International community can no longer ignore fate of Cuba's imprisoned journalists and dissidents
International community can no longer ignore fate of Cuba's imprisoned
journalists and dissidents
Published on 7 April 2010
17 March 2010 – President Lula told action on Cuba should no longer be
Latin American taboo as Havana continues to crack down
18 February 2010 – Reporters Without Borders correspondent turns 60 in
1 February 2010 – Dissident journalist arrested in Holguín as freedom to
inform is stalled
"How many more deaths will be needed in Cuban prisons?" was the question
posed at a news conference held today at Reporters Without Borders
headquarters in Paris for representatives of the French, Spanish and
Latin American media.
This question has been more pressing than ever since political prisoner
Orlando Zapata Tamayo's death on 23 February. Some independent
journalists such as Guillermo Fariñas, who is not currently detained,
and Darsi Ferrer, who is in prison, have decided to follow Zapata's
example by going on an indefinite hunger strike to press for the release
of the prisoners of conscience who are in poorest health.
The 25 journalists currently in prison in Cuba include Reporters Without
Borders correspondent Ricardo González Alfonso, who is serving a 25-year
jail sentence which he received during "Black Spring" crackdown of March
2003. His state of health has deteriorated markedly in recent months.
After Reporters Without Borders secretary-general Jean-François Julliard
opened the news conference, Cuban writer Zoé Valdés described how the
authorities recently stepped up their repression of the Ladies in White,
a movement formed by the mothers, wives and sisters of political prisoners.
A march that the Ladies in White held in Havana on 17 March, on the eve
of the "Black Spring" anniversary, was dispersed in a particularly
brutal manner. Valdés also referred to the deterioration in the Castro
regime's image since Zapata's death.
Another participant, writer and academic Jacobo Machover, criticised the
readiness of certain governments – in France, Spain and Latin America –
to tolerate the arbitrary actions of a regime that has still not
ratified the two UN human rights conventions it signed when Raúl Castro
was officially installed as his brother's successor in February 2008.
"The dissidents on hunger strike are not doing it for themselves but for
everyone," Machover said, adding that, "today we are seeing the rebirth
of a small hope for the island's future, one that many had ceased to
Referring to the letter that Reporters Without Borders wrote to Brazil's
President Lula on 17 March and to its contacts with the European Union's
Spanish presidency, Julliard concluded: "We are waiting for a response
from governments regardless of their tendency. The International
community cannot continue to remain silent in the face of the suffering
of these dissidents and the lack of freedoms imposed by a regime whose
hints of a possible opening stopped short at the threshold of human rights.