Cuba Sentences Juan Carlos Martínez
to One Year of Forced Labor
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His Excellency Fidel Castro Ruz
President of Cuba c/o
United NationsMission
New York, NY

 

Protest this attack on the press.
Send a fax to:

(212) 779-1697

June 18, 1998

 

Your Excellency,

 

The Committee to Protect Journalists is writing to express its concern for independent journalist Juan Carlos Recio Martínez, who began serving a sentence of twelve months of forced labor on June 15. Recio Martínez was convicted in February for "Acts against the Security of the State" and sentenced to one year of agricultural labor.

The conviction stems from an incident in October, 1997 in which Recio Martínez, who works as the Villa Clara correspondent for the Buró de Prensa Independiente de Cuba (BPIC), received a written statement from opposition activist Cecilio Monteagudo Sánchez exhorting Cubans to abstain from voting in the upcoming elections. Even though Recio Martínez did not publish a story on the document, he was convicted for failing to notify the Interior Ministry that he had received it.

Recio Martínez is serving his sentence in the Abel Santamaría agricultural cooperative in Villa Clara province. While he is permitted to leave the cooperative after his work is completed each day, we view mandatory forced labor as a form of confinement and therefore intend to include Recio Martínez in our list of imprisoned Cuban journalists, along with Lorenzo Páez Núñez and Bernardo Arévalo Padrón. Páez Núñez was jailed for defamation on July 10, 1997 and sentenced to 18 months in prison; Arévalo Padrón was convicted on October 31, 1997 and sentenced to six years in prison for showing a "lack of respect" toward Your Excellency and Vice President Carlos Lage.

As an organization of journalists dedicated to the defense of our colleagues around the world, we believe that journalists should never be jailed on account of their work. The incarceration of Recio Martínez is also a violation of Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which guarantees the right to "receive and impart information and ideas through any media regardless of frontiers."

We urge you to use your authority as President of Cuba to pardon Recio Martínez, Páez Núñez, and Arévalo Padrón. We also urge you comply with international law by ensuring that Cuban journalists are free to practice their profession without fear of reprisal.

Sincerely,

William A. Orme, Jr.

Executive Director