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 Dr Ferrer and his wife, Yusmayni Jorge Soca

Dr. Darsi Ferrer/Ferret Ramirez: another manipulated dissident?
by Claude Betancourt, 12/20/09

Darsi Ferrer is an AfroCuban dissident who has been championed at least since 2006 by the Miami hard right, including the Directorio Democrático Cubano and Capitol Hill Cubans, which promotes the embargo, something most dissidents on the island are opposed to. His case parallels that of Antúnez, another "civil rights leader" created and developed in a strategy apparently first laid out in 1995 by noted terrorist Jose Basulto, who worked with the Martin Luther King Institute created in Miami by the State of Florida (Spreading King's message, 2/8/1996, Miami Times).

As Capitol Hill Cubans points out in presenting the results of a February, 2009 survey, the notion of a "civil rights" struggle against the Castro brothers has a foothold in South Florida: 

"When given choices on what would most likely lead to a democratic transition in Cuba in the near future, a plurality of voters chose the death of Fidel Castro as the top response (32%), followed by Barack Obama’s election inspiring a civil rights movement (13%) and a Cuban military coup d’état (12%)."

This in a city that was perhaps the only one to be disrespectful towards Nelson Mandela after he emerged from a South African jail (see Mandela Travels to Miami Amid Protests Over Castro  6/21/1990 NYT).

The Directorio Democrático Cubano, which promotes Ferrer, is supported by USAID and NED - for example, they provided 89% of its budget in 2002 and received $275,000 in 2008.  The 3 leaders of the Directorio are Javier de Céspedes, Orlando Gutiérrez Boronat, and his wife Janisset Rivero Gutiérrez, who according to the Cuban press are veterans of numerous terrorist and far right campaigns against Cuba. Gutiérrez was a leader of the terrorist/freedom fighter group Organización para la Liberación de Cuba and a supporter of the death squad related ARENA in El Salvador.

Other far-right sites supporting Ferrer include BabaluBlog and Marc Masferrer's Uncommon Sense. Masferrer is the great nephew of El Tigre Masferrer, a Cuban paramilitary leader and ally of Batista who went into exile in 1959 and was later jailed in a federal penitentiary for organizing the overthrow of the government of Haiti in order to use it as a base for attacks on Cuba.  Marc gushes over Ferrer:

"Ferrer, a medical doctor, human rights activist and journalist, is one of the giants of the struggle for liberty in Cuba, as indicated by if nothing else, the numerous times the Castro dictatorship has tried, and failed, to silence him into submission." 

The main thrust of Ferrer's dissidence is the founding of a clinic outside the state run system and his attempts to bring attention to the problems of that system, especially in very poor neighborhoods, where AfroCubans often live. He has not promoted himself as a Black leader, contrary to respected Brazilian scholar and activist Abdias do Nascimento's characterization of him in an open letter to Raul Castro and Lula da Silva, dated October 30, 2009. Many of his Miami supporters do not either, despite the amount of NED funds going to promote the notion of an MLK type "civil rights" struggle in Cuba. Carlos Moore does consistently refer to him as a civil rights and Black leader, as does NaijaBlog but Directorio Democrático Cubano, BabaluBlog, Uncommon Sense, and Capitol Hill Cubans do not. They adhere to the Marti notion that "More than white, more than black, we are Cubans," and avoid placing stress on Blackness, something they are very reluctant to do.  

In the literature prior to Carlos Moore and do Nascimento's letters, I could find only one reference to Ferrer himself taking on racism, at El racismo, amenaza subyacente, Por el Dr. Darsi Ferrer. Director del Centro de Salud y Derechos Humanos  8/2/2008. An earlier article, Joins Dr. Darsi Ferrer to Protest Apartheid-Like Policies in Cuba 12/7/2007, mentions Apartheid, but only in the Cuban meaning - the segregation of Cubans from foreigners in tourist facilities, where Cubans are not allowed to go. This is like a more thorough version of the gated resorts so common across the Caribbean. There is not one word in that 2007 article about racism. Dr. Ferrer's recent identification as a black leader seems to come from Carlos Moore and his Brazilian allies. Ferrer himself has not really promoted himself as a black leader or focused, until recently, on issues of racism.

