Reports   |   Cuba

The Imprisoned

Compiled by María Salazar as of March 3, 2008

JAILED in the 2003 crackdown:
Pedro Argüelles Morán, Cooperativa Avileña de Periodistas Independientes
IMPRISONED: March 18, 2003

Argüelles Morán was working as director of the independent news agency Cooperativa Avileña de Periodistas Independientes in the central province of Ciego de Ávila when he was arrested on the first day of the massive crackdown in March 2003. In April of that year, he was summarily tried and sentenced to 20 years in prison under Law 88 for the Protection of Cuba's National Independence and Economy.

Argüelles Morán, a cartographer, joined the dissident group Comité Cubano por los Derechos Humanos (Cuban Committee for Human Rights) in 1992. According to the Miami-based Web site PayoLibre, he began working a year later as an independent journalist under the pseudonym Pedro del Sol. Starting in 1995, Argüelles Morán wrote bylined articles critical of the Cuban regime for several independent agencies. He has continued writing since his imprisonment, publishing articles on overseas news Web sites.

In 2008, the 60-year-old journalist was being held at Canaleta Prison in his home province. CPJ research showed that he had been transferred from prison to prison several times. His wife, Yolanda Vera Nerey, told CPJ that her husband had developed several ailments during his imprisonment, while other health conditions had worsened.

Víctor Rolando Arroyo Carmona, Unión de Periodistas y Escritores Cubanos Independientes
IMPRISONED: March 18, 2003

Arroyo Carmona, a geographer from the western province of Pinar del Río, was a journalist for the independent news agency Unión de Periodistas y Escritores Cubanos Independientes at the time of his arrest in March 2003. He also directed a local independent library belonging to Proyecto Varela, which boasted one of the largest collections of books not controlled by the Cuban government.

Arroyo Carmona was arrested after a state security raid on his home, during which officials confiscated a computer, a fax machine, and a camera, according to Nueva Prensa Cubana, a Miami-based group dedicated to the protection and promotion of the independent press in Cuba. In April 2003, he was summarily tried and sentenced to 26 years in prison under Article 91 of the penal code for acting "against the independence or the territorial integrity of the state."

He had been handed two prison sentences before. The first, for 18 months, came in 1996 for the unauthorized publication of his book El Tabaco (Tobacco), which detailed tobacco cultivation in Pinar del Río. He was arrested again in 2000 while buying toys for an independent charitable foundation and charged with "hoarding public goods," for which he served a six-month term.

In 2005, Arroyo Carmona was sent to Holguín Provincial Prison in eastern Cuba, where he staged a two-week hunger strike to protest his imprisonment. His sister, Blanca Arroyo Carmona, told CPJ that in 2007, her brother shared a barracks with numerous hardened prisoners. Arroyo Carmona, 55, has been diagnosed with diabetes, hypertension, and a case of pulmonary emphysema worsened by inmates' cigarette smoke and the prison's lack of ventilation.

Miguel Galván Gutiérrez, Havana Press
IMPRISONED: March 18, 2003

Galván Gutiérrez was born in 1965 in Havana. A mechanical engineer with several graduate degrees, he joined the independent Colegio de Ingenieros y Arquitectos de Cuba (College of Engineers and Architects of Cuba) in 1999 and was subsequently expelled from his job for having opinions that ran counter to those of the regime, the Miami-based Web site PayoLibre reported.

In February 2002, Galván Gutiérrez began reporting for the independent news agency Havana Press. He was arrested in March 2003 and tried under Article 91 of the penal code for acting "against the independence or the territorial integrity of the state." Following a one-day closed-door trial on April 7, 2003, Galván Gutiérrez was sentenced to 26 years in prison.

In 2004, while at the maximum security Agüica Prison in western Matanzas province, Galván Gutiérrez was placed in solitary confinement and later moved into a cell with hardened criminals, who were encouraged by prison authorities to attack him, according to the Miami-based news Web site CubaNet. In August 2007, authorities transferred the journalist to Guanajay Prison in his home province, where conditions were better, his sister, Teresa Galván Gutiérrez, told CPJ.

