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1 31st May 09:44
pedro martori
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Default Cuba: No Social Club for Journalists Castro's Crackdown May Have Backfired


Cuba: No Social Club for Journalists
Castro's Crackdown May Have Backfired
Mark Fitzgerald /
Editor & Publisher,

August 11, 2003.CHICAGO -- Nostalgia for the Cuba of hot music borne on
tropical trade winds was much in the news recently with the deaths of Compay
Segundo, who became an international star at age 89 thanks to the hit film
Buena Vista Social Club and its soundtrack album, and salsa legend Celia
Cruz.

But the island's increasingly agitated dictator, Fidel Castro, has been
unable to bask in those warm feelings because a tenacious campaign by press
freedom groups based in the U.S., Europe and Latin America keeps reminding
the world of his mass imprisonment of independent journalists.In raids March
18, Cuban secret police arrested 28 journalists who practiced their craft in
defiance of the draconian "Law 88" and other anti-press statutes.

Castro may have calculated that world public opinion would be too distracted
by the impending Iraq war to care. Instead, furious protests only increased
after the journalists were tried in secret and sentenced to prison terms
ranging from 14 to 27 years.More recently, the Miami-based Inter American
Press Association (IAPA) convened a meeting of Latin-American diplomats to
urge them to increase pressure for the journalists' release. Havana-bound
tourists in Paris received postcards titled, "Cuba: The World's Biggest
Prison for Journalists" from Reporters Without Borders. The protest is
working. The traditionally friendly European Union, for instance, imposed
sanctions that so angered Castro he turned a celebration of the Cuban
revolution's 50th anniversary into a rally against Europe.

Castro may have felt the deepest cut, however, from a recent action taken by
the New York City-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ). "Castro
doesn't care what the U.S. says, he doesn't care what the EU says, but he
does care what Latin American journalists think. And what we have done is
send a Latin American journalist with a good reputation whose reporting is i
ndisputable," said Carlos Lauria, CPJ's program coordinator for the
Americas.That journalist, Gustavo Gorriti of Peru, is known throughout Latin
America for his independence. In the early 1990s when former President
Alberto Fujimori imposed his "self-coup" in Peru, Gorriti was one of the
first people imprisoned. In exile in Panama, his reporting for the daily La
Prensa so unnerved the president there that Gorriti was ordered deported.
Gorriti has quietly visited the families of several of the imprisoned Cuban
journalists, including the wife of Raul Rivero, an IAPA board member who was
sentenced to 20 years.

The prisoners are held in dank prisons far from their homes, fed poorly and
are allowed visitors only once every three months. Gorriti found jailers are
neglecting prisoners whose health has deteriorated, gravely so in the case
of Oscar Espinosa Chepe. Cuba's independent journalists are not much better


the intense, widespread harassment, pressure, and jail conditions exerted on
those opponents undoubtedly amount to psychological torture." Mark
Fitzgerald (mfitzgerlad@editorandpublisher.com) is editor at large for E&P.

NetforCuba International
http://www.netforcuba.org

NetforCuba International en Español, presione aquí:
http://www.netforcuba.org/indexsp.htm

"Solo la opresión debe temer al pleno ejercicio de la libertad. Libertad es
el derecho que todo hombre tiene a ser honrado, y a pensar y a hablar sin
hipocresía. Un hombre que oculta lo que piensa, o no se atreve a decir lo
que piensa, no es un hombre honrado. Un hombre que obedece a un mal
gobierno, sin trabajar para que el gobierno sea bueno, no es un hombre
honrado."
José Martí
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