Dr. Ferrer sends and receives email via the US Interests Section in Havana. This is not an accusation made by Cuba, but a boast made by his Miami supporters, including Marc Masferrer in Dissident says Cubans "long for change"  9/14/2006 Uncommon Sense. In this he joins a select few, such as Manuel Cuesta Morúa, the secretary general of the Socialist Democratic Current, a US supported dissident movement. Cuesta Morúa is also a descendant of Martín Morúa Delgado, the AfroCuban leader after whom was named the Ley Morúa, which outlawed the Independents of Color and led to the massacre of over 6,000 AfroCubans.

It may be hard for Americans to understand what a danger signal such a boast is to many Cubans who have experienced up to 50 years of propaganda warfare designed to subvert their government and sabotage their economy. There is a lot of information available on this history, for example, see Jon Elliston's Psywar on Cuba : The Declassified History of U.S. Anti-Castro Propaganda.

It appears likely that Ferrer was beaten by the police after he was arrested, as happens in too many countries - there are photos taken to show this. He was arrested most recently for having stolen construction material - a few bags of cement, which were apparently sitting in plain view for some time prior to the arrest. In a country where these are not available through stores, a great many people acquire "liberated" materials, and this has led to a crackdown on the part of the government. It is certainly possible the government is using this as an excuse to shut up a dissident they view as made in Miami.

Dr. Ferrer's wife and son

When the right wing web sites talk about brutality in Cuba, most Americans are unaware of the context -- violence of all kind is far less endemic in Cuba than the US. Murder and violent crimes are far fewer and extrajudicial killings by the police are unheard of.  The same cannot be said of Miami or many American cities, where police officers kill Black people in the streets with astonishing regularity -- the event then typically fades into oblivion without any consequences for the officers involved.

People can get beaten in Cuba, but not even the fanatical right in Miami can point to instances of extrajudicial executions. One allegation reported in Babalu Blog, Dr. Darsi Ferrer grabbed by castro's goon, 9/1/2006, is that after arresting Ferrer, the police left his young child alone in his house with the gas turned on. Given the lack of American style street justice, this appears somewhat implausible. But then Miami thrives on these kinds of accusations.

Ferrer is the subject of a letter from a group of prominent African Americans, organized by Carlos Moore: Acting On Our Conscience - A Declaration of African American Support for the Civil Rights Struggle in Cuba, 12/09, which builds on do Nascimento's letter.  Moore's on-line petition for Darsi Ferrer is at

Nothing about Ferrer is published inside Cuba, in keeping with a policy that minimizes the impact of dissidents promoted by the US, so he is virtually unknown there. That may be why the Cuban press does not publish any letters of protest about him from abroad, nor is he referred to in the Message from Cuba to African American Intellectuals and Artists, which was published widely in response to the Carlos Moore campaign.

-- Claude Betancourt, 12/20/09

Note: those interested in researching Ferrer data prior to Carlos Moore's letter campaign and the resulting identification of Ferrer as a black leader may find this difficult given the large number of recent references flooding the Internet. You can use Google's Advanced Search: in the box marked "But don't show pages that have... any of these unwanted words:" put in something like "Carlos Moore" (with quotes). Multiple phrases can be useful there, just enclose each phrase in quotes, unless there is only one word, where you do not need quotes.

Darsi Ferrer News

Fallece en Florida el disidente cubano Darsi Ferret en circunstancias aún desconocidas 10/7/2017 Nuevo Herald: "Ferret, de 47 años y graduado de medicina, se encontraba en el local de un canal de televisión que pensaba lanzar en esa ciudad del Condado Palm Beach, Florida, cuando murió en circunstancias que aún se desconocen. Ferret salió de Cuba y arribó a Estados Unidos como refugiado político en 2012. El activista fundó en La Habana el Centro de Derechos Humanos Juan Bruno Zayas y desde el 2006 organizó marchas pacíficas contra el régimen de la isla."

Nuevos detalles sobre la muerte del opositor cubano Darsi Ferret  10/7/2017 CiberCuba: "Según un reporte, la policía llegó al lugar dónde se hallaba el cadáver aproximadamente a las once de la mañana, y el modo en que se ha manejado los detalles sobre este asunto ha asombrado a muchos, pues transcurrieron alrededor de 12 horas hasta que el canal América TeVé, espacio donde Ferret se presentó varias ocasiones como "invitado", diera a conocer el hecho en su noticiero nocturno del viernes."

