Press organisation protests heightened repression in Cuba
Published on Tuesday, December 22, 2009
MIAMI, USA (IAPA/IFEX) — The Inter American Press Association (IAPA)
has expressed concern and alarm at the increased violence and repression
against Cuba's independent journalists, bloggers, human rights activists
and family members of prisoners. At the same time the organization
repeated its call for the release of 27 journalists serving prison terms
ranging from one to 28 years.
Journalist Carlos Serpa Maceira reported, in a telephone call to the
IAPA from Cuba on Sunday, that he was physically attacked while covering
a demonstration in Havana by the Damas de Blanco (Women in White), an
organization of relatives of political prisoners. Approximately 30
members of the group were attacked, including Laura Pollán, wife of
Héctor Maseda Gutiérrez, a journalist sentenced in 2003 to 20 years'
Serpa, from the news agency Agencia de Prensa Sindical Press and
correspondent for the magazine Misceláneas de Cuba, was warned by the
political police that if he continued reporting he would be sent to
Juventud Island where his official residency is registered. His mobile
phone was seized and he was accused in a state television newscast of
being a "mercenary journalist."
As a result of Cuba's commemoration of World Human Rights Day on December
10, the Cuban Human Rights and National Reconciliation Commission drew
up a partial list of 83 persons arrested or being held by the political
police in various cities on the island in what has been seen as one of
the fiercest political onslaughts in a decade. The detainees were later
IAPA President Alejandro Aguirre extolled the organization's commitment
to Cubans who, despite the official crackdown, continue demanding
freedom of expression, adding, "Far from witnessing any progress and
tolerance on the part of the government, what we see is an increase in
repression for even the slightest criticism of the powers that be."
A report on Cuba, presented during the IAPA annual General Assembly in
Buenos Aires, Argentina, last month, highlighted the increase in
repressive acts and physical violence towards independent journalists
and their family members, as well as towards bloggers who are restricted
to their hometowns, denied access to the Internet and whose computers
are jammed as part of other measures in response to "the political
immobility and economic and financial crisis."
Aguirre, managing editor of the Miami, Florida, Spanish-language
newspaper Diario Las Américas, declared that there has been no progress
in circulation of information or freedom of opinion; "on the contrary,"
he said, "we see a devastating panorama for the press and freedom of
The chairman of IAPA's Committee on Freedom of the Press and
Information, Robert Rivard, referred to the cases of 27 convicted
journalists, some of whom, as in the case of Ricardo González Alfonso,
are in extremely poor health and are not receiving due medical care.
González Alfonso recently went on a hunger strike to call international
attention to what he terms the "privation of freedom to peacefully
exercise what is enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights."
Rivard, editor of the San Antonio Express-News, Texas, reiterated the
IAPA demand for "the urgent release from prison of all independent
journalists, especially and for humanitarian reasons, those who are
Caribbean Net News: Press organisation protests heightened repression in
Cuba (22 December 2009)