Desde Dentro de Cuba.

Distribuido por Cuba Free Press, Inc. - http://www.cubafreepress.org

1 de octubre de 1999

RAÚL RIVERO REPORTS CUBAN JOURNALISTS' STATUS TO INTERAMERICAN PRESS SOCIETY By Raul Rivero, Cuba Free Press.

HAVANA - The situation of Cuba's independent journalists with the alternative press is rather static. There have been only sporadic arrests of a selective nature. Since March 1999 when Law 88 - the "gag law" - came into force, there have been no mass arrests of journalists but the authorities maintain a constant watch over our activities.

At present four journalists are in jail: Bernardo Arévalo Padrón in Ariza prison, Cienfuegos province, serves six years for expressing disrespect for President Fidel Castro and Vice President Carlos Lage; Jesús Joel Díaz Hernández in Canaleta prison, Ciego de Ávila province, serves four years for dangerousness,; Manuel González Castellanos and Leonardo Varona in El Típico prison, in Holguín province are serving two-and-a-half years for showing disrespect to President Castro.

Most recently on Sept. 24, in the eastern city of Santiago, the political police arrested journalist Santiago Santana as he made his way to cover an event at the cathedral. Upon his arrest, police confiscated his camera and tape recorder.

Also in the last few weeks, Osvaldo de Céspedes, Pablo Polanco and María del Carmen Carro have been arrested for periods of several hours. Agents have harassed others in the streets or at home and threatened them with sanctions under Law 88, although no one has been tried as yet under its terms.

Journalists continue to experience interruptions in telephone service, both in domestic and international calls. At present, there are 20 small press agencies comprised of about 100 correspondents, stringers and apprentices. Ricardo González Alfonso obtained these numbers on direct investigation with the directors of the groups.

In spite of the proliferation of specialized agencies in the various provinces, about 24 journalists have left or have applied to leave Cuba after the implementation of Law 88. Among them were some outstanding contributors to the alternative press.

The Cuban government denied an exit visa to Raúl Rivero, vice president of the Freedom of the Press Committee, Interamerican Press Society. He had been honored by Columbia University in New York with the Maria Moors Cabot award.

Raúl Rivero Castañeda, Cuba Free Press.


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