Video: Cinco minutos con Darsi Ferret y Andres Alburquerque sobre la crisis migratoria.  11/26/2015 Cuba Democracia: "Charla sobre crisis humanitaria de los emigrantes cubanos varados en Centroamérica."

Cuban dissident arrives in U.S. as political refugee  6/29/2012 Fox News: "And, she said, though Ferrer will feel somewhat isolated in Chattanooga, far from the exile groups in Miami, that will help him learn English, one of his priorities, and integrate more quickly into American society. Ferrer will try in some way to resume his profession, which he was forced to quit in Cuba "after being expelled from the center where he worked and the authorities refused to let him continue practicing medicine," Rivero said."

Darsi Ferrer llega a Estados Unidos  1/28/2012 Marti Noticias: "Darsi fustigó además el sistema de salud cubano y el papel de potencia médica mundial que se atribuye la isla, sin ningún basamento en la realidad, según declaró. Junto a Ferrer viajaron otros cinco disidentes cubanos, entre ellos Caridad Caballero Batista, representante de las Damas de Blanco en Holguín, y el bloguero independiente Gustavo Pardo."

Black activists launch rare attack on Cuba about racism  1/3/2010 LA Times: "The CIA World Factbook says blacks are 35% of the Cuban population, but many observers say that figure is probably above 60%. (The discrepancies arise from the way the Cuban government counts and classifies race.) The ratio of people of color has grown since the Castros took power, as wealthier whites fled for Miami and elsewhere. The remittances whites sent to families on the island have widened the income gap between Cuba's blacks and whites, said Mark Sawyer, a UCLA political science professor and Cuba expert who signed the document. So has a preference for hiring whites in a tourist industry that has become more important with the collapse of the government-regulated economy, he said. The Castro government has long treated racism as an issue solved by the revolution, which promised equality for all. But despite the Castros' early and overt denunciation of racism, it continues to be a pernicious presence in Cuban daily life. Sawyer offered one example, noting that kinky black hair is commonly referred to as pelo malo, or "bad hair.""

Racist or Revolutionary: Cuba’s Identity is at Stake  12/18/2009 Defenders Online: by Ron Walters - "In the meantime, the Cuban government’s rejection of the concerns expressed by African Diaspora leaders who’ve long supported their revolution only intensifies the sense that it’s not interested in reforming racial practices there. Perhaps government officials believe the push to normalize relations with the U.S. government trumps its longstanding relationship with black Americans. This would waste a tremendous opportunity to complete the goals of fundamental social change envisioned by those who made the revolution, and those who supported it after its initial success."

Cuban opposition pleased by African American support  12/10/2009 Radio Marti 


Importante líder afronorteamericana retira su firma de la carta que acusó a Cuba de racismo  12/8/2009 CubaDebate: "Makani Themba-Nixon, directora ejecutiva The Praxis Project que aparece entre los firmantes de una carta de intelectuales y líderes afronorteamericanos que habían acusado a Cuba de prácticas de racismo y acoso de los ciudadanos negros, ha divulgado este lunes una nota en la que pide que su nombre no aparezca en ese documento."

Makani Themba-Nixon, Praxis Project, withdraws support for the Acting on Our Conscience letter  12/7/2009 AfroCubaWeb: "Certainly, we should have thought this through more carefully when we signed on but my focus was to be of support to the groups involved -- and to aid an individual who was under attack. Unfortunately, this effort is being used by enemies of all of us to attempt to undermine a government whose efforts have proven critical to the uplift of Black people, despite its shortcomings. As a result, I am respectfully asking to withdraw Praxis' name from the letter. I'm not asking that you resend it or make any public statement to this effect. The letter is out and not much to be done about that. We will likely make a statement to friends expressing our love and solidarity for the signers but sharing our decision to pull back. Please feel free to share this note with anyone you deem appropriate."

