida, that the arrest of Mederos took place charging him with "crimes against humanity."
Finally, on July 15, 2002, Mederos, 78, was brought to trial in federal court. He was accused of lying to the INS during his citizenship process in 1993 to hide his past as a torturer of political prisoners at Mazorra Psychiatric Hospital.
According to a source who attended the trial, the main theme for the defense of Mederos was to attack the credibility of the memory of his victims at the Castellanos wing in the Mazorra Psychiatric Hospital. During the interrogation of one of the victims, the source noted the unprofessional attitude of an official of the Miami INS office in relation to one of the witnesses they brought forth.
This female INS official had taken verbal testimony from the witness in the past.
The official was seated with the prosecution team, directly in front of the source. Sitting beside the source was a friend of the INS official. Because of the proximity, the source noticed that during the "brutal" cross-examination of the witness, the INS official laughed when the testimony of the witness contradicted her original documentation. On some occasions she turned her face around to her friend gesturing her pleasure seeing the witness having a hard time with the discrepancies with the document she had written.
The source was under the impression that the INS did not have much interest in prosecuting the Mederos case. And there is precedent for this type of unbelievable behavior in the Miami INS office, such as during the 2001 discrimination and obstruction of justice trial involving a Cuban American. Evidence was presented by their own agents in the trial of Rick Ramirez Vs. Immigration and Naturalization Service in Miami.
Photographs taken inside the offices of the INS in Miami were entered into evidence showing printed drink can covers and banners displaying derogatory graphics regarding the Cuban American community during the Elian Gonzalez affair. This may have been done at tax payer expense.
With the antecedent of animosity inside the INS, the source, following the known attitude of the INS in Miami and the actions of the official at Mederos’ trial, questions the official’s credibility saying, "How do we know that this INS official did not fabricate the report" the witness had to overcome?
After all, it was the INS in Miami that granted Mederos residence status and, later U.S. citizenship. And it’s where convicted Castro spy Mariano Faget used to work.
On August 1, 2002, after a 12 hour deliberation over the seven days of testimony of 16 witnesses, the jury reached its verdict. Heriberto Mederos was found guilty of lying to Miami’s INS officers about his past, denying he tortured political prisoners by administering electroshock treatments as a nurse at the Mazorra Psychiatric Hospital in Havana.
On October 16, Mederos will face a sentence of five years in prison, a $250,000 fine or deportation to Cuba.
Except in the local Miami press, little is known about Mederos’ trial and the horrid testimony of some of his surviving victims. As usual, the U.S. media tried very hard to keep the American people ignorant about the cruel reality and the deplorable state of human rights in Cuba, thus contributing to the prevalent insensitivity to Cuban suffering.
Americans will not hear from Dan Rather or Peter Jennings nor see anything on 60 Minutes, 20/20, Dateline or any other television show about psychiatric abuse of political prisoners in Castro’s Cuba, even with many surviving victims living on U.S. soil. Americans will not see a report about the book THE POLITICS OF PSYCHIATRY IN REVOLUTIONARY CUBA by Charles J. Brown and Armando M. Lago.
This unchecked control and manipulation of information to satisfy the agenda of a left dominated media, far from helping the cause of freedom and democracy in Cuba, is perpetuating Castro’s tyranny. It is also fostering a profound misunderstanding and division between Americans and Cuban Americans.
How many Americans know who Heriberto Mederos was and what he did? Who were his victims and why did they have to suffer?
The very compassionate Americans would most certainly care if the information is given to them and the U.S. media would make an issue of it as they normally do with issues they want the American people to care about. They are not in the business to inform, they are in the business of manipulating the American people.
Agustin Blazquez, Producer/director of the documentaries COVERING CUBA, COVERING CUBA 2: The Next Generation & the upcoming COVERING CUBA 3: Elian Author with Carlos Wotzkow of the book COVERING AND DISCOVERING and translator with Jaums Sutton of the upcoming book by Luis Grave de Peralta Morell THE MAFIA OF HAVANA: The Cuban Cosa Nostra 2002 ABIP Este y otros excelentes artículos del mismo AUTOR aparecen en la REVISTA GUARACABUYA con dirección electrónica de: www.amigospais-guaracabuya.org