Last Updated: Monday, 14 July 2014, 08:08 GMT

Annual Prison Census 2008: Cuba

Publisher Committee to Protect Journalists
Publication Date 4 December 2008
Cite as Committee to Protect Journalists, Annual Prison Census 2008: Cuba, 4 December 2008, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/494a40252b.html [accessed 14 July 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Journalists in prison as of December 1, 2008

CUBA: 21

Pedro Argüelles Morán, Cooperativa Avileña de Periodistas Independientes
IMPRISONED: March 18, 2003

Argüelles Morán, director of the independent news agency Cooperativa Avileña de Periodistas Independientes in the central province of Ciego de Ávila, was sentenced to 20 years in prison. Arrested in the government's sweeping crackdown on independent journalists and dissidents, he was tried summarily in April 2003. He was convicted of violating Law 88 for the Protection of Cuba's National Independence and Economy, which punishes anyone who commits acts "aiming at subverting the internal order of the nation and destroying its political, economic, and social system."

Argüelles Morán, a cartographer, began working as an independent journalist in 1993, according to the Miami-based Web site PayoLibre. He often wrote stories that were critical of the Cuban regime. Argüelles Morán has continued writing stories from jail that have been published on overseas news Web sites.

The 60-year-old independent journalist was being held at the Canaleta Prison in his home province in 2008. In September, he went on a weeklong hunger strike with fellow imprisoned journalist Adolfo Fernández Saínz to protest prison authorities' confiscation of religious materials, his wife, Yolanda Vera Nerey, told CPJ. She said her husband developed bone and respiratory ailments in prison, and that cataracts had worsened to the point that he was at near blindness.

Victor Rolando Arroyo Carmona, Union de Periodistas y Escritores de Cuba Independientes (UPECI)
IMPRISONED: March 18, 2003

Arroyo Carmona, a journalist for the independent news agency Unión de Periodistas y Escritores de Cuba Independientes, was arrested in the March 2003 crackdown. At the time, he also directed an independent library. Arroyo Carmona was sentenced in April 2003 to 26 years in prison under Article 91 of the penal code for acting "against the independence or the territorial integrity of the state."

According to the Miami-based Web site CubaNet, Arroyo Carmona was transferred in August 2008 from the Holguín Provincial Prison in eastern Cuba, where he had been held since October 2005, to Kilo 5 ½ in his home province of Pinar del Río. Laura Pollán Toledo, wife of imprisoned journalist Héctor Maseda Gutiérrez, told CPJ that Arroyo Carmona had been attacked by other prisoners in late 2008.

Arroyo Carmona has been diagnosed with diabetes, hypertension, and pulmonary emphysema since his imprisonment.

Miguel Galván Gutiérrez, Havana Press
IMPRISONED: March 18, 2003

Galván Gutiérrez was tried in April 2003 under Article 91 of the penal code for acting against "the independence or the territorial integrity of the state." He was handed a 26-year prison sentence during a one-day closed-door trial. Galván Gutiérrez, a mechanical engineer, had worked as a journalist for the independent news agency Havana Press since 2002.

The reporter was held at the maximum security Agüica Prison until 2007, when he was transferred to Guanajay Prison in his home province of Havana, in western Cuba. According to the Miami-based Web site PayoLibre, Galván Gutiérrez suffers from a number of ailments.

Julio César Gálvez Rodríguez, freelance
IMPRISONED: March 18, 2003

Gálvez Rodríguez, a Havana-based freelance reporter, was arrested in the 2003 crackdown on dissidents and the independent press. He was tried under Law 88 for the Protection of Cuba's National Independence and Economy, and given a 14-year prison sentence in April 2003. A month later, the People's Supreme Tribunal, Cuba's highest court, upheld his conviction.

Gálvez Rodríguez, 64, worked for 24 years in the official media. In 2001, he resigned to work as a freelance reporter.

Gálvez Rodríguez continued to write from prison, his cousin, Josefa Silloy Rodríguez, told CPJ. In 2008, he was being held at Havana's Combinado del Este Prison, where his family was allowed one visit per month, Silloy Rodríguez said. According to CPJ research, the reporter suffered from high cholesterol, hypertension, and respiratory problems.

