Desde Dentro de Cuba.

Distribuido por Cuba Free Press, Inc. -

20 de noviembre de 1998, Cuba Free Press.


Havana, Cuba, November 10, 1998

Mr. Peter Whitehead
World Association of Newspapers
Paris, France

Attn: Committee for Freedom of the Press

Dear Mr. Whitehead:

The year 1998 is going to show Cuba with a record amount of words by journalists who are working outside the control of the state.

However, at this moment there are three independent correspondents jailed, fulfilling sentences, and two others who are awaiting trials - and one of these awaits in prison.

Those serving sentences are:

1) Journalist Bernardo Arévalo Padrón, given six years for the crime of showing "disrespect" (desacato) for the president, Fidel Castro, and the vice president, Carlos Lage;

2) Journalist Lorenzo Páez Núñez, sentenced to 18 months for the supposed crime of disseminating false news, and

3) Journalist Juan Carlos Recio Martínez, serving a year for the supposed crime of "other acts against the Security of the State." In general, during and for some months after the visit of Pope John Paul II to Cuba, the authorities retreated or at least paused in their repressive work against the independent media. However, in the month of September they launched actions that included 12 arrests, two of these involving members of the unofficial press: Luis López Prendes and María de los Ángeles González Amaro.

And, on September 10, journalist Juan Antonio Sánchez Rodríguez of the western province of Pinar del Rio was arrested in Havana and taken to the Office of State Security (OSS) headquarters. He was kept there six days.

During this same time but in another part of the country, in the north central city of Caibarién, journalist Héctor Trujillo Pis was detained and questioned for six hours. Shortly thereafter, correspondent Edel José García was warned that he would be subjected to scrutiny in connection with the allegation he had disseminated false news.

During these past months the authorities have inaugurated new methods of repression: On August 28, journalist Efrén Martínez Pulgarón was forced out of his home, which he had rented, because the owner of the house was pressured to evict him. This writer had been covering, very professionally but critically, a trial involving a Cuban dissident. This apparently was considered "disrespect." (This charge is similar to "contempt of court" in parts of the world but here it can involve any person deemed to hold some position of authority, including a member of the legislative body or a block watcher.)

Again, in the first days of November, the same method was used against correspondent Orlando Bordón. The owners of the house where he lived asked him to leave because they did not want problems with the political police of the OSS.

In general, the State's work against the independent press here has been on the increase as the end of the year approaches.

Cutting off telephone communication continues as a tactic against correspondents, as in the cases of Ricardo González Alfonso (telephone number: 29 48 18) and of Raúl Rivero (79 55 78). Such measures permanently block communication by these journalists with news media outside the country; their professional contacts had been regular until now.

The independent journalists have denounced such arbitrariness in some instances with the telephone company, called "ETECSA," which has a communications monopoly in Cuba. It seems to be a curious fact that the independent press considers an Italian company, which works with ETECSA, as an accomplice of the Office of State Security in the conspiracy to silence the independent journalists' work. The Italian company administers the capital of ETECSA. The Italian ambassador here in Havana refuses to respond to any telephone calls on this matter.

The journalism movement in transition, which was initiated with strength in 1995, now has correspondents scattered throughout the national territory; they have formed 10 different small news agencies.


Raúl Rivero,
President of the independent news agency, Cuba Free Press

P.O. Box 652035
Miami, FL 33265-2035
Copyright © 1998 - Cuba Free Press, Inc.