CUBA


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How CPJ investigates and classifies attacks on the press



FEBRUARY 11, 2003

Fernando Ruiz Parra, journalism professor
HARASSED, LEGAL ACTION

Cuban authorities detained Ruiz Parra, an Argentine journalism professor who was researching a book about Cuba's independent journalism movement, held him incommunicado until February 12, and deported him the next day.

Ruiz Parra, who arrived in Cuba on February 3 on a tourist visa, told CPJ that he was apprehended at around 7 a.m. at his hotel in the capital, Havana. Officials took him to a Ministry of Interior detention center in the municipality of Plaza. He had just returned from a trip to Cuba's central provinces, where he interviewed and took pictures of several independent journalists.

Although Ruiz Parra was not mistreated, he was subjected to four interrogation sessions, lasting about two hours each, during which he was asked why he was in Cuba, why he had chosen to interview independent journalists, and if he knew them personally. The professor was also accused of violating the terms of his tourist visa by engaging in journalistic work. Cuban authorities did not report his detention to the Argentine Embassy, and he was not allowed to call embassy officials.

Argentine Embassy officials reached Ruiz Parra late in the afternoon of February 12, after his wife and friends phoned the embassy. He was released later that evening into the custody of embassy officials and slept at the embassy. Cuban authorities returned his video and photographic cameras but confiscated his research materials, including notes, audio- and videotapes, and film. On the morning of February 13, he was deported to Argentina via Panama.

Independent journalists told CPJ that Ruiz Parra had been in contact with them for two months. Ruiz Parra said he also wanted to meet with journalists who work for the official press, as well as journalism professors at Universidad de La Habana. He had originally planned to return to Argentina on February 15.

Under Cuban immigration regulations, foreign journalists who visit the island to do journalistic work must apply for D-6 visas, which are processed through Cuban embassies abroad and granted selectively, a practice that CPJ has condemned. Cuban law further specifies that foreign media professionals who travel to the country on a tourist visa or any type of visa other than the D-6 "should abstain from practicing journalism."

In recent years, CPJ has documented several cases of foreign journalists who have been detained, deported, and have had their research materials confiscated after meeting with independent journalists while traveling to Cuba on tourist visas.


MARCH 18, 2003

Jorge Olivera Castillo, Habana Press
Ricardo González Alfonso, freelancer
Miguel Galván Gutiérrez, Habana Press
José Luis García Paneque, Libertad
Léster Luis González Pentón, freelancer
Iván Hernández Carrillo, Patria
Edel José García Díaz, Centro Norte del País
Pedro Argüelles Morán, Cooperativa Avileña de Periodistas Independientes
José Ramón Gabriel Castillo, Instituto Cultura y Democracia Press
Omar Rodríguez Saludes, Nueva Prensa Cubana
Julio César Gálvez Rodríguez, freelance journalist
Víctor Rolando Arroyo Carmona, Unión de Periodistas y Escritores de Cuba Independientes
Alejandro González Raga, freelance journalist
Alfredo Pulido López, El Mayor
IMPRISONED

Olivera Castillo, director of the independent news agency Habana Press; González Alfonso, a freelance journalist and president of the independent journalists' association Sociedad de Periodistas Manuel Márquez Sterling; Galván Gutiérrez, a journalist with Habana Press; García Paneque, director of the independent news agency Libertad; González Pentón, a freelance journalist; Hernández Carrillo, a journalist with the independent news agency Patria; García Díaz, director of the independent news agency Centro Norte del País; Argüelles Morán, director of the independent news agency Cooperativa Avileña de Periodistas Independientes; Gabriel Castillo, director of the independent news agency Instituto Cultura y Democracia Press; Rodríguez Saludes, director of the independent news agency Nueva Prensa Cubana; Gálvez Rodríguez, a freelance journalist; Arroyo Carmona, director of the independent news agency Unión de Periodistas y Escritores de Cuba Independientes; González Raga, a freelance journalist; and Pulido López, director of the news agency El Mayor, were detained and imprisoned in a massive government crackdown on Cuba's independent press and political opposition.

The detentions of journalists and political dissidents, who are often accused of being "counterrevolutionaries" at the service of the United States, began on March 18 and continued for the next three days. Police raided and searched the journalists' homes, confiscating books, typewriters, research materials, cameras, computers, printers, and fax machines.

The journalists were taken to local headquarters of the State Security Department (DSE) across the island. Their summary trials were held April 3 and 4 behind closed doors, after which the courts declared that the cases were ready for sentencing. Many journalists did not have access to their lawyers before the trials. In several cases, lawyers representing the journalists had only a few hours to prepare their defenses.