José Luis García Paneque, Libertad
IMPRISONED: March 18, 2003

García Paneque, 43, was the director of the independent news agency Libertad in the eastern province of Las Tunas. He was convicted under Article 91 of the Cuban Penal Code for acting "against the independence or the territorial integrity of the state" and sentenced to 24 years in prison in April 2003.

García Paneque joined Libertad in 1998. He had been fired a year earlier from Ernesto Guevara Hospital in eastern Las Tunas, where he worked as a plastic surgeon, because of his participation in dissident activities, the dissident group Cuban Movement of Youth for Democracy reported.

In 2005, García Paneque was sent to Las Mangas Prison in the eastern Granma province, following a number of prior prison transfers. At Las Mangas, where he was still being held in 2008, García Paneque was allowed one family visit every 45 days, his wife, Yamilé Llánez Labrada, told CPJ. According to Llánez Labrada, her husband had been diagnosed with a kidney tumor, internal bleeding, malnutrition, and chronic pneumonia. Llánez Labrada said that her husband's health had significantly worsened in 2008, but he continued to be denied medical treatment.

Ricardo González Alfonso, freelance
IMPRISONED: March 18, 2003

González Alfonso was detained the first day of the 2003 crackdown after his home was raided and searched. In April of that year, the Havana Provincial Tribunal sentenced him to 20 years in prison under Article 91 of the Cuban penal code for Acts against the Independence or the Territorial Integrity of the State. The People's Supreme Tribunal, Cuba's highest court, upheld his conviction the following June.

A poet and scriptwriter for state-owned Televisión Cubana, González Alfonso joined the independent press in 1995. He founded an association of journalists and the award-winning newsmagazine De Cuba, which is now defunct. In March 2003, he worked as a freelance reporter for foreign media outlets and as the Havana correspondent for the Paris-based press freedom group Reporters Without Borders, his sister, Graciela González-Degard, told CPJ.

In 2008, González Alfonso was being held at Havana's Combinado del Este Prison, where, according to his sister, he shared a cell with 36 hardened criminals. González-Degard told CPJ that her brother's cell had flooded on several occasions, exacerbating already unsanitary prison conditions.

González Alfonso suffers from hypertension, arthritis, allergies, chronic bronchitis, and several digestive and circulatory ailments. The reporter, who was allowed family visits every six weeks, was denied medical attention on several occasions this year, his sister told CPJ.

Léster Luis González Pentón, freelance
IMPRISONED: March 18, 2003

González Pentón, 31, the youngest journalist imprisoned in Cuba today, was arrested on March 18, 2003. He was sentenced to 20 years in prison under Article 91 of the penal code for acting against "the independence or the territorial integrity of the state." At the time of his arrest, González Pentón worked as a freelance independent reporter in the central province of Villa Clara.

González Pentón had been transferred several times before being sent to La Pendiente Prison in the northern city of Santa Clara, where he was being held in 2008, according to the Miami-based news Web site CubaNet. Prison guards at La Pendiente frequently harassed and threatened the reporter, news reports in CubaNet said.

Iván Hernández Carrillo, Patria
IMPRISONED: March 18, 2003

Hernández Carrillo was arrested in March 2003. The reporter, who worked for the independent news agency Patria in the city of Colón, in western Matanzas province, was sentenced the following month to 25 years in prison under Law 88 for the Protection of Cuba's National Independence and Economy.

Hernández Carrillo had previously been given a two-year prison sentence, in 1992, for allegedly "distributing enemy propaganda and disrespecting Fidel Castro." Ten years after that, he became Patria's correspondent in Colón.

Hernández Carrillo, 37, was being held at the Guamajal Prison in Santa Clara province, his mother, Asunción Carrillo, told CPJ. While the journalist suffered from hypertension and gastritis, he was in generally good health, his mother said.

However, Asunción Carrillo said other inmates had threatened her son. She told CPJ that Hernández Carrillo had complained about unsanitary conditions, rotten food, and muddy water. The journalist was allowed visits once every two months, his mother said.

