Crime under Law 88.
Cuba's "criminal Law"
In February 1999 Cuba's National Assembly passed tough legislation (Law 88), called the Ley de Protección de la Independencia Nacional y la Economía de Cuba, Law for the Protection of the National Independence and Economy of Cuba. The law calls for seven to 15 years' imprisonment for passing information to the United States that could be used to bolster anti-Cuban measures such as the US economic blockade. This would rise to 20 years if the information is acquired surreptitiously. The legislation also bans the ownership, distribution or reproduction of 'subversive materials' from the US government, and proposes terms of imprisonment of up to five years for collaborating with radio and TV stations and publications deemed to be assisting US policy.
Provisions of Law 88
In February 1999 Cuba’s National Assembly passed tough legislation providing for stiff prison terms for those guilty of supporting United States policy against Cuba as laid out in the Helms-Burton Law:
Whereas, the Government of the United States has dedicated itself to promoting, organizing, financing and directing counterrevolutionary and imperialist elements inside and outside the territory of the Republic of Cuba. For four decades it has invested significant financial and material resources to carry out numerous covert activities in order to destroy the independence and economy of Cuba, using to such end individuals recruited within the national territory, as has been recognized by the Central Intelligence Agency since 1961 according to a report released in 1998.(77)
The text of the law further details US legislative measures to finance counterrevolutionary activities in Cuba:
through the Law of 12 March 1996 known as the Helms-Burton Law, the United States expanded, intensified and codified its economic war against Cuba and detailed how such assistance would be given to individuals who would be used in the national territory to carry out the subversive and imperialist objectives of the Empire … the Federal Budget Law, passed on 21 October 1998 by the Government of the United States, set a minimum of two million dollars to support counterrevolutionary activities in Cuba …(78)
In this way, financing subversive activities within Cuba is portrayed, in addition to the embargo, as part of the US ‘economic war’ against Cuba. The introductory text concludes that it is "an inescapable duty to respond to this aggression against the Cuban people,"(79) and proceeds to detail the types of behaviour that would be considered as facilitating US policy and the penalties for them (see text box).
Penalties included in Law 88
Article 4 of the law provides for seven to 15 years’ imprisonment for passing information to the United States government or its agents that could be used to bolster anti-Cuban measures such as the US embargo or related destabilising activities within Cuba. This would rise to 20 years if the information is acquired with the participation of two or more persons; is passed on in order to receive personal gain; or is acquired surreptitiously or in a work context. Similarly, the penalty would be aggravated if the Cuban economy were ultimately to be harmed by the information being passed or if, as a result, the United States government were to take punitive measures against Cuban or foreign enterprises.
Article 5 provides for penalties of three to eight years, and/or a fine, for those who seek out classified information to be used in this way, which would rise to twelve years in the aggravating circumstances outlined above.
Under article 6 the legislation also sanctions with three to eight years and/or a fine the introduction into Cuba, ownership, distribution or reproduction of ‘subversive materials’ from the US government that would facilitate US economic aggression or related destabilising activities within Cuba. The penalties are more severe for those who do so for personal gain or who cause damage to the Cuban economy.
It proposes in article 7 terms of imprisonment of up to five years for collaborating with radio and TV stations, printed publications or other media deemed to be assisting US policy; accredited foreign journalists are exempt. Again, the penalties are more severe if the individual profits by the activity.
Also punishable by up to five years’ imprisonment are acts which disturb public order for the benefit of the US economic war on Cuba, according to article 8; the penalties increase for organisers of such events.
Article 9 outlaws ‘any act intended to impede or prejudice the economic relations of the Cuban state’ with penalties of up to 15 years. This can be extended if violence, blackmail or other illegal means are used; if private profit is obtained as a result; or if the United States government takes punitive measures in reprisal. The remaining articles cover incitement of others to commit any of the above acts; distribution of US funds or materials for these activities; and collaboration with third states sympathetic to US aims in Cuba.
Cuba: back to darkness
Urgent message for Latin American, European and Canadian officials who welcomed Pope John Paul II's 1998 visit to Cuba as a sign of a new opening on the island: You should read Cuba's new gag law against independent thinkers. It's a return to the darkest ages of Soviet communism or European fascism.
