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Cuba

2011

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José Luis García Paneque, center, at a news conference in Madrid in July, with other freed Cuban journalists. (Reuters/Andrea Comas)

On March 18, 2003, I got up early as usual, connected my shortwave radio receiver, and tuned into a number of radio stations in the south of Florida in search of the day's most important news. As always, the radio interference was brutal and made it hard to hear. Still, I had to make the effort to obtain even a minimum amount of information that, as an independent journalist, would permit me to counter the official news provided by the regime through our small news agency, Agencia Libertad. 

Maseda holds a document proving his release from prison next to his wife, Laura Pollán. (AP/Franklin Reyes)

Almost three weeks after being released from jail following eight years of inhumane treatment in Cuba's infamous prison system, CPJ's 2008 International Press Freedom award winner Héctor Maseda Gutiérrez said he is committed to going back to independent journalism. "That's my will, and I have decided to do it here in Havana," Maseda said in a telephone conversation from Cuba's capital.

Gálvez Rodríguez shows his passport to the media after his arrival in Spain. (Reuters)

The clouds of exile are twice as bitter. Being forced from your birthplace and into legal limbo in the land of your grandparents where you're met by complete official abandonment only deepens the wounds. My gloominess has nothing to do with the affection and solidarity shown by the Spanish people, especially the citizens of Madrid. Thanks to many of them my family--my wife and my little 5-year-old Emmanuel--have clothes and shoes. We arrived with nothing. Or worse yet: We arrived loaded down with the heavy baggage of my long imprisonment.

Juan Carlos Herrera Acosta arrives in Spain in August. (AFP)

I was born beneath the yoke of a tyranny, now more than 50 years old, in which prison is the only destination for its deterrents. I first came across this destination in 1997, when I was sentenced to five years in prison for the alleged crime of committing an outrage "against state security." In Cuba, besides being a journalist, I was the coordinator of the Cuban Youth for Democracy Movement, an organization that defends the many truncated rights within higher learning institutions, such as a university's autonomy. The answer to our demands? Prison. 

2011

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Attacks on the Press 2012

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Americas

Senior Program Coordinator:
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