I am very sorry to report the death of Dr. Darsi Ferret, a well-known Cuban dissident and human rights activist, who in 2007 worked closely with me to help expose the lies about Cuba’s ‘free healthcare’ that were portrayed on Michael Moore’s document “Sicko”, which claimed that healthcare in Castro’s Cuba was “free and much better than healthcare in the U.S.”.
According to press reports, Darsi was found dead on Friday morning in the offices of Dar-TV, a TV channel in West Palm Beach. The cause of his death is not known at this time. He was 47 years old.
My deepest condolences to his two sons, his sister, his ex-wife and the rest of his family.
In June of 2007, I was contacted by a producer of ABC/20-20, who had seen photos of Cuban hospitals on my website.
ABC was preparing a program about private healthcare in the U.S. compared to government healthcare in other countries. It also wanted to know if the information about healthcare in Cuba, presented on Sicko was true or pro-Castro propaganda.
The producer, Melissa Scott, came to Miami and told me she was planning to go to Havana with an ABC cameraman and other technicians to film inside the hospitals that are used by regular Cubans, not the hospitals for foreigners who pay the Castro brothers in hard currency and that were shown on Michael Moore’s documentary.
I explained to her that this was impossible because the Cuban regime would never allow it, but that if she wanted, I knew a Cuban doctor who was very familiar with the reality of healthcare in Cuba and could go inside the hospitals and film using a concealed camera.
For the next 3 months, I took part on daily three-way phone conferences between Ms. Scott in New York, Dr. Darsi Ferret in Cuba and myself. Unbelievable as it may seem, ABC didn’t know how to do a three-way conference call with Cuba, so I had to do it from my house phone. It was at a time when there were very few cellular phones in Cuba and Darsi didn’t have a phone in his house and much less a cell phone. He had to go to the home of another dissident, who lived nearby, and wait for our call. I would call each morning and let them know the time we were going to call in the afternoon, to make sure they could advise Darsi to be there.
The producer, who didn’t speak Spanish, would tell me what she wanted him to film and I would convey that to Darsi. We were always concerned that government agents would find out and arrest him, but he was never worried and always willing to take the risk. “I want the world to know the truth,” he would tell us.
Even though ABC News had a bureau in Havana, they refused to get involved in any of the filming or to interview Darsi, or other dissidents, because they were afraid that Cuba could close the bureau and expel those working there. They wouldn’t even provide a camera for Darsi to use, and we had to spend weeks looking for one in Cuba.
At the end, when Darsi finally got all the films that the producer wanted, he told me: “Mi hermanito (his favorite phrase) I have the DVD ready, how do you I get it to you?” I called ABC in New York and they told me they had someone in Cuba who could transmit it to them through the Internet. But the person this person refused to do it because he had not filmed the material.
So, after all this work we had a DVD with all the films taken without government permission, and no way to get it out of Cuba. I called a good friend, Maria Werlau who had originally put me in touch with Darsi, and asked her if she could help. She contacted the president of a country that was formerly part of the Soviet Union and he agreed to help. Darsi took the DVD to their Embassy in Havana, and they sent it to their Consulate in Cancun and from there to my house in Miami.
I wanted to tell this story for people to know the risks that Dr. Ferret took in order to expose the lies of the Cuban regime and Michael Moore’s documentary. He suffered prison and beatings several times while he was in Cuba, for his work in defense of human rights.
The videos and photos that appeared on ABC 20/20 and also on Fox News’ Hannity can be seen below: