UPDATED, July 13, 2010 — González was released under deal between Spain, the Catholic Church and the Castro dictatorship.
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) reports that independent journalist Ricardo González Alfonso, who is serving 20 years in prison after being arrested as part of the March 2003 crackdown on the Cuban dissident movement, last month had a third surgery, this one to close a wound that did not properly heal after an operation less than a month earlier. González's wife has made several pleas for his release because of medical reasons. The Inter America Press Association expressed its support for González's release last month.
The chairman of the IAPA’s Committee on Freedom of the Press and Information, Gonzalo Marroquín, said in a news release:
“We are committed to continue supporting action on behalf of the independent press in Cuba and in the specific case of González Alfonso we urge the authorities in that country to grant his immediate release, as well as that of all those convicted and sentenced for merely practicing journalism.”
González is head of the Manuel Márquez Sterling Journalists Association, Reporters Without Borders correspondent and editor of "De Cuba," the first independent magazine to appear in the country since Castro came to power, according to RSF.
RICARDO GONZÁLEZ ALFONSO
Arrested: March 18, 2003. González was accused of "undermining national independence and territorial integrity," of Cuba, which can include a sentence of death. During his trial, two men previously thought to be independent journalists testified against Alfonso. RSF provides more details:
Eight prosecution witnesses were called, including two known as independent journalists, Manuel David Orrio and Nestor Baguer, who admitted they were secret government agents with the code names Miguel and Octavio. They accused the defendants of working for the United States.
(Orrio infiltrated the underground opposition in 1992, before working in the independent press with the APIC agency (in 1995) and then as head of the Colegio de Periodistas Independientes (CPI). The 80-year-old Baguer, a pioneer of the independent media, was once head of APIC, the country’s first independent news agency, and worked on "De Cuba" with González).
The prosecutor also accused González of working for Reporters Without Borders, which was described as a "French news agency with subversive aims."
Prison sentence: 20 years.
For more on Uncommon Sense's March 18 Project, read here.
WHAT CAN YOU DO TO HELP?
Reporters Without Borders has an ongoing petition drive asking Castro to release the prisoners. You can sign the petition here. (A technical note: Reporters Without Borders is based in Paris, so the confirmation e-mail you will receive after signing the petition will be in French. Just in case you don't read French, the confirmation e-mail asks you click on the link to complete the petition signature process. Castro won't receive your message until you click on the link.)
For more on the Cuban dissidents, including a chance to "adopt a dissident," see the Cuban American National Foundation's Web site.
Perhaps the most important thing you can do is find and read the work of independent journalists still on the island. A place to find their articles, in Spanish, English and French, is CubaNet.