Calixto Ramon Martinez Arias
Six months ago today, on Sept. 16, 2012, the Castro secret police arrested Cuban independent journalist Calixto Ramon Martinez Arias because of his courage to do his job, to follow his calling, to exercise his love for a free Cuba, as a reporter for the Hablemos Press news agency.
Six months later, the Castro dictatorship, even as it continues to unjustly imprison Martinez in its gulag, is still trying to break him -- with no chance in sight that the regime's henchmen will succeed.
Amnesty International, which earlier this year designated Martinez as a "prisoner of conscience," after determining he had been arrested solely for exercising his right to free expression, this week reported on what happened to Martinez after he started his second hunger strike since being arrested:
On 6 March, journalist Calixto Ramón Martínez Arias went on hunger strike to protest against his detention in Combinado del Este prison on the outskirts of Havana, Cuba. He was consequently transferred by the prison authorities to a punishment cell. According to his relatives, the small cell where he is now held has no light, toilet facilities or bedding, and he is not permitted to leave the cell to exercise in the open air. These kinds of punitive measures are typically used by the Cuban authorities against prisoners on hunger strike.
The Castro regime targeted Martinez for reprisal for his reporting last summer on the biggest story of 2012 in Cuba that you probably never heard of: An outbreak of cholera, the dictatorship's response to which belies most of the myths about the Castro health care "miracle."
Amnesty International has more details:
Calixto Ramón Martínez Arias works for the unofficial news agency, Let’s Talk Press (Hablemos Press). He was arrested in Havana on 16 September 2012 by the Cuban Revolutionary Police (Policía Revolucionaria de Cuba) at José Martí International Airport in Havana. He had been investigating allegations that medicine provided by the World Health Organization to fight the cholera outbreak (which began in mid-2012) was being kept at the airport instead of being distributed. Since then, he has been detained in various detention centres. He has been held at Combinado del Este prison since November 2012.
Calixto Ramón Martínez Arias is yet to be formally charged by the public prosecutor, and according to his relatives he is reportedly being accused of “disrespect” (“desacato”). Amnesty International believes Calixto Ramón Martínez Arias’ detention is politically motivated and related to his peaceful exercise of freedom of expression.
The continued imprisonment, and torture, of Calixto Martinez has received scant attention in the mainstream American media, although I guess we can hope that blogger Yoani Sanchez's mentioning of him during her visit to New York on Friday might arouse some curiosity.
But his suffering will probably end up being another story about Cuba my colleagues in the press, whether because of their indifference or their ignorance, will miss.
Which would be tragic because the story of Calixto Martinez, a Cuban man oppressed and imprisoned because he chose to exercised his God-given right to free expression, because of his unwillingness to submit his will to that of a dictator, is the story of Cuba for thepast 54 years, and of Cuba today.
And to join Hablemos Press's petition campaign on his behalf, read this.