Getting Wise to Racism in Cuba, or Better Late than Never  12/5/2009 Kelly sans culotte 


Reclaman intelectuales de Jamaica a Cuba por encarcelamiento de Darsi Ferrer  12/4/2009 Radio Marti: "En una carta remitida a Raúl Castro, con fecha 26 de noviembre, los académicos Rex Nettleford, Barry Chevannes, Rupert Lewis y Mauren Warner-Lewis, unieron sus voces al pedido de su colega brasileño Abdias Nascimiento, a favor de la libertad de Ferrer, encarcelado desde el pasado julio en Cuba. En la carta, los académicos señalan que "lo que nos sorprende a todos es la mano fuerte del estado contra aquellos que se atreven a expresarse en contra del prejuicio racial continúo en la sociedad", cubana. Añaden que aunque la revolución cubana reclama haber liberado a cubanos blancos y negros de la explotación, lo cierto es que las actitudes, algunas abiertas y otras solapadas, que justificaron siglos de esclavitud de negros africanos, no han cedido con facilidad."

Nueva declaración de condena al racismo en Cuba, de personalidades caribeñas  12/4/2009 Cuba Puntos de Vista: from Jamaica's intellectual elite.

Envían desde Cuba mensaje a los intelectuales y artistas afronorteamericanos  12/4/2009 CubaDebate 

Mensaje desde Cuba a los intelectuales y artistas afronorteamericanos  12/4/2009 Jiribilla 

Líderes negros condenan el racismo en Cuba  12/1/2009 El Nuevo Herald 

Denuncian racismo en Cuba  12/1/2009 InfoBAE, Argentina 

Líderes afroamericanos exigen a La Habana que ponga fin a su 'insensible desprecio' por los negros  12/1/2009 Cuba Encuentro: Cuba Encuentro receives high levels of NED funding.

Carlos Moore's on-line petition on Darsi Ferrer  12/1/2009 Petition On Line 

Obama's ex-pastor doesn't like Cuba, either  12/1/2009 Uncommon Sense: by Marc Masferrer, the great nephew of that quintessential Cuban hoodlum, El Tigre Masferrer.

Subject: Prominent black Americans condemn Cuba on racism  12/1/2009 James Early: [Early responds to the articles about Carlos Moore's letter campaign among African Americans.]

Petition on behalf of Dr Darsi Ferrer, Afro-Cuban activist..  10/30/2009 NaijaBLog: INTERNATIONAL PETITION ON BEHALF OF AFRO-CUBAN CIVIL RIGHTS LEADER, DR DARSI FERRER, organized by Carlos Moore

A message from Dr. Darsi Ferrer’s wife  10/22/2009 BabaluBlog: "My husband is an Afro-Cuban who today is languishing in a Cuban jail, trying to survive under infrahuman conditions and suffering cruel and degrading treatment, for dedicating his efforts to fight for the civil rights of our compatriots. Dr. Darsi Ferrer is a professional, not a criminal as he is described by the Cuban regime, he is a medical graduate, sensitive to the suffering of others and whose only crime has been that, inspired by the example of great men like Dr. Martin Luther King and Mahatma Gandhi, he has employed non-violent methods of civil disobedience to wake up the conscience of the Cuban people and to demand the respect of the fundamental freedoms and rights for all citizens of Cuba."

Dr. Darsi Ferrer Ramirez, Cuban Political Prisoner of the Week, 10/18/09  10/18/2009 Uncommon Sense: Site in support of Dr. Darsi Ferrer, maintained by the great nephew of El Tigre Masferrer, Mark Masferrer. El Tigre was a Cuban paramilitary leader who went into exile and was jailed in a federal penitentiary for organizing the overthrow of the government of Haiti in order to use it as a base for attacks on Cuba.

Cuban Dissident Dr. Darsi Ferrer on HUNGER STRIKE  10/13/2009 Babalu: "Cuban dissident and human rights activist Dr. Darsi Ferrer - serving time in castro's gulag for having "construction materials" in his home - goes on hunger strike. The following is a letter from his wife Yusnaimy Jorge Soca via Marc Masferrer."

Interioridades de la Prisión Valle Grande  9/21/2009 Cuba Represion: Por: Dr. Darsi Ferrer Ramírez, preso de conciencia.

Cuba complains that EU diplomats met with wife of Darsi Ferrer  8/29/2009 Havana Journal 

Cuba: Hágase disidente y viva cómodamente  8/18/2009 Blogs Periodista Cubano: "En la foto:Darsi Ferrer, licenciado en medicina que ha abierto un consultorio paralelo. Sin embargo, se niega a que le envíen medicinas para desarrollar su “altruista” labor, él exige que le manden… (¡como no!) dinero."