The Law for the Protection of National Independence and the Economy of Cuba -- better known as Law No. 88 -- was passed by Cuba's rubber-stamp National Assembly last month, but its full text is only now beginning to circulate among foreign governments and human rights groups.
Judging from a copy I received this week, it's not only directed against Cuba's courageous independent journalists but could be applied to any Cuban who writes a letter abroad complaining about Cuba's problems, or -- God forbid -- suggesting that the Maximum Leader may be less than perfect.
Among its key provisions:
Article 6: Sets prison terms from three to eight years for those ``who accumulate, reproduce or spread material of subversive character from the government of the United States of America, its agencies, dependencies, representatives, officials, or from any other foreign entity [my italics].''
Target: any publication sent by foreign pro-democracy groups, which often smuggle into the island copies of the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights, or banned books like George Orwell's Animal Farm and biographies of Martin Luther King and Mohandas K. Ghandi.
Article 7: Sets penalties from two to five years in prison for ``anyone who . . . collaborates in any way with foreign radio or television stations, newspapers, magazines or other mass media with the purpose of . . . destabilizing the country and destroying the socialist state.'' The penalties rise to three to eight years in prison if such collaboration ``is carried out for profit.''
Target: Cuba's independent journalists, who are not allowed to work in state-controlled media, and sell their reports to foreign media. Many of them have become a more reliable source of news than the Communist Party's daily Granma or the government's news agency Prensa Latina.
Article 9: Sets prison terms of seven to 15 years to ``anyone who . . . carries out any action aimed at hindering or hurting economic relations of the Cuban state.''
Target: Could be applied against any Cuban who complains to a foreigner about the state of the economy, since such information can lead a potential foreign business partner not to invest on the island.
Article 11: Sets prison terms of three to eight years to ``anyone who . . . directly or through third parties, receives, distributes or participates in the distribution of financial, material or other resources, from the government of the United States, its agencies, dependencies, representatives, officials or private entities [my italics].''
Target: The paragraph is aimed at prohibiting religious or other nongovernmental organizations from sending money, computers or fax machines to independent groups or individuals in Cuba.
Conclusion: While Law 88 is ostensibly aimed at countering the ``U.S. economic war on Cuba,'' its real target is not the U.S. government -- which has been trying to build bridges to Cuba lately -- but Cuba's independent journalists, independent civic groups on the island, and U.S. and European nongovernmental organizations trying to help them.
``It's lamentable,'' Pierre Shori, Sweden's minister of international cooperation, told me in a telephone interview Wednesday. ``This kind of free movement of thought should be allowed: It's part of the modern world. No man is an island, and neither can be Cuba.''
Published Thursday, March 18, 1999, in the Miami Herald
Andres Oppenheimer Andres Oppenheimer is a foreign correspondent and a member of The Miami Herald team that won the 1987 Pulitzer Prize.
A few days after González's detention, a police investigator told his wife that he would eventually be prosecuted under the Law 88 for the Protection of Cuba's National Independence and Economy, which 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." However, González's wife said, she never received any confirmation that González would be tried under Law 88.
03.08.2005: Police confirm that González Pérez is charged under Law 88
The Cubanet website has reported that the police confirmed to the wife of detained journalist Oscar Mario González Pérez when she visited him on 1 August that he is charged with violating Law 88, which protects "Cuba's national independence and economy."
Arrested at the same time as other dissidents on 22 July, González is still being held in a police station in the municipality of Playa, which is part of Havana. He is in a cell with non-political detainees, some of them murder suspects. The authorities rejected his requested to be put with other political prisoners. No date has yet been set for his trial, in which he faces a minimum sentence of 10 years in prison.
Aged 61, González is suffering from high blood pressure (170/100), Cubanet was told by his wife, who did not want to be named.
28.04.2005 - Oscar Mario González Pérez faces up to 20 years in prison under Law 88
Reporters Without Borders voiced alarm today on learning that independent journalist Oscar Mario González Pérez of the Grupo de Trabajo Decoro news agency, who was arrested on 22 July in Havana, is to be prosecuted under Law 88 protecting Cuba's "national independence and economy" and faces up to 20 years in prison in a sham trial.
"The announcement of a trial is the same as the announcement of a conviction in Cuba," the press freedom organisation said. "González is going to join the long list of 21 journalists who have been imprisoned since March 2003 for trying to practice their trade freely and for not sharing the government's views."
