No sooner had Raúl Castro returned to Havana from Chile, where he was sworn in as president of the Comunidad de Estados Latinoamericanos y Caribeños (Community of Latin American and Caribbean States—CELAC), than Reporters Without Borders repeated his own words back to him, Frank Calzon writes for Americas Quarterly.
The French-based NGO released a letter urging the Cuban leader to release imprisoned journalists and to reject the “aggression, threats and use of force” he mentioned during his CELAC acceptance speech.
During the CELAC summit, Castro had said he had “total respect for international law and the United Nations Charter.” In response, RSF requested “that these undertakings quickly be given concrete expression in your own country.”
RSF applauded Cuba’s migration law reforms [which allow Cubans to travel abroad without an exit permit and with a guaranteed right to return], though they demanded that the new reforms be applied to all citizens without distinction, including dissident blogger Yoani Sánchez, who recently obtained a passport. …..
“The door should also be open for all the journalists and dissidents who want to come back after being forced into exile, and for all those in Cuba who would now like to travel,” RSF said.
The statement also urged the Cuban government to ratify the two UN conventions on civil and political rights that it signed in 2008 and listed four Cuban independent journalists unjustly imprisoned:
Calixto Ramón Martínez Arias (right), who has been detained for nearly five months and is facing a possible three-year jail term for “insulting the head of state.” …
Luis Antonio Torres, a journalist employed by the state-owned daily Granma, sentenced to 14 years in prison in July 2012 on unsubstantiated spying charges after reporting on the negative consequences of certain infrastructure projects.
Ángel Santiesteban-Prats, a writer and winner of various prizes, sentenced to five years in prison on December 8 for criticizing the Cuban government in his blog.
Independent journalist Héctor Julio Cedeño, arrested in Havana on February 5 for photographing state inspectors harassing street vendors.
Frank Calzon is a guest blogger to AQ Online. He is the Executive Director of the Center for a Free Cuba, a grantee of the National Endowment for Democracy.