On April 22nd Cuba’s political police arrested independent journalist and blogger Diana Virgen Garcia whose news blog which launched in January, reports on the violence and repression against other independent reporters on the Caribbean island. García is also a human rights activist who openly supports the Ladies in White movement, a group that the government has suppressed and prevented from demonstrating on several occasions.
Garcia was taken to court the day after her arrest and sentenced to one year and eight months in prison on charges that had not yet been made known. The president of the Centre for Human Rights and Democracy Brigade 2506, Segundo Miranda, brought the fact to light, while Cuba’s official press – the newspapers Granma and Juventud Rebelde – did not report on it.
IAPA President Alejandro Aguirre, editor of the Miami, Florida, Spanish-language newspaper Diario Las Americas, declared: “We continue seeing the same story of restriction of freedom of expression in Cuba,” adding, “while we wait for word on the fate of the famous blogger Yoani Sanchez, who was harassed on a number of occasions, other women and men are being persecuted by a government that threatens, restricts, censors, tries and convicts offhandedly.”
With the imprisonment of Garcia, the only woman to date, there are 26 journalists behind bars in Cuba. Many are in poor health, a fact which has set off protests calling for their release; independent reporter Guillermo Farinas, who has been on hunger strike for several weeks, is among those held prisoner.
Arrested in Holguin on the morning of April 24 was Yosvani Anzardo Hernandez, editor of the independent newspaper Candonga. His wife, Lourdes Maria Yen Rodríguez, reported that two State Security officers came to their home in the town of San German and arrested her husband. The family does not know the motive for his arrest. In September 2009 Hernandez spent 15 days in jail after his home was raided and his electronic equipment seized.
The chairman of the IAPA’s Committee on Freedom of the Press and Information, Robert Rivard, editor of the San Antonio Express-News, Texas, repeated the organization’s call for the unconditional release of imprisoned journalists, in particular those who for humanitarian reasons should have their rights respected.
The IAPA lists the following 26 imprisoned journalists: Convicted in 2003 Ricardo Gonzalez Alfonso, Víctor Rolando Arroyo, Normando Hernandez Gonzalez, Julio Cesar Galvez, Adolfo Fernandez Sainz, Omar Rodríguez Saludes, Hector Maseda Gutierrez, Mijaíl Barzaga Lugo, Pedro Arguelles Moran, Pablo Pacheco Avila, Alfredo Pulido Lopez, Fabio Prieto Llorente, Ivan Hernandez Carrillo, Jose Luis Garía Paneque, Juan Carlos Herrera, Miguel Galvan Gutierrez, Jose Ubaldo Izquierdo, Omar Ruiz Hernandez, Lester Luis Gonzalez Penton and Alfredo Felipe Fuentes; in 2006 Alberto Gil Triay and Raymundo Perdigon Brito; in 2007 Ramon Velazquez Toranso and Oscar Sanchez Madan; in 2009 Alberto Santiago Du Bouchet and in 2010 Dania Virgen Garcia.
from BBC Monitoring