TALK BACK: Garcia has support of Barbadians
He started his hunger strike at Her Majesty’s Prisons Dodds on January 17 and will continue to refuse meals until he is freed or until he dies.
Raul T. Garcia has been imprisoned for the past two years in spite of being legally free, having completed a 15-year drug-trafficking sentence.
Government cannot deport Garcia to his home country whose strict rules prohibit re-entry of citizens who have been away for at least ten years. Government has also not allowed him to enter our society.
This story about human rights stimulated much discussion among our online readers this past week.
Many sympathize with Garcia and believe that after serving his time, he should not be in this position.
First a comment from Garcia’s sister Elena Trillas, who shared her feelings on the issue.
Elena Trillas: “As of [Thursday], my brother has lost 22 pounds. He is beginning to sound weak and hopeless. To make matters worse, the jail has decided to send him to solitary as punishment for his hunger strike. I will no longer be able to speak to him.
“He paid his debt to society. He is no longer a criminal but an immigration detainee. Why throw him in a maximum [security] prison and punish him because he is fighting for the freedom that he earned . . . . Despite being in jail for all these years he has done nothing but shed positive light on this country through his art.
“He has represented the island with an art display in New York. He’s won awards and all with paintings of Barbados, of your beautiful landscapes and your beautiful people . . . . He believed in Barbados. We need someone to help us or he will die.”
Jesse Younker: “The fact that Barbados refuses to take action about this obvious breach of human rights for this man puts it in the same category as the dictator-run nation of Cuba. If he dies, Barbados will regret not having done more with all of the negative Press it will receive.”
Mirna Vegas-Hughes: “The sad part about this story is that if Mr Garcia dies (God forbid), it will be Barbados’ fault and lack of human rights. I would like to hear what the Cuban Embassy has to say.”
Rhonda Jordan-Smith: “Doesn’t Amnesty International handle such cases? Don’t we have a local or regional branch that can help this man?”
Nigel D: “To those in authority, for goodness sake, please do not let this man die and have that on our conscience. He has paid his dues and done the time for his crimes. Release the man immediately.”
Carl Husbands: “Under the circumstances of Mr Garcia having served his time . . . , I must agree with and support his cause that he should be freed or deported. If Cuba is unwillingly to accept him and there is no one willing to take him, free him until the Foreign Ministry can resolve the issue.”