Alfredo Pulido López, El Mayor
IMPRISONED: March 18, 2003

Pulido López, director of the independent news agency El Mayor in Camagüey, was jailed in March 2003. A month later, he was tried under Article 91 of the penal code, accused of acting "against the independence or territorial integrity of the state." He was sentenced to 14 years in prison.

Pulido López joined the independent press movement in 2001. Soon after, he became El Mayor's director.

The 48-year-old was being held at the Kilo 7 Prison in his home province. He was diagnosed with chronic bronchitis, gastritis, high blood pressure, and osteoporosis, his wife, Rebecca Rodríguez Souto, told CPJ. She said Pulido López also suffered severe headaches and had become depressed since learning that his mother was diagnosed with cancer in June. Prison authorities allowed family visits every month, and conjugal visits every 45 days.

Omar Rodríguez Saludes, Nueva Prensa Cubana
IMPRISONED: March 18, 2003

Rodríguez Saludes started working as a photojournalist in 1995. He was the director of the Havana-based independent news agency Nueva Prensa when he was arrested in March 2003. Summarily tried in April, under Article 91 of Cuba's penal code, Rodríguez Saludes was given a 27-year prison term for "acting against the independence or territorial integrity of the state."

The photojournalist, 43, was being held at the Toledo Prison in Havana. His wife, Ileana Marrero Joa, said his health was stable, although he was diagnosed with gastrointestinal problems and hypertension.

CPJ found that Rodríguez Saludes' family had been harassed since he was imprisoned. In March, his 19-year-old son, Osmany, told CPJ that he couldn't get a job due to his father's conviction.

Mijaíl Barzaga Lugo, Agencia Noticiosa Cubana
IMPRISONED: March 19, 2003

During the second day of the massive crackdown on the independent press and dissidents, Barzaga Lugo was arrested and accused of violating Law 88 for the Protection of Cuba's National Independence and Economy. He was summarily tried behind closed doors and given a 15-year prison sentence.

In August, Barzaga Lugo was transferred from the maximum security Agüica Prison in the western Matanzas province to the 1580 Prison in the municipality of San Miguel del Padrón, where the journalist's family lives, the Miami-based Web site PayoLibre reported.

Adolfo Fernández Saínz, Patria
IMPRISONED: March 19, 2003

Fernández Saínz was arrested following a raid at his Havana home. In April 2003, he was tried and convicted under Law 88 for the Protection of Cuba's National Independence and Economy, and handed a 15-year prison sentence. The People's Supreme Tribunal, Cuba's highest court, upheld his conviction in June 2003.

Fernández Saínz worked as the Havana correspondent for the independent news agency Patria when he was detained in March 2003. He began writing for local independent news agencies and foreign media outlets in the early 1990s, after resigning his job as a government interpreter due to disillusionment with the regime.

Fernández Saínz, 60, was being held at Canaleta Prison in central Ciego de Ávila province. He was allowed one visit every two months, and his wife had to travel 250 miles (400 kilometers) from their home in Havana to see him, daughter Joana Fernández Núñez told CPJ.

Fernández Saínz suffered from chronic hypertension, emphysema, osteoporosis, and a kidney cyst, CPJ research shows. In September, he staged a four-day hunger strike with fellow imprisoned journalist Pedro Argüelles Morán after prison authorities confiscated religious magazines, letters and family photos, his daughter told CPJ.

Alfredo Felipe Fuentes, freelance
IMPRISONED: March 19, 2003

Fuentes, a freelance journalist who worked in the city of Artemisa, in western Havana province, was arrested in March 2003. His home was searched and raided. The reporter was then summarily tried in April, and sentenced to 26 years in prison for violating Article 91 of the Cuban penal code that imposes harsh penalties for acting against "the independence or territorial integrity of the state."

Fuentes, who holds a degree in economics, was fired from his government job in 1991 after being accused of disloyalty to the Communist Party, according to his wife, Loyda Valdés González. After he was fired, Fuentes became a human rights activist in Artemisa and began reporting for the local independent press.

Fuentes, 59, was transferred in August from the Kilo 5 ½ Prison in western Pinar del Río to Guanajay Prison, a maximum security facility in his home province, the Miami-based Web site PayoLibre reported.