From Cuba: A Call to Action in Solidarity with Political Prisoners  8/13/2009 Directorio Democrático Cubano: Promotes campaign launched by Alfredo Domínguez Batista, José Daniel Ferrer García, Darsi Ferrer Ramírez, Mario Alberto Pérez Aguilera, Ernesto Mederos Arozarena, Juan Luis Rodríguez Desdín, Juan Carlos Herrera Acosta, Librado Linares García, Ariel Sigler Amaya, and Orlando Zapata Tamayo.

Dr. Darsi Ferrer Remains Imprisoned  7/26/2009 Capitol Hill Cubans 

Update on Darsi Ferrer situation  7/24/2009 BabaluBlog 

Kafkaesque Arrest of Dr. Darsi Ferrer  7/22/2009 Capitol Hill Cubans 

Update on Dr. Darsi Ferrer and his family  7/12/2009 BabaluBlog 

Release Dr. Darsi Ferrer  7/11/2009 Capitol Hill Cubans 

Eviction of Evangelical Pastor and His Family  5/1/2009 Islas: "Forced evictions are an everyday practice in Cuba; the victims are generally black. What is special about the Ibáñez case is that his family’s eviction serves as an attack on freedom of religion. The Communist Party’s Municipal Headquarters cannot forgive the fact that as an evangelical pastor, Ibánez remodeled part of his home to be a meeting room, and that in it he holds religious activities with members of his congregation."

"Brote de Intoxicación Alimentaria en Fiesta de Adolescente”./ “El racismo, amenaza subyacente”./ Por el Dr. Darsi Ferrer. Director del Centro de Salud y Derechos Humanos“  8/2/2008 Cuba Democracia y Vida: scroll down for Dr. Darsi Ferrer's article on racism, which includes results of surveys - "A cien años de la fundación de la Agrupación Independiente de Color, que nació por la inconformidad de algunos veteranos de la guerra de Independencia ante la discriminación a la que estaban sometidos los negros y mestizos, el racismo sigue siendo un grave problema no resuelto, que tiene consecuencias lamentables para gran parte de la población. Los cubanos viven bajo un régimen de apartheid que excluye a todos por igual. Los nacionales no tienen derecho a la participación plena de la vida en el país. Tal es el caso de las regulaciones que les niegan el acceso a determinadas instalaciones y servicios disponibles solo para extranjeros, o las prohibiciones que impiden la creación de empresas privadas, las restricciones a las libertades de opinión, movimiento y asociación, entre otras."

Resumen de actividades dentro de Cuba en conmemoración del Día Internacional de los Derechos Humanos  12/10/2007 Directorio Democrático Cubano: "La Habana. 10 de diciembre de 2007. Un grupo de activistas de derechos humanos, encabezados por el Dr. Darsi Ferrer, efectuaron una marcha pacífica a las 11 a.m. en conmemoración del Día de los Derechos Humanos en el parque situado en Calzada, entre D y E, en el Vedado frente la oficina regional de la UNESCO para América Latina y el Caribe. (Fuente: Dr. Darsi Ferrer, Centro de Salud y Derechos Humanos." Joins Dr. Darsi Ferrer to Protest Apartheid-Like Policies in Cuba.  12/7/2007 Business Wire: "Dr. Darsi Ferrer is the Director of the Juan Bruno Zayas Center for Health and Human Rights in Havana, Cuba, whose mission is to ensure the policies of international agencies that guarantee health-related rights of all persons are recognized and adhered to in Cuba. Bloggers United for Cuban Liberty is a confederation of blogs and websites that pool resources and ideas for use in campaigns to raise awareness of the Cuban reality." Joins Dr. Darsi Ferrer to Protest Apartheid-Like Policies in Cuba.  12/7/2007 Business Wire: "In Cuba, apartheid is not racial, but political," says Henry Gomez of BUCL. "The political system keeps foreigners and Cubans separate. For instance, many public accommodations that are open to tourists and high-level Communist bureaucrats are off limits to everyday Cubans." ...Regarding Cuba's current system, Dr. Ferrer states, "The current constitution supposedly recognizes the rights and freedoms of the Cuban people. The penal code characterizes apartheid as a felony. In practice, both are systematically violated by the established public policy." Dr. Ferrer continued, "People around the world were horrified with the ghettos of South Africa. It is time to condemn the apartheid suffered by the Cuban people."

