Friday, August 18, 2006

Free Press

As you may have read elsewhere, the Inter American Press Association (IAPA) has called on newspapers in the Western hemisphere to urge the “temporary” president of Cuba, Raul Castro, to immediately release the estimated 20 or so independent journalists currently behind bars on the island.

These journalists are not recognised by the regime as such. Instead, they are branded “mercenaries” or plain old “traitors” – and sent to prison for periods of up to 27 years.

Most of the imprisoned journalists have been sent to jail for violating one or both of two particularly obnoxious laws: Article 91 of the Cuban Penal Code and Law No. 88, both in force since 1999.

According to Pen International, Article 91 provides for sentences of ten to 20 years or death (read that again: or death), against anyone convicted of "acts against the independence or territorial integrity of the State". A little vague? You bet. Deliberately so, since it is up to the judge (appointed directly by the regime) to decide what constitutes “acts against the independence or territorial integrity of the State”.

Law No. 88 is just as putrid.

Called the Ley de Protección de la Independencia Nacional y la Economía de Cuba, this law calls for seven to 15 years' imprisonment for passing information to the United States that could be used to bolster “anti-Cuban measures”.

Further, the legislation also bans the ownership, distribution or reproduction of “subversive materials” - and five years in prison for “collaborating” with any media outlet outside Cuba in a way that somehow upsets Fidel Castro.

George Orwell, eat your heart out.

The independent journalists behind bars in Cuba at present – serving terms ranging from one to 27 years – have been identified by IAPA as follows:

Ricardo González Alfonso;
Víctor Rolando Arroyo;
Normando Hernández González,
Julio César Gálvez;
Adolfo Fernández Sainz;
Omar Rodríguez Saludes;
Héctor Maseda Gutiérrez;
Mijaíl Barzaga Lugo;
Pedro Arguelles Morán;
Pablo Pacheco Avila;
Alejandro González Raga;
Alfredo Pulido López;
Fabio Prieto Llorente;
Iván Hernández Carrillo;
José Luis García Paneque;
Juan Carlos Herrera;
Miguel Galván Gutiérrez;
José Ubaldo Izquierdo;
Omar Ruiz Hernández;
José Gabriel Ramón Castillo;
Léster Luis González Pentó;
Alfredo Felipe Fuentes;
José Manuel Caraballo Bravo; and
Oscar Mario González.
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Blogger leftside said...

Hi, I just found your page through the Global Voices blog. From what I've read I am relieved to have found an anti-Castro blog that doesn't have to resort to exaggeration and hyperbole.

But I think here you were remiss in pointing out a bit of history about Article 91 and Law 88.

Article 91 is not a Revolutionary law, it comes from a 1936 Code, which itself came from a Spanish code. It does read vague, and its important to note it had never been used by Revolutionary Cuba before. However, when a foreign power declares it national policy to promote regime change, then implements that through the funding of its citizens to perform acts designed to clear the road for this purpose, a Government has the right to act in its defense.

Law 88 was a direct response to the internationally condemned Helms-Burton Act (europe, Canada and Mexico all implemented similar laws against cooperating with its provisions).

It's also not irrelevant to note that the US has locked up at least 8 Americans (the Cuban 5, the Alvarez's and Susan Lindauer), for far more innocuous, but related offenses of being foreign agents.

11:39 am  

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