Normando Hernández González, Colegio de Periodistas Independientes de Camagüey
IMPRISONED: March 19, 2003

In April 2003, Hernández González was sentenced to 25 years in prison under Article 91 of the penal code, which punishes those who act against "the independence or the territorial integrity of the state." He was the director of the news agency Colegio de Periodistas Independientes de Camagüey.

According to CPJ research, Hernández González was transferred numerous times since his March 2003 arrest. In September 2006, the journalist was sent to the maximum security Kilo 7 Prison in his home province of Camagüey, where he was still being held in 2008. Prison authorities encouraged inmates to harass Hernández González, his wife Yaraí Reyes Marín told the Miami-based news site PayoLibre.

Hernández González was diagnosed with intestinal ailments and lost a significant amount of weight, Reyes Marín told CPJ. The reporter also suffered from pneumonia, and prison doctors told him in 2007 that he had tested positive for tuberculosis, Reyes Marín said. In May 2008, Hernández González was sent to the Carlos J. Finlay Military Hospital in Havana but was discharged a few days later, foreign-based Cuban media reported. Reyes Marín said she requested medical parole for her husband in July 2006, but Cuban authorities did not respond.

Juan Carlos Herrera Acosta, Agencia de Prensa Libre Oriental
IMPRISONED: March 19, 2003

Herrera Acosta worked as the Guantánamo correspondent for the independent news agency Agencia de Prensa Libre Oriental when he was arrested. In April 2003, he was tried and sentenced to 20 years in prison under Law 88 for the Protection of Cuba's National Independence and Economy.

Herrera Acosta was being held at the eastern Holguín Provincial Prison, where authorities mistreated him, according to CPJ sources. On July 18, the reporter went on a two-week hunger strike to demand better prison conditions, Melba Santana Ariz, wife of fellow political prisoner Alfredo Domingo Batista, told CPJ. Two days into the hunger strike, Herrera Acosta sewed his mouth shut in further protest. The journalist suffered from high fever, hypoglycemia, and low blood pressure, as well as an infection from the stitches, Santana Ariz said.

According to his wife, Ileana Danger Hardy, Herrera Acosta lost a significant amount of weight during his imprisonment. Independent journalists and human rights advocates told CPJ that psychological stress was a source of great concern.

José Ubaldo Izquierdo Hernández, Grupo de Trabajo Decoro
IMPRISONED: March 19, 2003

Izquierdo Hernández reported on everyday life in the western Havana province for the independent news agency Grupo de Trabajo Decoro, according to the Miami-based Web site PayoLibre. In April 2003, he was sentenced to 16 years in prison for acting "against the independence or the territorial integrity of the state" under Article 91 of the penal code. Following an appeal in June 2003, the People's Supreme Tribunal upheld his conviction.

Izquierdo Hernández was jailed at the Guanajay Prison in his home province. He was diagnosed with a series of digestive ailments and circulatory problems, as well as emphysema and asthma, and had been hospitalized several times during his imprisonment, CPJ research shows. Laura Pollán Toledo, wife of fellow imprisoned journalist Héctor Maseda Gutiérrez, said Izquierdo Hernández is also suffering from depression.

Héctor Maseda Gutiérrez, Grupo de Trabajo Decoro
IMPRISONED: March 19, 2003

Maseda Gutiérrez, a founding member of the independent news agency Grupo de Trabajo Decoro, was sentenced to 20 years in prison in April 2003 under Article 91 of the Cuban penal code for acting "against the independence or the territorial integrity of the state," and Law 88 for the Protection of Cuba's National Independence and Economy. Cuba's highest court, the People's Supreme Tribunal, dismissed his appeal in June of that year.

An engineer with a graduate degree in nuclear physics, Maseda Gutiérrez was expelled from his government job in retaliation for his political views. According to his wife, Laura Pollán Toledo, he began working as an independent journalist in 1995. CPJ research shows that Maseda Gutiérrez wrote about social, economic, environmental, and historical issues that were ignored by the official Cuban press.

