International Press Freedom Awards

IPFA 2005 - Vazquez Portal



Manuel Vázquez Portal, freed from Cuban jail,
picks up his 2003 award


Two years ago, CPJ honored imprisoned Cuban journalist Manuel Vázquez Portal with its International Press Freedom Award. Vázquez Portal was later freed, thanks in part to an intensive advocacy campaign, and he now lives in Miami and works as a columnist for El Nuevo Herald. He accepted his award on November 22, 2005. Here is the text of his remarks.

Versión en español



Ladies and gentlemen:

In the beginning there was the word. It set people free. It enabled them to express themselves. And freedom of expression is the genesis of all freedoms. A person is never more free than when he can expound and defend his thoughts.

Those who restrict, limit, and curtail freedom of expression are infringing upon the most sacred of human rights. Preventing the free flow of ideas is a hideous crime.

I was a victim of such an atrocity. I still carry the smell of jail on my skin. I was convicted for expressing what I thought, what I think. But there are no prisons that can contain thoughts nor bars that can confine words. The crime was revealed. The guilty were condemned. The truth was rewarded. Freedom of expression triumphed.

That is what I felt when, in a narrow and gloomy cell in a Cuban jail, I heard that the Committee to Protect Journalists was honoring me with their 2003 award. I did not feel worthy. I was not overcome with vanity. But I was seized by a deep sense of gratitude towards my colleagues who, when they saw that I was prevented from speaking, spoke for me; by rescuing me from loneliness and oblivion they made my imprisonment bearable.

Today, thanks to so many generous words, to so much effort by so many, I was able to come here to meet you, to thank you personally, and to ask that you accompany me once again in rescuing from loneliness, oblivion, and imprisonment the more than 20 journalists who are still suffering in Cuban jails today. It is on their behalf and for them, that I accept this award. They need it. May it reach them and set them free.

Thank you very much.





Discurso de recibimiento del premio de Libertad de Expresión del CPJ.

Señoras:
Señores:

En el principio fue el verbo. Hizo libre al ser humano. Le permitió expresarse. Y la libertad de expresión es el génesis de todas las libertades. Nunca es más libre la persona que cuando puede exponer y defender su pensamiento.

Quien coarte, limite, elimine la libertad de expresión está atentando contra el más sagrado de los derechos. De monstruoso ha de calificarse el crimen de impedir la libre circulación de las ideas.

Yo fui víctima de tal atrocidad. Traigo aún olor de cárcel en la piel. Se me condenó por expresar lo que pensaba, lo que pienso. Pero no hay prisiones que impidan el pensamiento ni rejas que detengan la palabra. Se supo el crimen. Se condenó al verdadero culpable. Se premió a la verdad. Ganó la libertad de expresión.

Eso sentí cuando, en una angosta, lóbrega celda de una cárcel cubana, supe que el Comité de Protección al Periodista me honraba con su premio de 2003. No me creí merecedor. No me engolfó la vanidad. Me embargó un profundo sentimiento de agradecimiento por los colegas que al verme impedido de expresarme se expresaban por mí; me salvaban de la soledad y el olvido, aliviaban mi encierro.

Hoy, gracias a tanta palabra generosa, tanto esfuerzo común, he podido venir a encontrarme con ustedes, agradecerles personalmente y pedirles me acompañen una vez más en salvar de la soledad, el olvido y el encierro a más de una veintena de periodistas que sufren aún en las cárceles cubanas. Es por ellos y para ellos que recibo este premio. Ellos lo necesitan. Llegue hasta ellos y los haga libres.

Muchas gracias.

International Press Freedom Awards