|Omar Pernet Hernández August 15, 1945 - October 7, 2017|
Representing a delegation of the Cuban Democratic Directorate, I had the honor of accompanying Omar Pernet along with his niece, Bertha Antúnez and Aramis Perez to the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva in 2009 to give testimony there on the human rights situation in Cuba.
|Bertha Antúnez, Omar Pernet Hernández and John Suarez, UN Human Rights Council|
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."Omar Pernet Hernández was 72 years old when he passed away, a victim of cancer. He had spent 22 years in Castro's prisons for defying the communist regime and lived in forced exile for the final nine years of his life. He had been jailed in four different instances beginning with being sent to a forced labor camp for refusing military service, then jailed for trying to first leave Cuba, then jailed again for "enemy propaganda" when he denounced prison conditions, and finally sentenced to 25 years in prison for gathering signatures for Project Varela, a petition drive to reform Cuban laws to bring it in line with international human rights standards. He served five years of that sentence and was forcibly exiled to Spain unable to ever return to Cuba.
|Regis Iglesias Ramirez thanked Omar "for above all the struggle for human rights that always united us."|
Omar Pernet Hernández spent a life time defending human rights in Cuba both in and out of the island. He paid a high price: prison, torture, and forced exile but never backed down or looked back with regret. He gave his testimony both as victim and witness to the horrors of the Cuban prison system under the Castro brothers.
|Bertha Antúnez, Omar Pernet Hernández and Aramis Perez at the UNHRC|