PHILADELPHIA, Aug. 21 (EIRNS)--The first fatality directly attributable to Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge's elimination of medical and other assistance to the poor and legal immigrants occurred here Aug. 7. Wilzon Lescay, 51, a Cuban refugee and diagnosed schizophrenic who was jobless and out of unemployment benefits, committed suicide by hanging himself at a south Philadelphia residence for homeless men.
As a legal alien, but not a citizen, Lescay was barred from all aid under Act 35, which Ridge signed into law on May 16. He learned that he no longer qualified for public assistance on July 29, and committed suicide nine days later.
Sister Angela Newman, who runs the privately funded residence, Bethesda Project, told the Philadelphia Inquirer she had no doubt of the cause of Lescay's suicide. "I think he became so severely depressed at the thought of not being able to obtain benefits that it was too much for him."
Presidential candidate Lyndon LaRouche has repeatedly warned that Gov. Ridge's cuts will inexorably lead to thousands of deaths and has called for Ridge's impeachment. Lescay's is simply the first known case where LaRouche's warning has unfortunately proven true.
Columnist Melissa Dribben, writing in the Aug. 22 Philadelphia Inquirer, termed Lescay "the invisible, disposable man." She wrote that because Lescay was a Cuban refugee suffering from schizophrenia, he was told, "tough, sink or swim." Dribben described Lescay as "one of the who-knows-how-many-thousands of people who are straining every muscle and nerve just to stand up on their own two feet. One of those people who seems fine, but lives every nervous day on the thin edge of just enough."
Lescay, Dribben writes, believed America was not like Cuba. In America, they don't treat people like chicken bones. They would never round up their mentally ill and cast them into the ocean, like his own country did to him on the Mariel boatlift. Sister Angela Newman, who runs the house where Lescay found shelter, is quoted: "All he wanted was to be like everyone else.... In the back of his head, he saw America as a place where you could become wealthy, if you worked hard enough.... He went out every day on interviews,... this is the sad part. When he tried and tried and tried and was not getting anything....
"...I think it's really disgusting.... Really, this is a wealthy enough country to afford to have the poor. I have guys who go for jobs, and they're asked, 'Where's your resume?' I don't know what we expect them to do with their lives. It's just so cruel."