Some journalists were tried under Article 91 of the Penal Code, which imposes 10 to 20 years in prison or death for those who act against "the independence or the territorial integrity of the State." Others were prosecuted for violating Law 88 for the Protection of Cuba's National Independence and Economy, which imposes prison terms of up to 20 years for committing "acts that in agreement with imperialist interests are aimed at subverting the internal order of the Nation and destroying its political, economic, and social system."

On April 7, courts across the island announced lengthy prison sentences for the journalists. Galván Gutiérrez and Arroyo Carmona were each given a 26-year prison term. González Alfonso, González Pentón, Argüelles Morán, and Gabriel Castillo were sentenced to 20 years in prison. García Díaz and Gálvez Rodríguez were sentenced to 15 years' imprisonment, while González Raga and Pulido López were sentenced to 14 years. Olivera Castillo, García Paneque, Hernández Carrillo, and Rodríguez Saludes were given prison terms of 18, 24, 25, and 27 years, respectively.

The journalists remained imprisoned in several jails administered by the DSE until April 24, when most were sent to prisons located hundreds of miles from their homes. In June, the People's Supreme Tribunal, Cuba's highest court, dismissed the journalists' appeals for annulment (recursos de casación), filed in April, and upheld their convictions.


MARCH 19, 2003

Manuel Vázquez Portal, Grupo de Trabajo Decoro
Héctor Maseda Gutiérrez, Grupo de Trabajo Decoro
José Ubaldo Izquierdo Hernández, Grupo de Trabajo Decoro
Omar Ruiz Hernández, Grupo de Trabajo Decoro
Oscar Espinosa Chepe, freelance journalist
Adolfo Fernández Saínz, Patria
Mario Enrique Mayo Hernández, Félix Varela
Fabio Prieto Llorente, freelance journalist
Carmelo Díaz Fernández, Agencia de Prensa Sindical Independiente de Cuba
Pablo Pacheco Ávila, Cooperativa Avileña de Periodistas Independientes
Normando Hernández González, Colegio de Periodistas Independientes de Camagüey
Juan Carlos Herrera Acosta, Agencia de Prensa Libre Oriental
Mijaíl Barzaga Lugo, Agencia Noticiosa Cubana
IMPRISONED

Vázquez Portal, Maseda Gutiérrez, Izquierdo Hernández, and Ruiz Hernández, journalists with the independent news agency Grupo de Trabajo Decoro; Espinosa Chepe, a freelance journalist; Fernández Saínz, a journalist with the independent news agency Patria; Mayo Hernández, director of the independent news agency Félix Varela; Prieto Llorente, a freelance journalist; Díaz Fernández, director of the independent news agency Agencia de Prensa Sindical Independiente de Cuba; Pacheco Ávila, a journalist with the independent news agency Cooperativa Avileña de Periodistas Independientes; Hernández González, director of the independent news agency Colegio de Periodistas Independientes de Camagüey; Herrera Acosta, a journalist with the independent news agency Agencia de Prensa Libre Oriental; and Bárzaga Lugo, a journalist with the independent news agency Agencia Noticiosa Cubana, were detained and imprisoned in the second day of a massive government crackdown on the country's independent press and political opposition.

The detentions of journalists and political dissidents, who are often accused of being "counterrevolutionaries" at the service of the United States, began on March 18 and continued for the next three days. Police raided and searched the journalists' homes, confiscating books, typewriters, research materials, cameras, computers, printers, and fax machines.

The journalists were taken to headquarters of the State Security Department (DSE) across the island. Their summary trials were held April 3 and 4 behind closed doors, after which the courts declared that the cases were ready for sentencing. Many journalists did not have access to their lawyers before the trial. In several cases, lawyers representing the journalists had only a few hours to prepare their defenses.

Some journalists were tried under Article 91 of the Penal Code, which imposes 10 to 20 years in prison or death for those who act against "the independence or the territorial integrity of the State." Others were prosecuted for violating Law 88 for the Protection of Cuba's National Independence and Economy, which imposes prison terms of up to 20 years for committing "acts that in agreement with imperialist interests are aimed at subverting the internal order of the Nation and destroying its political, economic, and social system."

On April 7, courts across the island announced lengthy prison sentences for the journalists. Maseda Gutiérrez, Espinosa Chepe, Mayo Hernández, Prieto Llorente, Pacheco Ávila, and Herrera Acosta were given 20-year prison terms. Vázquez Portal and Ruiz Hernández were sentenced to 18 years in prison, while Fernández Saínz and Barzaga Lugo were sentenced to 15 years. . Díaz Fernández and Izquierdo Hernández were sentenced to 16 years, and Hernández González was sentenced to 25 years.