González was arrested at the same time as 33 other dissidents in Havana, just before a planned demonstration outside the French embassy to criticise the "normalisation" of relations between Cuba and the European Union. Nine of the 33 are still being held, including two others who are to be prosecuted under Law 88, lawyer René Gómez Manzano and political activist Julio César López.
Describing the arrests as a cruel reminder of the "Black Spring" crackdown in 2003, Reporters Without Borders accused the Cuban regime of "once again revealing the full extent of its arbitrary power and paranoia" and said it was probably no coincidence that a journalist, a lawyer and a political activist have been singled out.
Noting that those arrested had wanted to alert the EU about the human rights situation in Cuba, the press freedom organisation said it has written to Prime Minister Tony Blair of Britain, which currently holds the EU presidency, asking the European Union "to reconsider its position as regards Cuba and to apply the necessary pressure so that all the dissidents are released."
González's daughter Elena Isaieva, who lives in exile in the Swedish city of Uppsala, told Reporters Without Borders : "My father has been taken to four different police stations since his arrest. A Havana judge notified about his trial yesterday morning. The trial will probably be quick and the sentence will probably be heavy. My father is 61. It is as if he is going to be sentenced to death. Nonetheless, I was hoping until the last moment."
No date for the trial has yet been set.
When González was summoned and questioned by two state security agents in Havana on 24 March, he was threatened with never seeing his family again if he continued to work as a journalist. He was offered the chance of going to Sweden where his daughter lives, but he refused.
He told Reporters Without Borders afterwards that he would not give up being a journalist and would continue to write. "That is the way he is, he will never give up," his daughter told Reporters Without Borders.
Three of the journalists who have been in prison since March 2003 and who were convicted under Law 88 are members of the Grupo de Trabajo Decoro news agency. They are Héctor Maseda Gutiérrez (who is serving a 20-year prison sentence), Omar Moisés Ruiz Hernández (who was sentenced to 18 years) and José Ubaldo Izquierdo Hernández (sentenced to 16 years).
An emergency law promulgated in March 1999, Law 88 has the stated aim of "responding to the repeated attacks by the United States against Cuba's independence and sovereignty" by punishing "actions which, in accordance with imperialist interests, seek to subvert the nation's internal order and destroy its political, economic and social system." It overrides all preceding legislation and gives the regime a free hand to stifle all dissent under the pretext of resisting foreign aggression
Application of Law 88 in the recent trials
Cuban authorities have consistently presented the crackdown as a response to US aggression; in a recent press conference, for example, Foreign Minister Pérez Roque maintained that Cuba had until now deliberately refrained from applying the strict measures of Law 88, passed in 1999, out of a 'spirit of tolerance:'
the laws which were applied to try the mercenaries who act in the service of the power that is attacking its people, are laws dating from the end of the 90s and that had not been applied, in a spirit of tolerance; they were our response to Helms-Burton; but we have been placed in a situation where we had no other option, and we have acted.(80)
In this way, Law 88 itself is presented as a Cuban response to perceived US aggression, and the crackdown a reaction to a US-led rather than a domestic threat. In another press conference, the Foreign Minister spelled the connection out clearly, concluding a review of the provisions of Law 88 as follows:
It is the North American Interests Section in Havana, and this has been fully proven in the trials, that creates, directs, finances, stimulates, protects the creation and the subversive work of its agents in Cuba. How does it do this ? In fulfillment of the Helms-Burton Law.(81)
Human rights concerns with regard to the charges
Though passed in 1999, this crackdown marks the first time that the provisions of Law 88, described in detail above, have been applied in criminal proceedings in Cuba. This development is of grave concern, as elements of the law, mirroring other aspects of the Cuban legal framework, appear to place unlawful restrictions on internationally-recognised rights.
International standards make clear that the exercise of the right to freedom of expression, among other rights, shall only be subject to restriction on a well-defined and exceptional basis. Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights defines these restrictions as
such as are provided by law and are necessary:
(a) for the respect of the rights or reputations of others;
(b) for the protection of national security or of public order (ordre public), or of public health or morals.(82)
The Human Rights Committee's General Comment on the implementation of article 19 specifies that "when a State party imposes certain restrictions on the exercise of freedom of expression, these may not put in jeopardy the right itself."(83) International jurisprudence has affirmed that any restriction must be strictly proportionate to the threat posed to national security or other legitimate interest, and must not exceed what is strictly necessary to fulfill that aim.
