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Unexpected departure: From jail to exile

Saludes in Spain. It was about 4 in the afternoon on July 8 when the official assigned to me at Toledo Prison, where I'd been locked up for nearly five years, came running to get me. He was in such a hurry that that he tripped and almost fell to the ground. "Saludes, we're going upstairs," he said, breathless and sweating. He didn't give me any more details, but I soon found out that he was taking me up to the director's office where State Security was waiting for me. "They've come to talk to me," I told myself. And they had.

At the chief's desk sat an agent of the political police. I didn't recognize his face, but he had the same harshness and arrogance as all members of that repressive body. As soon as I entered the office, the agent signaled me silently to pick up the telephone receiver lying unhooked on the desk.   

December 28, 2010 10:00 AM ET

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Blog   |   Cuba

Being a Cuban journalist: Harassed, repressed, and jailed

In Pinar del Río, where the author lived, worked, and went to jail for reporting on the failings of the Cuban regime. (AP/Javier Galeano) The president of the tribunal looked to his right and said, "The prosecutor has the floor." With a serious voice he pronounced the sentence: "The prosecutor ratifies the request for perpetual imprisonment for the accused, Victor Rolando Arroyo Carmona, for acts against the independence and territorial integrity of the country."
December 14, 2010 9:50 AM ET

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Blog   |   Cuba

Trying to forget: Torture haunts freed Cuban journalist

Normando Hernández González testifies at the European Parliament in September. Free after six years in a Cuban prison, the journalist says he suffered torture in custody. (AP) I long to forget, but cannot. To erase from my memory the murmurs of suffering, the plaintive screams of torture, the screeching bars, the unmistakable music of padlocks, the garrulous sentinels...
November 30, 2010 9:42 AM ET

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Blog   |   Cuba

Finding freedom in a Cuban cell

Freed Cuban journalist Ricardo González Alfonso, center, speaks in front of the Subcommittee on Human Rights at the European Parliament in Brussels on September 13. (AFP) There exists a sensual, amorous liaison, almost felt and seen, that binds poetry, journalism, and freedom together. Examples of such affairs abound, their protagonists transcending short-lived fame and bursting into history and onto the pages of encyclopedias. They are the greats, the masters, those worthy of veneration. But intellectual stature is not always required of the protagonists of such liaisons. Sometimes history, written with a lowercase "h," concedes us the privilege of participating in those passions of ink and paper, as they say, of flesh and blood. The paths are varied. In fact, paradoxically, prison can lead to freedom.

November 16, 2010 9:30 AM ET

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Blog   |   Cuba, Spain

Cuban deadline passes for dissident releases: What next?

A woman in Havana holds a sign that reads: "My support will be eternal for freedom and justice" at a weekly march by members of the Cuban dissident group Ladies in White. (AP)

Sunday marked the end of the four-month deadline Cuban President Raúl Castro had agreed to with representatives of the Cuban Catholic Church and the Spanish government to free 52 prisoners of conscience who remained in jail since the March 2003 crackdown against dissidents, known as the "Black Spring." The Spanish foreign minister at the time, Miguel Angel Moratinos, said in Havana on July 8 that the move to release the prisoners "opens a new era in Cuba." But have things changed in the EU regarding Cuba? Not really. Has anything changed on the island? Not really. On Monday, at midnight, 13 of the 52 prisoners remained in jailed. 

Blog   |   Cuba, Spain

In Cuban releases, difficult choices, moral dilemmas

Newly freed Cuban journalists and their families on a bus taking them from Madrid Barajas Airport. (AP/Victor R. Caivano) The Havana government has not explicitly demanded that political prisoners go into exile as a condition of release, but it’s clear that’s what Cuban authorities want. The first journalists and dissidents to be freed from jail were immediately whisked away to Spain, which, along with the Catholic Church, had negotiated for their freedom. That leaves political prisoners with a terrible dilemma: fly to Spain or stay in jail, at least for a while. Thus emerges a moral dimension when assessing news of up to 52 Cuban prisoners, including numerous journalists, being released in the coming weeks. Can a human being live happily in a land he or she never chose? Will they find in Spain, or in some other foreign country, the paradise of freedom they deserve?

July 14, 2010 1:35 PM ET

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Blog   |   Cuba, Spain

Photos of freedom: Cubans arrive in Spain

Our colleagues at ABC in Madrid covered the arrival in Spain of the newly freed Cuban journalists and dissidents. Photos in this slideshow are by ABC’s Jaime Garcia.

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Blog   |   Cuba, Spain

Video: Formerly jailed Cuban journalists off to Spain

Reuters put together this video showing supporters waiting in the Cuban airport for the departure of six Cuban journalists for Spain today after their release from prison. Journalists were apparently kept at a distance, so there are no shots of the six here. But, interestingly, the Reuters reporter considers why Raul Castro may have chosen this moment to release 52 political prisoners, including the journalists.

July 13, 2010 10:45 AM ET

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Blog   |   Cuba

In Cuban releases, victory came from failure

While the Cuban government remains silent over Antonio Villarreal, Léster González Pentón, Luis Milán, José Luis García Paneque, and Pablo Pacheco Ávila—the five imprisoned Cuban journalists and dissidents to be released soon—the media are filled with headlines declaring victory for many.

2010

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