Darsi Ferrer from Cuba y los Elefantes  12/7/2007 You Tube 

Darsi Ferrer, a Doctor, a Dissident, a Humanitarian Hero  12/2/2007 Free Thoughts 

Doctor Darsi Ferrer habla sobre sistema de salud Cubano  10/15/2007 YouTube 

DIA DE LOS DERECHOS HUMANOS EN CUBA: RESISTENCIA Y REPRESION  10/12/2007 Directorio Democrático Cubano: "También se ha confirmado una salvaje golpiza al activista y médico Darsi Ferrer, quien había convocado a una marcha en las calles de La Habana."

Dissident says Cubans "long for change"  9/14/2006 Uncommon Sense: "Twice during a 36-hour period on Sept. 1-2, the Cuban secret police arrested Ferrer and held him for questioning. On the second occasion, he was picked up near the U.S. Interests Section, where he regularly visits and where American diplomats allow him to use a computer to access the Internet and write and receive e-mails."

Cuba: The latest arrest of dissident Dr. Darsi Ferrer Ramírez  9/3/2006 Global Voices: "Marc Masferrer, who says he has been receiving Ferrer's e-mails since “earlier this summer”, offers his own theories as to why this latest incident may have taken place: — Ferrer has a considerable public profile, in part because of his use of e-mail access provided by the U.S. Interests Section to transmit the work of dissident journalists, and his own writings."

Dr. Darsi Ferrer grabbed by castro's goon  9/1/2006 Babalu: "With guns drawn, they loudly knocked on the door. He was immediately handcuffed and takes, without pants, shoes or a shirt, who knows where. They left our 5-year-old son alone in the house, because I was with my mother, who was feeling ill, at her house Darsi told them that our son was alone and asked that he be allowed to take him (son) with them. They paid no attention to him. But, before leaving, they turned on the gas and closed the door. Thanks to the help of some neighbors, who quickly went to find me, we were able to break a window, enter, and rescue the child still alive."


Brazilian Blog supporting Darsi Ferrer:
racismo em cuba

Related Materials

For a great background article, see A Worldwide Battle of Life and Death. Part I, 12/25/09 Alberto Jones

Acting on Our Conscience Briefing Sheet: roadmap for Diaspora support of Miami-backed dissidents Claude Betancourt, 1/2/2010

The attempt to divide Cuba on racial lines, 7/9/01  Alberto Jones

Cuban Exiles Invoke US Civil Rights Struggle: Brothers to the Rescue, Florida's MLK Institute for Nonviolence, and manipulating Cuban dissidents, 5/30/09, AfroCubaWeb

Acting On Our Conscience - A Declaration of African American Support for the Civil Rights Struggle in Cuba, 12/09

Reflections on Cuba: History, Memory, Race, and Solidarity, by Lisa Brock, Souls  Magazine, Spring 1999


Cuban Doctor Pays A High Price for Truth, Wall Street Journal, 3/31/2006

Centro de Salud y Derechos Humanos
"Juan Bruno Zayas "
Director: Dr. Darsi Ferrer.
Ciudad de La Habana, Cuba

Cuban Doctor Pays A High Price for Truth.

By: Mary Anastasia O'Grady.
The Wall Street Journal
March 31, 2006

In the early morning hours of Nov. 29, uniformed Cuban police raided the Havana home of medical doctor Dariel "Darsi" Ferrer.

"In front of my sick wife and my four-year-old son, they confiscated a laptop, a printer, various bottles of medicine and all the papers they could find," Dr. Ferrer reported on the Web site Nearly four hours later the marauders marched off with the doctor's property, leaving him with a citation to appear at the police station the next day.

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. The Nov. 29 visit was the first time the regime sent uniformed agents to his home to allege a crime.

Dr. Ferrer is a victim of what human rights observers say is the one of the most brutal crackdowns in the island's history, one that has received little notice in the U.S. "Why now?" one might ask. Perhaps it is in preparation for the day when, as Cubans like to say, a "biological solution" will end Castro's reign. Perhaps it is because Cubans have grown bolder in recent years, increasingly expressing dissent openly.

