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Sunday, October 8, 2017

Remembering Omar Pernet Hernández: Interview on medical mistreatment that he suffered in Cuba

Omar Pernet Hernández passed away in Louisville, Kentucky on October 7, 2017. In 2009 the Free Cuba Foundation interviewed this former Amnesty International prisoner of conscience at his apartment in Madrid, Spain. Below is a transcript of the interview provided by HopeforAmerika.

Omar Pernet Hernández August 15, 1945 - October 7, 2017

"Then, they realized I would never submit. The times I was incarcerated they were never able to make me submit. They hit me, punishment in solitary confinement, I went on hunger strikes."  - Omar Pernet Hernández, 2009  

Interview with Omar Pernet Hernández in February of 2009 in Madrid, Spain.

Omar Pernet: Look, the meaning of this, is that this type of boot that you see here....I will show it to you again. This boot was fitted for me in Cuba and it began to damage my hips because one, the left, is longer than the right. Then, one hip went like this 0:30 (shows the way hip is going up). Then, here in Spain, they said I couldn't go on wearing those boots, and they asked me to cut them down, and told me to make the ones I'm wearing. These I'm wearing now are stabilizing my hips.

INT: "How is it possible, since the Cuban doctors are so excellent normally, at least that's what the Cubans say, and promote throughout the world. That they should be so wrong? And hurt you so much? How many months did you stay that way in Cuba?"

OP: Well, in 2005, on the 5th of April, I began to wear these boots until the 17-18. I stayed like that until the 3rd of March of 2008 using those boots. These I'm wearing now are different, from Spain. " Stands up, 2:06, shows. "The only thing they did was to slap a cast on. They had me on a cast from the tips of my toes up to my neck for 18 months. The doctors here [in Spain] say they don't find any logic to it. That it was intolerable, the amount of time I spent in those conditions. The cast was removed twice, and each time it was to break my leg again." "I always said I didn't want to do it, because it was gambling with health to demand health, so I gambled with my health, risked my life. Including 2006-2007. I had to go on hunger strikes several times to demand medical attention, for my leg and collar bone. 8:01. Look at my collar bone. Look at the way it is."

INT: "What's it like? We see it, but what does it mean?"

OP: "That was broken in the accident as well."

INT: "It didn't heal properly."

OP: "No. It's crossed over like this 2:20"

OP: "Then, they realized I would never submit. The times I was incarcerated they were never able to make me submit. They hit me, punishment in solitary confinement, I went on hunger strikes."

INT: "Why the hunger strikes? People ask themselves what that's about."

OP: "Look, whenever I went on a hunger strike, it was to defend the rights of another prisoner, or to defend my own rights. To demand respect for my own rights. They didn't, and I went on hunger strikes."

OP: "He broke my leg twice again."

 INT: "Do you think the orders came from the higher-ups? Or from the doctor himself?"

OP: "I think, in my opinion, independent orientation of the Cuban Security, maybe a little higher, the government. They were the ones who were trying to harm me."

INT: "The Cuban Security would be who? The Dept. of Interior?"

OP: "The Security of State, which is National Security, the one for crimes against the Security of the State, against political crimes."

INT: "What is your opinion about the mistake of the Cuban doctors? After all, they could see that your condition was getting worse."

OP: "Look, in regard to that question, I'm going to tell you that maybe I don't have anything against Cuban medicine. And that, that man, that doctor, he wanted to cause me harm. It's not that he is a bad specialist, because I can't say if he is good or bad. With me he was bad, because he tried to harm me, at all times. He did not operate me."

OP: "Don't you see? Now my hip is stabilized. Because it is the same length as my normal leg. That other boot was raising my hip. Like this." (3:51)

 INT: "This was obviously causing harm."

OP: "Of course, Dr. Verduga, here in Madrid, was the one who did x-rays, and an MRI, and then they could see that my hip was losing position, that it was raising, and that my left leg was longer than the right. Then he forbid me to use those boots, gave me a prescription to use these I'm wearing."

OP: "See? They're different. This here is, you see, 2:16 (shows) here is my heel, and from there on, the work they did to stabilize my hips."

INT: "What was the impact on your hip, because we're talking 2, 3 yrs."

OP: "It's the accident. All this was because of the accident, but after the accident, I was not operated. They said my blood contained a virus, and that my blood could not touch my bone. That was Dr. Hector, Chief of Orthopedics of the Military Hospital in Marianao, in Cuba."

INT: "Is Hector his first, or last name?"

OP: "No, his first name, I don't remember his last name."

 INT: "You say the cause was the accident. But this boot damaged your hip, right?"

OP: "Yes, he was the one who had the boots made."

INT: "What was the impact of that boot? And how are things after the change here in Spain? What's the difference between them?"

OP: "Well, with that boot I showed you in the newspaper it looked like this because 3:34 (shows newspaper) with that boot my hip rose."

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