In contrast, as outlined in section 2.3.b above, the Cuban Constitution places clearly excessive limitations on the exercise of fundamental freedoms:
none of the liberties recognised for the citizens can be exercised against what is established by the Constitution and the laws, or against the existence and objectives of the socialist state, or against the decision of the Cuban people to construct socialism and communism.(84)
In this way, the exercise of fundamental freedoms in ways which are perceived to be in any way "against" the system is not Constitutionally protected. Law 88, and other laws within the Cuban system, place further restrictions on these freedoms, in violation of international standards.
Concerns about unlawful restriction of fundamental freedoms lead to related ones with regard to arbitrary detention,(85) whether arrests have taken place under the provisions of Law 88 or article 91 of the Penal Code covering acts against the independence or territorial integrity of the state.
The United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD) has established criteria for determining when detention is arbitrary under international standards. These criteria include when there is no legal grounds for detention; when the deprivation of freedom relates to the exercise of certain freedoms or rights protected by international law; or when the right to fair trial has not been respected.(86) Since its creation in 1991, the WGAD has raised a number of individual cases with the Cuban Government, and has determined that more than twenty individuals were arbitrarily deprived of liberty. The most frequent reason was the criteria pertaining to the exercise of fundamental freedoms and rights. In an open letter on 3 April, the International Federation for Human Rights informed the Cuban government that it was bringing the mass arrests and trials to the attention of the Working Group.(87)
The text of law 88 may be determined to lead to arbitrary detention in some or all cases, in that it imposes unjustifiable limits on freedom of expression, association and assembly based on the potential foreign reaction to or possible economic ramifications of such acts, in violation of international standards as described above.
Equally worrying, the descriptions of a number of the proscribed acts seem so general and vague as to risk being interpreted subjectively and in a manner damaging to fundamental freedoms: such could be the case with article 9 of Law 88 outlawing ‘any act intended to impede or prejudice’ Cuba’s economic relations or the ‘subversive material’ prohibited in the law's article 6. Similarly, with regard to article 91 of the penal code regarding 'an act with the objective of damaging the independence or territorial integrity of the Cuban state,' the behaviour which the article is meant to prohibit is ill-defined and open to subjective interpretation, potentially opening the door to arbitrary detention.
Prosecutions: the case against the dissidents
Amnesty International has reviewed trial documents for 51 of the 75 dissidents prosecuted. The section on individual cases below contains information on the specific charges against given individuals. In general, the prosecutors' briefs accuse the dissidents of
· receiving funds and/or materials from the United States government, either through its agencies or third parties,
· in order to engage in a number of activities which the authorities perceived as subversive and damaging to Cuba's internal order and/or beneficial to the embargo or other punitive measures by the US against Cuba.
As mentioned above, the Helms-Burton Law provides for US funding for individuals and groups to support "democracy-building" efforts in Cuba. In addition, the US funds other initiatives, such as Miami-based Radio Martí, aimed at disseminating within Cuba views critical of Castro and the Cuban system. Foreign Minister Felipe Pérez Roque made extensive references to this funding in his 9 April press release on the trials of the dissidents.(88) Security agents of the Cuban state who had infiltrated dissident groups, and who later testified against some dissidents at their trials, reported regularly receiving and handling funds from various groups in the United States that were in turn financed by agencies of the US government.(89) The text box provided here gives a sample of the information publicly available on such funding.
As also mentioned above, Cuba has consistently expressed outrage at these practices, declaring them, with the US embargo, acts of aggression against Cuba. Cuba has moreover accused the US of an escalation of provocations against Cuba following the posting of James Cason as head of the US Interests Section in Havana.
The dissidents were not charged under articles of the Penal Code covering spying or revelation of secrets concerning state security (articles 95-97), and the evidence given does not point to such activity. None of them held sensitive positions of authority through which they would have access to privileged information. Whatever the merits of the Cuban government's argument with the United States over its practices in Cuba, a review of the limited information contained in the trial documents indicates that the specific behaviour for which dissidents were prosecuted was non-violent and seemed to fall within the parameters of the legitimate exercise of fundamental freedoms rather than those of any recogniseable criminal activity.
According to the trial documents available, the activities on which the prosecutions were based included, among others,
· publishing articles or giving interviews, in US-funded or other media, said to be critical of economic, social or human rights matters in Cuba.