Maseda Gutiérrez was being held at the maximum security Agüica Prison in western Matanzas province, Pollán Toledo told CPJ. The 65-year-old reporter, the oldest of the imprisoned Cuban journalists, suffered from high blood pressure and a skin condition, his wife said.

Maseda Gutiérrez continued to write from prison. His book Enterrados Vivos (Buried Alive) was smuggled out of prison, a page at a time, and published in the United States. Pollán Toledo said that in October, prison authorities confiscated a series of articles and several pages from a new book. The reporter's phone privileges were revoked numerous times this year after he called independent reporters and human rights activists to report on prison conditions, Pollán Toledo said. In 2008, Maseda Gutiérrez was awarded CPJ's International Press Freedom Award.

Pablo Pacheco Ávila, Cooperativa Avileña de Periodistas Independientes
IMPRISONED: March 19, 2003

Pacheco Ávila was jailed on March 19, 2003, following a raid by state security agents at his home in central Ciego de Ávila. On April 4, his 33rd birthday, the reporter was convicted and sentenced to 20 years in prison under Law 88 for the Protection of Cuba's Independence and Economy, which punishes anyone who commits acts "aiming at subverting the internal order of the nation and destroying its political, economic, and social system."

Pacheco Ávila, a reporter for the local independent news agency Cooperativa Avileña de Periodistas Independientes, was being held at Morón Prison in his home province. His wife, Oleyvis García Echemendía, told CPJ in October that he had been diagnosed with high blood pressure, severe headaches, acute gastritis, and kidney problems.

Fabio Prieto Llorente, freelance
IMPRISONED: March 19, 2003

Prieto Llorente began working as a reporter in western Isla de la Juventud province in 1997, first for the independent news agency Havana Press and then as a freelance journalist, according to the Miami-based news Web site Bitácora Cubana. He was tried summarily on April 4, 2003, under Law 88 for the Protection of Cuba's National Independence and Economy and handed a 20-year prison sentence.

Prieto Llorente was being held at El Guayabo Prison in his home province, where he was allowed one family visit per month, his sister, Clara Lourdes Prieto Llorente, told CPJ. The reporter said in March that he was being abused by prison authorities who kept him in solitary confinement or forced him to share a small cell with another prisoner who attacked him, his sister told CPJ. However, Prieto Llorente continued to write from prison, denouncing human rights violations, and chronicling everyday life in a Cuban jail.

The reporter was diagnosed with diverse allergies, emphysema, back problems, and high blood pressure, CPJ research shows. According to his sister, Prieto Llorente also suffered from depression.

Omar Ruiz Hernández, Grupo de Trabajo Decoro
IMPRISONED: March 19, 2003

Ruiz Hernández began working as an independent reporter in the province of Villa Clara in 1998, first for Agencia Centro Norte and later for Grupo de Trabajo Decoro, the Miami-based Web site PayoLibre reported. After his arrest in March 2003, Ruiz Hernández was sentenced to serve 18 years in prison under Article 91 of the Cuban penal code for acting "against the independence or the territorial integrity of the state."

The 61-year-old reporter was serving his sentence at Nieves Morejón Prison in the centralprovince of Sancti Spíritus, his wife, Bárbara Maritza Rojo Arias, told CPJ. He was diagnosed with high blood pressure and other circulatory problems according to Rojo Arias, who said he was receiving proper medical care. Ruiz Hernández, who shared a small cell with 11 other inmates, was allowed family visits every 45 days.

Oscar Sánchez Madan, freelance
IMPRISONED: April 13, 2007

Sánchez Madan began working as an independent journalist in 2005. He covered a local corruption scandal and social problems in the western Matanzas province, and as a result was detained twice in early 2007. Authorities had warned him to stop reporting for the independent press, Matanzas-based journalist Hugo Araña told CPJ.

After an April 2007 arrest and a one-day trial, Sánchez Madan was convicted of "social dangerousness," a charge contained in Article 72 of the penal code, and given the maximum sentence of four years in prison.

The 46-year-old reporter was being held at the maximum security Combinado del Sur Prison, outside the provincial capital of Matanzas. Araña told CPJ in October that Sánchez Madan was in good health.

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