|Volume No. 1 Issue No. 55 - Thursday February 05, 2004|
|Three Dominican Students Studying in Cuba Sentenced to Lengthy Prison Terms |
It was not supposed to happen that way. When Tyron Gabriel, Jason Wallace and Elvis Rodriguez Auguiste left Dominica to pursue studies in Cuba, they like the countless Dominican students before them were anticipating five rigorous years of studying Spanish, engineering, accounting, and getting a taste of the Cuban culture.
Now, things have gone terribly wrong. Today the three young men sit in the Prision Especial a Cuban prison in the province of Camaquey, contemplating their long prison sentences and the harsh treatment they have been dealt by the Cuban authorities.
In a near secret two day trial conducted in the province of Camaquey, situated several hundred miles from Havana, a court sentenced Eyan Tyron Gabriel from Bioche to ten (10) years imprisonment, Jason Wallace from Moore Park was sentenced to fifteen (15) years, and Elvis Rodriguez Bruin Auguiste was sentence eighteen (18) years.
The three students from the North of Dominica were held in jail, without bail since February, 2003. That type of sentence and treatment would be shocking under any type of circumstance, but it is made even more ridiculous when one considers the crime for which they were sentenced.
Tyron was accused without any collaborating evidence of giving a few marijuana
plants to a Cuban Rastafarian, Jorge Vincente Ojeda from the Province of Santiago de Cuba. In addition, Jason and Rodriguez were caught by the authorities nursing some young marijuana plants in their back yard garden.
In April 2003, Prime Minister Roosevelt Skeritt, at the time Dominica’s Education Minister headed a three-man delegation to Havana to appeal in vain to the Cuban authorities for the students release (see story). It was not clear at the time what was the response of the Cubans.
The Dominican.net is reliably informed that where other country nationals have been caught doing the same thing, they are immediately deported. This begs the very obvious question as to why the three were imprisoned and why were they given such long sentences.
Editor’s Note The Dominican.net is in the process of contacting human rights groups here in the United States to determine if some representation can be made on behalf of the jailed students. It would appear that the wheels of justice have once again turned into a monstrous injustice. We will keep our readers informed.