WELCOME, MICHELLE MALKIN READERS (May 2007)
To read more about imprisoned Cuban journalists, click on the names to the left, under "March 18 Project" (March 18, 2003, is when the Castro dictatorship started the "black spring" roundup of independent journalists, human rights activists and other dissidents. Eventually, 75 government opponents were sentenced to prison terms of up to 28 years. I have profiled many of them as Political Prisoners of the Week. You can read their stories by clicking on the names to the left, under "Political Prisoner of the Week.)
And for more about Michael "Sicko" Moore and other idiots about Cuba, visit my Cuba Idiot Watch.
The official Web site for World Press Freedom Day includes brief profiles on 24 imprisoned journalists in Cuba — only China has more. Most of those profiled are pictured in the composite poster.
Those not pictured, and their profiles on the World Press Freedom Day Web site are:
Jose Gabriel Ramon Castillo
Imprisoned: March 18, 2003
Ramón Castillo, director of the independent news agency Instituto Cultura y Democracia Press, was tried under Article 91 of the penal code, which imposes lengthy prison sentences or death for those who act against "the independence or the territorial integrity of the state." In April 2003, he was sentenced to a 20-year prison term and was sent to Villa Clara Provincial Prison in central Cuba, hundreds of miles from his home.
In July 2004, prison officials searched Ramón Castillo's cell and confiscated his notes, a diary, and letters, according to the Miami-based CubaNet Web site.
Ramón Castillo suffers from a heart condition, liver problems, and high blood pressure, according to his brother, Jorge Ramón Castillo. With his health deteriorating, Ramón Castillo was transferred to the Carlos J. Finlay military hospital in Havana in November 2004. In February 2005, Ramón Castillo was transferred to Boniato Prison in his native Santiago de Cuba province, in eastern Cuba. There, he shares a cell with two common criminals.
In 2005, his brother said, Ramón Castillo began suffering from a sleep disorder and severe anxiety. A Catholic, Ramón Castillo has not had access to a priest or other religious guidance.
For more on Ramón Castillo:
Lester Luis González Pentón
Imprisoned: March 18, 2003
González Pentón, an independent journalist based in central Villa Clara province, was tried under Article 91 of the penal code, which imposes lengthy prison sentences or death for those who act against "the independence or the territorial integrity of the state." He was sentenced to 20 years in prison in April 2003. He was transferred a number of times before being taken to a military hospital in Havana for a medical checkup.
His mother, Mireya de la Caridad Pentón, told CPJ that he was diagnosed with chronic gastritis, sinusitis, and lower back pain, she said. In addition, she said, his imprisonment and the separation from his young daughter had caused him anxiety.
For more on González Pentón:
Oscar Mario Gonzalez
UPDATED, Nov. 21, 2006: González was released from prison on Nov. 20, 2006.
Imprisoned: July 22, 2005
González, a journalist with the independent news agency Grupo de Trabajo Decoro, was arrested about a block from his home in Havana, according to colleague Ana Leonor Díaz.
Authorities did not immediately say why González was detained or file any charges against him publicly. Díaz said González might have been detained in connection with a police crackdown that began July 22, when opposition activists planned to hold an antigovernment protest outside the French Embassy in Havana.
Several leaders of the protest group, the Assembly to Promote Civil Society in Cuba (APSC), were detained before they could join other protesters. In all, at least 29 people were detained; most were released without charge.
In May, González covered the APSC congress for Grupo de Trabajo Decoro. The unprecedented two-day congress brought together 200 activists and guests to discuss ways to create a democratic society in Cuba. At the time, Cuban authorities detained and expelled at least five foreign journalists who had traveled to Cuba to cover the meeting.
A police investigator told the journalist's relatives that he would be prosecuted under Law 88 for the Protection of Cuba's National Independence and Economy, Diaz reported. The law sets penalties of up to 20 years in prison for anyone who commits "acts that in agreement with imperialist interests are aimed at subverting the internal order of the nation and destroy its political, economic, and social system."
As of December 1, Cuban authorities had yet to formally charge González. He was being held by police in Havana.
For more on González:
Albert Santiago Du Bouchet Hernandez
Imprisoned: August 6, 2005
Du Bouchet Hernández was arrested on August 6, tried three days later, and handed a one-year jail term—all without the knowledge of his family, who learned of his detention only after he smuggled a note out of prison. Du Bouchet Hernández is director of the independent news agency Havana Press, which sends reports to the Miami-based Web site Nueva Prensa Cubana.
Du Bouchet Hernández was detained on a reporting trip to Artemisa, 38 miles (60 kilometers) from Havana, according to his wife, Bárbara Pérez Araya. He was charged with "disrespecting" the local chief of police and resisting arrest. He was sent to the Melena del Sur prison in Habana province after his conviction.
Pérez Araya told CPJ said her husband did not have access to a lawyer before or during the trial, that the charges were fabricated, and that his trial was "a sham."
Du Bouchet Hernández covered the congress of the Assembly to Promote Civil Society (APSC) in May 2005. The two-day gathering, unprecedented in Cuba, brought together 200 opposition activists and guests to discuss ways to create a democracy in Cuba.
Pérez Araya said state security agents warned Du Bouchet Hernández in May and July to stop work or face imprisonment. They ordered him to appear at a police station on the opening day of the APSC meeting, but he ignored the summons and covered the conference.
Neither Pérez Araya nor her husband has received a copy of the court ruling. She said her husband has not been able to sleep well in jail. She took him sedatives and other medication but he was only allowed to receive headache pills.
For more on Du Bouchet Hernández:
UPDATED, Aug. 8, 2006 Du Bouchet was released from prison Aug. 5 after serving 1 year and 7 days in prison.
UPDATED, Aug. 21, 2007Du Bouchet was sentenced 2 years in prison, as well as 2 years of work-release and 2 years of probation, for allegedly stealing a hankerchief once belonging to Fidel Castro.
Babalú has more on World Press Freedom Day, including a list of the 16 Cuban journalists arrested in 2005.