The journalists remained imprisoned in several jails administered by the DSE until April 24, when most were sent to prisons located hundreds of miles from their homes. In June, the People's Supreme Tribunal, Cuba's highest court, dismissed the journalists' appeals for annulment (recursos de casación), filed in April, and upheld their convictions.


MARCH 20, 2003

Raúl Rivero, Cuba Press
IMPRISONED

Rivero, head of the independent news agency Cuba Press and one of the most prestigious figures in Cuba's independent press, was arrested and detained during a massive government crackdown against the independent press and political opposition. The detentions of journalists and political dissidents, who are often accused of being "counterrevolutionaries" at the service of the United States, began on March 18 and continued for the next three days. Police raided and searched the journalists' homes, confiscating books, typewriters, research materials, cameras, computers, printers, and fax machines.

According to Blanca Reyes, Rivero's wife, Rivero was taken to the Havana headquarters of the State Security Department (DSE). His summary trial was held on April 4 behind closed doors. He was tried under Article 91 of the Penal Code, which imposes 10 to 20 years in prison or death for those who act against "the independence or the territorial integrity of the State."

On April 7, courts across the island announced prison sentences for the 28 journalists in detention. Rivero was sentenced to 20 years in prison. He remained imprisoned in the DSE Havana headquarters until late April, when he was sent to the Canaleta Prison, in the central province of Ciego de Ávila, hundreds of miles from his home in Havana.

On June 23, Reyes learned that on May 29, the People's Supreme Tribunal, Cuba's highest court, had issued a judicial resolution dismissing Rivero's appeal for annulment (recurso de casación), filed in April, and upholding his conviction.


OCTOBER 29, 2003
Posted: November 14, 2003

Claudia Márquez Linares, Grupo de Trabajo Decoro
HARRASSED, THREATENED

Márquez Linares, director of the independent news agency Grupo de Trabajo Decoro, was detained by state security agents in Centro Habana, in downtown Havana.

The journalist was detained at around 10:15 a.m., immediately after she arrived at the house of Laura Pollán, the wife of imprisoned journalist Héctor Maseda Gutiérrez, Márquez Linares told CPJ. When the journalist asked the agents if they had an arrest warrant or any official order, they said they just wanted to talk to her. The agents added that, since they had shown their state security I.D. cards, if she did not go with them, her refusal would be considered "contempt."

Márquez Linares was taken to an office of the State Security Department (DSE) in the Havana neighborhood of Marianao, where she arrived around 12 p.m. A state security officer calling himself "Aramís" warned her not to publish another issue of the bimonthly De Cuba, the magazine of the independent journalists' association Sociedad de Periodistas Manuel Márquez Sterling. Officer Aramís also told her that she was being very "aggressive" in her statements to the foreign press and had been taking too much of a leading role. In addition, she was told that she was violating Law 88 for the Protection of Cuba's National Independence and Economy, and that she could meet the same fate of her husband, imprisoned dissident Osvaldo Alfonso. In addition, throughout the conversation, Aramís kept asking Márquez Linares if she loved her 6-year-old son.

Márquez Linares is the vice president of the Márquez Sterling, as the association is known by its members, and has led it since its director, Ricardo González Alfonso, was imprisoned in March. She led the publication in September of the third issue of De Cuba.

The journalist was released at around 2 p.m. the same day.


Abel Escobar Ramírez, Cuba Press
IMPRISONED

Posted: December 2, 2003

Escobar Ramírez, a correspondent for the independent news agency Cuba Press in the central province of Ciego de Ávila, was detained for three days in connection with his journalistic work.

At around 9 a.m., three police officers, two of them in plain clothes, arrested the 46-year-old journalist in the street while he was heading for the town of Morón to meet fellow Cuba Press reporter Jesús Álvarez Castillo. The police confiscated his tape recorder and took him to the Department of Police Investigations in the city of Ciego de Ávila, south of Morón, Álvarez Castillo told CPJ. Two hours after his detention, the police went to the journalist's home in the town of Patria, 3 kilometers (2 miles) from Morón, and confiscated all of his books.

While in detention, Escobar Ramírez was interrogated several times and was warned to stop working as an independent journalist. Police asked him how long he had worked as a journalist and how much money he was receiving from the United States. The journalist replied that he received US$25 a month from the Miami-based news Web site Nueva Prensa Cubana for his work as a reporter.

The journalist was released on November 1 after police forced him to sign a document swearing to quit working as a journalist or be prosecuted under Law 88 for the Protection of Cuba's National Independence and Economy, which imposes prison terms of up to 20 years for anyone who commits acts "aimed at subverting the internal order of the Nation and destroying its political, economic, and social system."