On July 18, Juan Carlos Herrera Acosta went on a hunger strike to demand better prison conditions. Three days later, he sewed his mouth shut to intensify his protest. This is not the first time that Herrera Acosta has self-mutilated in order to garner attention for his plight.
Herrera Acosta, a trained cook and metalworker, became involved with dissident groups early in his twenties. In
In 2003, Herrera Acosta became one of 29 journalists sent to prison in retaliation for their writing. Today, 20 remain behind bars. Among this group, Herrera Acosta has always been known for his aggressive, often violent protests against prison conditions. Over the last five years, he has gone on countless hunger strikes and has self-mutilated on several occasions--mainly by sewing his mouth shut. In retaliation, friends and family have told CPJ, prison authorities hand him harsher punishments and are more inclined to mistreat him.
Friends who knew him before he was jailed say Herrera Acosta was always feisty. But many are concerned about his current psychological status, which became more critical after the death of his 14-year old daughter, Lianet, in a car accident in March of this year.
However, Melba Santana
And yet from his humid and windowless cell in the Eastern Holguin Provincial Prison, Herrera Acosta has vowed not to give up until authorities grant him better living conditions, which include commodities as simple as medication and edible food.
UPDATE: According to reports from the eastern city Holguín, Herrera
Acosta was transferred today to the infirmary at the Holguín Provincial Prison.
The journalist is believed to be in very bad health but there are no further
details, Melba Santana