Release Dr. Darsi Ferrer

Saturday, July 11, 2009
Cuban pro-democracy leader Dr. Darsi Ferrer, and his wife, Yusnaymi Jorge Soca, were arrested on Thursday at their home in Havana, according to family members and human rights advocates on the island. The arrests came a day before Dr. Ferrer planned to lead a demonstration along the seafront Malecon in the capital.

Dr. Darsi Ferrer is the Director of the Juan Bruno Zayas Center for Health and Human Rights in Havana, Cuba, and one of the leading critics of the regime's tourism and health care apartheid, which prohibits regular Cubans from having access to state-of-the art facilities reserved for foreign tourists, diplomats and senior government officials.

In a 2006 profile entitled, "Cuban Doctor Pays High Price for Truth," the Wall Street Journal encapsulates his multiple arrests and harassment by the Cuban authorities:

"Dr. Ferrer had sinned against the Revolution: He is an Afro-Cuban medical professional who, noting the country's abysmal state of health care, established an independent health and human rights clinic. 'We have dedicated ourselves to offering free medical attention to those in need and visiting extremely poor communities where scarcities strike marginalized Cubans daily, to offer health services, give medicine, clothing and toys and to share the suffering of those beings,' Dr. Ferrer reported.

The 36-year-old doctor's selfless dedication to others would win praise from any government genuinely concerned about the welfare of citizens.

However, in Cuba, his work scandalizes the state. It has rewarded him by shutting him out of the official medical community and refusing to allow him any form of gainful employment. Along with his wife and son, he has been regularly harassed and terrorized by the government's infamous "repudiation squads," organized mob violence unleashed against non-conformers."

As Dr. Ferrer would remind us, "the vast majority of Cubans crave change. We've endured more than four decades of stagnation while the tyranny has failed in the political, economic and social arenas. It is time to put an end to so much suffering. We advocate change in order to live in freedom and democracy."