· communicating with international human rights organisations.
· having contact with entities or individuals viewed as hostile to Cuba's interests, including US functionaries in Cuba and hardline figures or groups in the Cuban exile community in the United States and Europe.(90)
· distributing or possessing material, such as radios, battery chargers, video equipment or publications, from the US Interests Section in Havana.
· being involved in groups which have not been officially recognised by the Cuban authorities and which were accused of being counterrevolutionary, including among others unofficial trade unions, professional associations such as doctors' and teachers' associations, academic institutes, press associations and independent libraries.
Despite the Cuban government's claims that such acts threatened national security and therefore warranted prosecution, the above activities constitute legitimate exercise of freedoms of expression, assembly and association, and cannot in themselves justify the authorities' repressive reaction.
Independent publicists whose reports are not in conformity with state policies are explicitly warned, massively threatened and persecuted, and sentenced to many years imprisonment if violating law No. 88. The law No. 88 - "Law for the Protection of the National Independence and Economy of Cuba" - of 1999 is used to impose draconian punishment on Cuban citizens who act "subversively" or deliver information to "enemies abroad". Since 18 March 2003, 27 independent journalists have been imprisoned, nine of whom ran small independent news agencies. Police and State Security Service burst into their houses and confiscated books, written notes, computers, fax machines, type writers and tape recorders. They were all charged with "subversive activities", "enemy propaganda" or "counterrevolutionary activities" and sentenced in summary trials to up to 27 years imprisonment.
According to ISHR information the following 27 Cuban journalists have been imprisoned since March 2003: Víctor Rolando Arroyo (sentenced to 26 years in prison), Pedro Argüelles Morán (sentenced to 20 years in prison), Majail Bárzaga Lugo (sentenced to 15 years in prison), Carmelo Díaz Fernández (sentenced to 15 years in prison), Oscar Espinosa Chepe (sentenced to 20 years in prison), Adolfo Fernández Saínz (sentenced to 15 years in prison), Miguel Galván Gutiérrez (sentenced to 26 years in prison), Julio César Gálvez (sentenced to 15 years in prison), Edel José García (sentenced to 15 years in prison), Roberto García Cabrejas (sentence unknown), Jorge Luis García Paneque (sentenced to 24 years in prison), Ricardo González Alfonso (sentenced to 20 years in prison), Luis González Pentón (sentenced to 20 years in prison), Alejandro González Raga (sentenced to 14 years in prison), Normando Hernández (sentenced to 25 years in prison), Juan Carlos Herrera sentenced to 20 years in prison), José Ubaldo Izquierdo (sentenced to 16 years in prison), Héctor Maseda (sentenced to 20 years in prison), Mario Enrique Mayo (sentenced to 20 years in prison), Jorge Olivera (sentenced to 18 years in prison), Pablo Pacheco Avila (sentenced to 20 years in prison), Fabio Prieto Llorente (sentenced to 20 years in prison), José Gabriel Ramón Castillo (sentenced to 20 years in prison), Raúl Rivero Castañeda (sentenced to 20 years in prison), Omar Rodríguez Saludes (sentenced to 27 years in prison), Omar Ruiz Hernández (sentenced to 18 years in prison), Manuel Vázquez Portal (sentenced to 18 years in prison).
Dissidents tried under harsh and previously unused legislation
Amnesty International has reviewed legal documents from the trials of 51 of the 75 dissidents. Of these, 26 were convicted under article 91 of the Cuban Penal Code for “actos contra la independencia o la integridad territorial del Estado,” “acts against the territorial independence or integrity of the state.” Nineteen others were convicted under Law 88, the Law for the Protection of the National Independence and Economy of Cuba, Ley de Protección de la Independencia Nacional y la Economía de Cuba, and the remaining six were convicted of offences under both of the above.
Law 88 is an explicit Cuban response to a 1996 US law, the Helms-Burton Act, which tightened the US embargo against Cuba and provided for assistance to "democracy-building efforts" on the island. Law 88 mandates stiff prison terms for anyone found guilty of supporting US policy against Cuba.
