UPDATED, Sept. 17, 2009. Based on recent reports, it is safe to say that Caraballo is no longer in prison.
One of the difficulties in tracking and telling the stories of Cuba's imprisoned independent journalists, especially for someone like me who is late on the story, is determining exactly how many journalists are in Fidel Castro's jails. Different lists have different numbers and different names.
Last week, on World Press Freedom Day, I thought I had it pinned down to 24 names, complete with links to information about each of them.
But on Saturday, when the Miami Herald published comments about Cuba from the Inter American Press Association, delivered on World Press Freedom Day, I realized there was a 25th name to add to the list:
José Manuel Caraballo Bravo.
Caraballo, a journalist with Agencia de Prensa Libre Avileña, was arrested before the "black spring" crackdown of March 18-20, 2003. In September of that year, he was sentenced to three years in prison for "forging documents," according to Reporters Without Borders (RSF).
"Without taking a position on the allegation’s validity, fellow journalists pointed out that it was more than three years old and said it had been revived in order to punish Caraballo’s dissident activities," RSF reported. "He also belongs to the Cuban Foundation for Human Rights."
In April 2004, Caraballo sent from prison an open letter to the human rights foundation.
On one occasion I expressed, and Reporters without Frontiers repeated the phrase, "they would have to squeeze everything out of my brain because even without hands I would continue to write". My following of Marti's teachings forces me to make myself available to society in an opportune manner that is useful to the development of its citizens.
In the society of professional journalists, the freedom of expression and the right to obtain information are sacred democratic norms in the National and International organization, for which the social communicator should know and defend them.
I am committed to truth, if my adversaries want to give me the maximum sentence then they should do it and I would not blame them because I am sure that they do not know what they are doing, other than that I foresee weeks of satisfaction of expressions in accordance with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
I would like to express that I am not against Cuba as my adversaries have expressed. I am against all Human Rights violations that attack or seize those that think differently, it is a form of terrorism, being that they implant terror into humans. Martin Luther King fought in the 60's and because of that I decided to become an independent journalist and an open fighter for the Human Rights of Cubans, from here and there. I will be both.
For a list of the names of the 25 Cuban independent journalists and their prison sentences, as well as information about Cuban journalists who have been released from prison (in Spanish), go here.
To read a complete version of the IAPA statement, go here.
For more on Uncommon Sense's March 18 Project, including profiles of other independent journalists, in and out of prison, read here.
To see pictures of most of the imprisoned journalists, go here.
WHAT CAN YOU DO TO HELP?
Reporters Without Borders has an ongoing petition drive asking Fidel Castro to release independent journalists in prison. 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, see the Cuban American National Foundation's Web site.
Perhaps the most important thing you can do is find and read the work of Cuba’s independent journalists. A place to find their articles, in Spanish, English and French, is CubaNet.