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Cuba July 19, 2005
H.E. Fidel Castro Ruz
Office of the President
Consejo de Estado
Plaza de la Revolución
Ciudad de la Habana
Republic of Cuba
Fax: (011.537) 33-51-06
We write once again to beg you to show humanity toward Cuba ‘s journalists.
As critics from around the world have been pointing out many times, with 23 journalists in Cuban prisons — your government is second only to the Chinese in the number of journalists imprisoned simply for practicing their profession.
The latest news to reach us is that three of the few remaining independent journalists in Cuba… Osmel Sánchez Lopez, Ernesto Roque and Ana Rosa Veitia… have been harassed, threatened, summoned to police headquarters, taken away in the middle of the night for questioning and had equipment and paper taken. According to Reporters Without Borders (RWB or RSF), Sánchez was insulted, yelled at and threatened with four years imprisonment for “pre-delinquent social dangerousness.” After four hours of this treatment, he was driven off in the middle of the night and dropped in the countryside four kilometers from his home. When we reflect on what has happened to other independent journalists in Cuba such stories are ominous.
The sufferings of the 23 Cuban journalists held in jail since March 2003 has been well documented in horrifying detail. After summary trials and virtually no access to lawyers, they were sentenced to terms ranging from 14 to 27 years. In jail, they have suffered appalling conditions — food that is literally rotten and minimal medical care. They are deliberately held far from their homes to make it difficult for families to visit them. Many have developed serious illnesses. Pedro Argüelles Morán , for example, has emphysema, digestive problems and inflammation in his knees and legs. Cataracts in both eyes have left him virtually blind.
Some journalists have been provisionally let out of jail. But they are not free in the sense that they cannot return to the practice of true journalism. What will it take, Your Excellency, to convince you of the immorality of suppressing free expression? What do you think Cubans will say about your government when they are finally free to speak their minds?
The Overseas Press Club of America, which has been defending freedom of the press around the world for seven decades, joins the many civil-rights and press organizations who have joined 107 journalists and writers from all Latin American countries (except Cuba) who have protested the treatment of independent journalists in Cuba. Your government is committing a terrible injustice.
Freedom of the Press Committee
Dagoberto Rodriguez Barrera
c/o Cuban Interests Section, Embassy of Switzerland
2630 16 th Street, NW
Washington , DC 20009
Fax: (202) 986-7283
Ambassador Bruno Rodríguez
Permanent Mission of the Republic of Cuba
to the United Nations
315 Lexington Avenue
New York , NY 10016
Fax: (212) 689-9073
Hon. Louise Arbour
Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights
8-14 Avenue de la Paix
1211 Geneva 10
Fax: (011.41.22) 917-9022
James C. Cason
Chief of Mission
c/o U.S. Interests Section, the Embassy of Switzerland
Calzada between L and M Streets
Fax: (011.537) 33-37-00