Amnesty International is concerned by the human rights ramifications of some of the provisions of Law 88, as they impose unacceptable limits on freedom of expression, association and assembly. Dissidents were found guilty of having broken this law by, for example, giving interviews to the US-funded broadcasting station for Cuba Radio Martí, receiving materials or funds believed to have initiated from the US government or having contact with officials of the US Interests Section in Havana whom Cuban authorities had accused of engaging in subversive and provocative behaviour. Based on its concerns, Amnesty International calls on the Cuban authorities to immediately suspend Law 88.
García told CPJ that a state security officer served him notice on February 14, ordering him to appear the following day for a 4 p.m. interview with a state security agent identified as "Moisés." The notice said that failure to attend would be grounds for unspecified criminal charges.
During the two-hour interview, García said, the agent gave him a two-month deadline to stop writing. He told García that if he continued to work as an independent journalist, he could be prosecuted under Law 88 for the Protection of Cuba's National Independence and Economy and could spend many years in jail. Law 88 imposes lengthy prison sentences for committing acts "aimed at subverting the internal order of the nation and destroying its political, economic, and social system."
García writes for the Madrid, Spain-based online daily Encuentro en la Red, which is run by an association of Cuban exiles, and for the Inter American Press Association (IAPA) Web site. García said the agent told him that his stories "were giving the Revolution a bad image" and that the Web sites were financed by the U.S. government.
The agent suggested that Cuban authorities might deny him an exit permit to visit his mother, the former independent journalist Tania Quintero, in Switzerland. Instead, "Moisés" encouraged García to leave the country permanently and settle abroad, the journalist told CPJ.
Pedro ARGÜELLES MORÁN: director of Cooperativa Avileña de Periodistas Independientes (Avileña Independent Journalists Cooperative - CAPI) - 20 years (Transferred in May 2003 from Santa Clara Provincial Prison, Villa Clara to Combinado del Este, Havana) - sentenced under Law 88. *Argüelles (56) reported in March 2004 that he had not been allowed visitors or medicine since November 2003. Also reported that he was suffering from cataracts and had lost a lot of weight.
Mijaíl BÁRZAGA LUGO: journalist (Agencia Noticiosa de Cuba) - 15 years (Santa Clara Provincial Prison, Villa Clara) - sentenced under Law 88. *Reported to have suffered from conjunctivitis after a month in a punishment cell in September/October 2003. Bárzaga is 35-years-old and brother of well known human rights activist Belkis Bárzaga Lugo. Honorary Member: Netherlands PEN
Oscar ESPINOSA CHEPE: economist and journalist (Cubanet) - 20 years (Transferred in early July 2003 from Chafarina, Guantánamo to Boniato, Santiago de Cuba). Sentenced under Articles 7 & 11 of Law 88 ("activities against the integrity and sovereignty of the State") and Article 91. 62-years-old. Reported to be suffering from a chronic kidney condition, a thoracic hernia, hypertension, weight loss and a possible liver disorder. Transferred to Guantánamo Provincial Hospital shortly after being sentenced and thence to Ambrosio Grillo Hospital in Santiago de Cuba, but reportedly not receiving adequate medical attention. Eventually returned to Boniato prison. On 7 August 2003, on becoming ill again, Espinoza was flown to the Finlay Military Hospital in Havana. *Reported in March 2004 to be suffering from cancer. Honorary Member: Netherlands PEN, Swedish PEN
Adolfo FERNÁNDEZ SAÍNZ: journalist (Agencia Patria) - 15 years (Holguín) - sentenced under Law 88. Reported on 3 June 2003 by Russian news agency Prima News to have started a 13-day hunger strike to demand more frequent visiting rights for his relatives. Reported to have started another hunger strike on 15 August 2003, this time with Mario Enrique Mayo and Iván Hernández Carillo, to demand decent food and medicine for seriously ill prisoners. Reported to have begun a third hunger strike on 18 October 2003 with Mario Enrique Mayo in protest at the sending of fellow journalist Iván Hernández Carrillo to a punishment cell. Reported to have been knocked unconscious on 6 December 2003 when he protested against violence used against a fellow prisoner. Honorary Member: English PEN
Julio César GÁLVEZ RODRÍGUEZ: freelance journalist - 15 years (Santa Clara Provincial Prison, Villa Clara) - sentenced under Law 88. Reported in a letter dated 21 July 2003 that he had been diagnosed as suffering from severe cervical arthrosis. *Reported in March 2004 to have been transferred to the Celestino Hernández Robau hospital in Santa Clara suffering from high blood pressure and kidney stones. Honorary Member: English PEN
Edel José GARCÍA: director of Norte Press - 15 years (Boniato, Santiago de Cuba) - sentenced under Law 88.
