April 12, 2024

Press Freedom


Cuba May 18, 2006

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) 81-22-71

Your Excellency:

Today — more than three years after the round-up of 90 Cuban dissidents, including 27 journalists — almost all of them remain in jail.  Now, there are ominous signs that your government is cracking down on the remaining independent journalists in Cuba who somehow survive in spite of the persecution they suffer.

In the last three months, for example, Roberto Santana Rodríguez, who writes for the Miami Web site, Cubanet, was visited by the local police chief and the Communist party secretary at his home in the outskirts of Havana — the third such visit to Rodríguez this year. He was told that if he left home he would face reprisals.  His neighbors were told not to talk to him.

Two of the original 27 journalists, both released provisionally for health reasons, have been harassed.  Oscar Espinosa Chepe was called before a judge
in Havana, told he would be closely watched, could not leave the city without the judge’s permission, and would go back to prison if his health improved.  Jorge Olivera Castillo was questioned in court about an article he had written for the independent agency, Havana Press, in which he said he had not turned up to work, as ordered, at the Municipal Health Directorate. He was told that if he didn’t comply with the order he would go back to jail to finish his 18-year sentence.

Other independent journalists have had their homes searched, their professional equipment seized, and have been threatened with prosecution. Meanwhile, the 23 journalists still serving long sentences are suffering what a recent petition describes as “unsanitary prison conditions and inadequate medical care,” as well as, literally, “rotten food.”  The petition, issued by the Committee to Protect Journalists and signed by 107 Latin American writers, calls for the immediate release of the prisoners.

The Overseas Press Club of America, which has been defending the rights of journalists around the world for seven decades, endorses the petition and urges the immediate release of imprisoned colleagues if only on humanitarian grounds.  At this late date in your rule we hold no hope that you will accept the universally accepted principles of the freedom of expression.

Respectfully yours,
Jeremy Main
Kevin McDermott

Freedom of the Press  Committee


Ambassador Bruno Rodríguez
Permanent Representative
Permanent Mission of the Republic of Cuba
to the United Nations
315 Lexington Avenue
New York , NY 10016
Fax: (212) 689-9073

Mr. Dagoberto Rodriguez Barrera
Cuban Interests Section
Embassy of Switzerland
2630 Sixteenth Street, NW
Washington , DC 20009
Fax: (202) 986-7283

Mr. James C. Cason
U.S. Interests Section
Embassy of Switzerland
Calzada between L and M Streets
Vedado Seccion
Fax: (011.537) 33-37-00

Hon. Louise Arbour
Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights
8-14 Avenue de la Paix
1211 Geneva 10
Fax: (011.41.22) 917-902