If Cuba wants to be considered a full member of the international community, if it is sincere about the "dialogue" its leaders claim to seek, it must respect freedom of the press and release four journalists in jail for doing their jobs.
That's the message from Christophe Deloire, secretary-general of Reporters Without Borders, in an open letter Monday to the Cuban dictator Raul Castro.
This dialogue will only be possible if Cuba stops cracking down on citizens “guilty” of providing domestic news coverage that is not controlled by the state. The authorities must abolish this control at once, recognize diverse news reporting and release all those who have been unjustly imprisoned. Your stated desire to comply with international law and the UN charter means that your government must now urgently ratify the two UN conventions on civil and political rights that it signed in 2008. And several dramatic situations can be resolved without waiting a moment longer.
Hablemos Press reporter Calixto Ramón Martínez Arias, who has been held for nearly five months, is facing a possible three-year jail term for “insulting the head of state.” In fact, this independent journalist is being punished for publishing information about cholera and dengue epidemics that was eventually confirmed by the government.
Luis Antonio Torres, a journalist employed by the state-owned daily Granma, was sentenced to 14 years in prison in July 2012 on unsubstantiated spying charges after reporting information of public interest about the negative consequences of certain infrastructural projects. Is talking about embarrassing facts tantamount to conspiracy against the state?
We are similarly concerned about Ángel Santiesteban-Prats, a recognized writer and intellectual and winner of various prizes, who was sentenced to five years in prison on 8 December on trumped-up charges of “home violation” and “injuries” after a trial with bribed witnesses. All he did was criticize your government on his blog. He could be arrested to begin serving his sentence at any moment.
Finally, Reporters Without Borders, has learned that the independent journalist Héctor Julio Cedeño was arrested in Havana on 5 February just for photographing state inspectors harassing street vendors, and that he is still being held. Does this kind of obstruction and persecution really help the critical debate you advocate?
Read the whole thing, here.