José Luis GARCÍA PANEQUE: journalist (Agencia Libertad) & librarian (Carlos J Finlay Library) - 24 years (Santa Clara Provisional Prison, Villa Clara) - sentenced under Law 88 and Article 91. Reported to have suffered from mental illness during the first year of his imprisonment.
Iván HERNÁNDEZ CARRILLO: journalist (Agencia Patria) and librarian (Juan Gualberto Gómez Library) - 25 years (Holguín) - sentenced under Law 88. Reported to have started a 13-day hunger strike on 15 August 2003 with Adolfo Fernández Saínz and Mario Enrique Mayo to demand decent food and medicine for seriously ill prisoners. Reportedly transferred to a punishment cell on 17 October 2003, though the reasons for this are not known.
Juan Carlos HERRERA ACOSTA: journalist (Agencia de Prensa Libre Oriental (Eastern Free Press Agency - APLO)) - 20 years (Kilo 7, Camagüey) - sentenced under Law 88. Reported to have begun a hunger strike in protest at prison conditions on 31 August 2003. *Transferred from Boniato prison, Santiago de Cuba, to Kilo 7 prison, Camagüey. In January 2004, Herrera complained of cardio-vascular problems, and the fact that he was being held with potentially dangerous prisoners. It was reported in February 2004 that Herrera had accused Captain Julio César Bombino González of organising a group of prisoners to harass him and steal his possessions. Held a hunger strike with fellow prisoner Léster Luis González Pentón from 18-22 March 2004 to mark their first year in prison. During the hunger strike, Herrera reportedly cut his own legs repeatedly with a knife. The wounds required several stitches. He also suffers from vitiligo, a complaint causing disfigurement of the skin, and reportedly has no access to treatment for it.
José Miguel MARTÍNEZ HERNÁNDEZ: librarian (General Juan Bruno Zayas Library), area representative for the unofficial political group Movimiento 24 de Febrero, and involved in Proyecto Varela* - 13 years (Kilo 8, Camagüey) - sentenced under Law 88.
Héctor Fernando MASEDA GUTIÉRREZ: journalist (Grupo de Trabajo Decoro & CubaNet) - 20 years (Transferred at the end of April 2003 from Manacas, Villa Clara to La Pendiente, Villa Clara) - sentenced under Law 88 and Article 91.
Jorge OLIVERA CASTILLO: director of Havana Press - 18 years (Chafarina, Guantánamo) - sentenced under Law 88. It was reported in May 2003 that, due to illness, Olivera had lost 30 lbs (13 kilos) since beginning his sentence. *It was reported in January 2004 that Olivera (42) was being held in solitary confinement and that he was suffering from high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and from two parasites - jardia and E-Coli.
Pablo PACHECO ÁVILA: journalist (Agencia Patria)- 20 years (Agüica, Matanzas) - sentenced under Law 88.
Iván Hernández Carrillo
Arrested: March 18, 2003
Hernández Carrillo is a journalist with the independent news agency Patria in western Matanzas Province. His one-day summary trial was held in early April behind closed doors. He was tried under Law 88 for the Protection of Cuba’s National Independence and Economy, which imposes up to 20 years in prison for committing acts “aimed at subverting the internal order of the Nation and destroying its political, economic, and social system.” On April 7, the Matanzas Provincial Tribunal announced he had been sentenced to 25 years in prison. The journalist remained imprisoned in the provincial headquarters of the State Security Department until April 24, when he was sent to Holguín Provincial Prison in eastern Holguín Province.
Julio César Gálvez Rodríguez
Arrested: March 18, 2000
Gálvez Rodríguez is a Havana-based independent freelance journalist. His one-day summary trial was held in early April behind closed doors. He was tried under Law 88 for the Protection of Cuba’s National Independence and Economy, which imposes up to 20 years in prison for committing acts “aimed at subverting the internal order of the Nation and destroying its political, economic, and social system.” On April 7, the Havana Provincial Tribunal announced he had been sentenced to 15 years in prison, and on April 24, he was sent to Santa Clara Provincial Prison in central Villa Clara Province.