Certainly, there is more civil disobedience, ranging from silent, prayerful marches by women whose loved ones are political prisoners to public statements from medical professionals like Dr. Ferrer. Pilfering from the state has reportedly increased too.

French jurist Christine Chanet, the U.N. Human Rights Commission's "expert" on Cuba, acknowledged the wave of repression this month. Though Cuban officials have refused her access, she noted that her sources report, "in 2005 more people were arrested and given disproportionate sentences for expressing dissident political opinions." Since she is French and a UNHRC bureaucrat, however, Ms. Chanet blamed the brutality on the U.S. By supporting Cuban democrats, she explained, the U.S. "provide[s] the Cuban authorities with an opportunity to tighten repression against them."

That is the kind of international "help" that long-suffering Cubans have had to get used to, leaving them with the feeling that they are but pawns in the petty, jealous U.N. game of challenging U.S. hegemony. However, while the French bureaucrat is busy scoring points in the salons of Geneva, Dr. Ferrer is struggling to stay alive. His is a particularly brave struggle.

Like hundreds of Jose Six-Packs who have joined Cuban resistance movements, Dr. Ferrer's lack of celebrity is a real disadvantage.

International recognition can provide some protection to a dissident. But up to now, he has been a faceless soul behind the Tropical Iron Curtain, with a family to care for and living on practically nothing. Fidel already knows he has nothing to fear from the likes of Ms. Chanet, so the cost of crushing Dr. Ferrer is very low.

Dr. Ferrer's race also works against him. Independent thinking is heresy for any Cuban but Afro-Cubans are taught to be especially grateful for -- and obedient to -- the Revolution. They are supposed to signal to the world that though they may appear poor, malnourished and oppressed, they are actually living contentedly on Master Fidel's plantation. Dr. Ferrer has not been playing the game.

Another reason to silence the doctor is his honest, professional assessment of Cuba's deteriorating medical system. What Dr. Ferrer and the doctors working with him at the clinic have observed and publicly denounced is the polar opposite of the health-care paradise that Fidel's illusionists have worked years to promote. The collapse of this last "justification" for totalitarian government -- something that shamefully even former Secretary of State Colin Powell once praised Castro for -- makes Fidel's 50 years of failure impossible to deny.

This makes Dr. Ferrer's work exceedingly dangerous but despite the persecution, he works tirelessly for the sick, the poor and the imprisoned.

The clinic writes "respectful letters" to high-ranking government officials, raising concerns about public health issues and proposing solutions. In a July 2005 document called "Health Authorities and the Complicity of Silence," Dr. Ferrer complained of the deaths of dozens of children in recent months owing to increased cases of transmittable diseases. He expressed concern that meningitis, dengue fever, hepatitis and leprosy could become epidemics. Clinic workers pay special attention to HIV/AIDS patients, particularly shut-ins, and advocate for the medical needs of political prisoners and for victims of medical negligence.

With thousands of medical professionals on assignment overseas to advance Castro's do-gooder image with Ms. Chanet and her ilk, Cubans are hurting.

But so what? As former Brigadier Gen. Rafael Del Pino, who defected in 1987, observed in his 1990 book "Proa a La Libertad," ("Toward Freedom"), Fidel has another agenda. He "was of the idea that any person whose health is returned or who receives education will at least never be his enemy, even if that does not turn them into an ally," the general wrote, referring to the rationale behind sending doctors and teachers to Nicaragua in the 1980s. This strategy continues today. Only now, Dr. Ferrer has made it clear that Cubans themselves do not enjoy the same "good will." For that, he is being intolerably abused by the regime.

Published in: THE WALL STREET JOURNAL. Friday, March 31, 2006; Page A17

Dr. Ferrer is the Director of Center for Health and Human Rights "Juan Bruno Zayas" in Havana, Cuba.

Address: Calle San Bernardino 265 entre Serrano y Durege, Reparto Santo Suarez, Municipio Diez de Octubre, Ciudad de la Habana. Cuba. Codigo Postal -10500.
E-mail: Posted by Medicina Cubana to Medicina Cubana at 3/31/2006 04:48:00 PM


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