JG - Hope for reporters serving time in Cuba
Hope for reporters serving time in Cuba
published: Saturday March 15, 2008
Five years after 'Black Spring', in which 27 journalists in Cuba were arrested and unfairly sentenced to prison terms ranging from 14 to 27 years, 19 of them are still in jail in very harsh conditions.
This is according to a report from a Reporters Without Borders special correspondent who was recently in that nation examining the state of press freedom there.
Among the journalists who remain in prison are Ricardo González Alfonso, former editor of the magazine De Cuba, sentenced to 20 years, who, in February, was sent back to his cell in the Combinado del Este jail in Havana after a long stay in the facility's military hospital.
Also victims of Black Spring and adopted by several foreign media, independent journalist Fabio Prieto Llorente and Miguel Galván Gutiérrez, of the Havana Press agency, respectively serving 20 and 26 years, continue to suffer, like most of their colleagues in the same situation - solitary confinement, denial of medical care and restrictions to family visits.
To the 19 journalists imprisoned in March 2003, four more have been added since 2005, three of them after Raúl Castro succeeded his brother Fidel, temporarily as president at first, on July 31, 2006. The Raúl Castro presidency has done nothing to improve human rights in the country, but some gestures have been made, the report said.
The release, on February 15, of independent journalist Alejandro González Raga and three other dissidents, also imprisoned during the Black Spring, constituted a first sign of openness. Another came three days later after Raúl Castro's investiture, when Cuba on February 27 signed two United Nations pacts, one on economic, social and cultural rights and the other on civil and political rights.
Reporters Without Borders said it has noted these and other first signs of change and that it supports, in this regard, talks begun by the Spanish government to secure the release of the 23 imprisoned journalists.
The organisation also calls on the United States government to lift restrictions on communications which obstruct access for Cubans within the country to the Internet, and contacts between local journalists and the foreign-based media for which they work.