Pedro Argüelles Morán
Arrested: March 18, 2003
Argüelles Morán is the director of the independent news agency Cooperativa Avileña de Periodistas Independientes in central Ciego de Ávila Province. His one-day summary trial was held in early April behind closed doors. He was tried under Law 88 for the Protection of Cuba’s National Independence and Economy, which imposes up to 20 years in prison for committing acts “aimed at subverting the internal order of the Nation and destroying its political, economic, and social system.” On April 7, the Ciego de Ávila Provincial Tribunal announced he had been sentenced to 20 years in prison. On April 24 the journalist was sent to Santa Clara Provincial Prison in central Villa Clara Province.
Adolfo Fernández Saínz
Arrested: March 19, 2003
Fernández Saínz is a journalist with the independent news agency Patria. His one-day summary trial was held in early April behind closed doors. He was tried under Law 88 for the Protection of Cuba’s National Independence and Economy, which imposes up to 20 years in prison for committing acts “aimed at subverting the internal order of the Nation and destroying its political, economic, and social system.” On April 7, the Havana Provincial Tribunal announced he had been sentenced to 15 years in prison. On April 24, the journalist was sent to Holguín Provincial Prison in eastern Holguín Province.
Fabio Prieto Llorente
Arrested: March 19, 2003
Prieto Llorente is an independent freelance journalist based in western Isla de la Juventud Special Municipality. His one-day summary trial was held in early April behind closed doors. He was tried under Law 88 for the Protection of Cuba’s National Independence and Economy, which imposes up to 20 years in prison for committing acts “aimed at subverting the internal order of the Nation and destroying its political, economic, and social system.” On April 7, the Isla de la Juventud Special Tribunal announced he had been sentenced to 20 years in prison. In May, the journalist was sent to Guanajay Prison in western Habana Province.
Héctor Maseda Gutiérrez
Arrested: March 19, 2003
Maseda Gutiérrez is a journalist with the independent news agency Grupo de Trabajo Decoro. His one-day summary trial was held in early April behind closed doors. He 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”; and under Law 88 for the Protection of Cuba’s National Independence and Economy, which imposes up to 20 years in prison for committing acts “aimed at subverting the internal order of the Nation and destroying its political, economic, and social system.” On April 7, the Havana Provincial Tribunal announced he had been sentenced to 20 years in prison. In May, the journalist was transferred to La Pendiente Prison, also in Villa Clara Province.
Juan Carlos Herrera Acosta
Arrested: March 19, 2003
Herrera Acosta is a journalist with the independent news agency Agencia de Prensa Libre Oriental in eastern Guantánamo Province, is one of 29 independent Cuban journalists who were detained in March. His one-day summary trial was held in early April behind closed doors. He was tried under Law 88 for the Protection of Cuba’s National Independence and Economy, which imposes up to 20 years in prison for committing acts “aimed at subverting the internal order of the Nation and destroying its political, economic, and social system.” On April 7, the Guantánamo Provincial Tribunal announced he had been sentenced to 20 years in prison. In November, the journalist was transferred to Kilo 7 Prison, also in Camagüey.
Mijaíl Bárzaga Lugo
Arrested: March 19, 2003
Bárzaga Lugo, a journalist with the independent news agency Agencia Noticiosa Cubana. His one-day summary trial was held in early April behind closed doors. He was tried under Law 88 for the Protection of Cuba’s National Independence and Economy, which imposes up to 20 years in prison for committing acts “aimed at subverting the internal order of the Nation and destroying its political, economic, and social system.” On April 7, the Havana Provincial Tribunal announced he had been sentenced to 15 years in prison. On April 24, the journalist was sent to Santa Clara Provincial Prison in central Villa Clara Province.
Pablo Pacheco Ávila
Arrested: March 19, 2003
Pacheco Ávila is a journalist with the independent news agency Cooperativa Avileña de Periodistas Independientes. His one-day summary trial was held in early April behind closed doors. He was tried under Law 88 for the Protection of Cuba’s National Independence and Economy, which imposes up to 20 years in prison for committing acts “aimed at subverting the internal order of the Nation and destroying its political, economic, and social system.” On April 7, the Ciego de Ávila Provincial Tribunal announced he had been sentenced to 20 years in prison. On April 24, the journalist was sent to Agüica Prison in western Matanzas Province.
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