Julio César Gálvez Rodríguez, freelance
IMPRISONED: March 18, 2003

Gálvez Rodríguez started his journalism career as a sports commentator in 1977. According to the Miami-based Web site PayoLibre, Gálvez Rodríguez had a promising career in the official media, where he worked as an editor, a presenter, and a scriptwriter until 2001, when he resigned to work as a freelance reporter. His wife, Beatriz del Carmen Pedroso, is also an independent journalist.

Gálvez Rodríguez was tried in April 2003 under Law 88 for the Protection of Cuba's National Independence and Economy. He was sentenced to 15 years in prison for "aiming at subverting the internal order of the nation and destroying its political, economic, and social system." In June 2003, the People's Supreme Tribunal, Cuba's highest court, upheld his conviction.

He has been transferred to different prisons over the years, and has been repeatedly admitted to local hospitals for months at a time with different ailments, stepson Lionel Pérez Pedroso told CPJ. In 2008, Gálvez Rodríguez, 63, was being held at Havana's Combinado del Este Prison, where his family was allowed only one visit per month.

José Luis García Paneque, Libertad
IMPRISONED: March 18, 2003

García Paneque, a physician who specialized in plastic surgery, was fired in 1997 from Ernesto Guevara Hospital in eastern Las Tunas in retaliation for his participation in dissident activities, according to the Movimiento Cubano de Jóvenes por la Democracia (Cuban Youth for Democracy Movement). In 1998, he joined the independent news agency Libertad, and three years later, he was named its director.

He was tried and convicted in April 2003 under Article 91 of the penal code for acting "against the independence or the territorial integrity of the state." Authorities sentenced him to 24 years in prison.

Following a number of prison transfers, García Paneque was sent to Las Mangas Prison in the eastern Granma province in November 2005, said his wife, Yamilé Llánez Labrada. In 2007, she told CPJ that her husband's health had deteriorated significantly since he was first imprisoned. According to CPJ research, the 42-year-old has been diagnosed with a kidney tumor, internal bleeding, malnutrition, and chronic pneumonia.

In early 2007, because of continuous harassment, Llánez Labrada and her four young children were forced to flee Cuba for the United States, she told CPJ.

Ricardo González Alfonso, freelance
IMPRISONED: March 18, 2003

A scriptwriter for the state-owned Televisión Cubana and a poet, González Alfonso joined the independent news agency Cuba Press in 1995 as its deputy director, according to a biographical note published in his poetry compilation Hombres sin Rostros (Men Without Faces). In 2001, he founded the Manuel Márquez Sterling Journalist Association. A year later, he started the newsmagazine De Cuba, which earned a special citation from Columbia University's Mariah Moors Cabot Prizes, which recognize outstanding reporting on Latin America.

González Alfonso also worked as a freelance reporter alongside his wife, independent journalist Alida de Jesús Viso Bello. His stories on everyday life in Cuba were published in foreign media outlets, including The Miami Herald and U.S.-based Radio Martí. A fierce believer in freedom of expression and information, he was Havana's correspondent for the Paris-based press freedom group Reporters Without Borders and the director of the Biblioteca Jorge Mañach, an independent library, his sister Graciela González-Degard told CPJ.

He was detained on the first day of the 2003 crackdown after a raid on his home, which doubled as an office for the independent journalist association Sociedad de Periodistas Manuel Márquez Sterling. According to official documents, state security agents confiscated a fax machine, a telephone, a tape recorder, typewriters, a radio, a video camera and a still camera, two computers, a printer, several books, and copies of De Cuba, among other things. In April, the Havana Provincial Tribunal sentenced him to 20 years in prison under Article 91 of the Cuban penal code for acts "against the independence or the territorial integrity of the state."

González Alfonso was initially jailed hundreds of miles from his home. The People's Supreme Tribunal, Cuba's highest court, upheld his conviction after a June 2003 appeal. In 2005, he was transferred to Havana's Combinado del Este Prison, where he has been held in solitary confinement and has been harassed by hardened criminals.

The 58-year-old reporter has been diagnosed with hypertension, arthritis, allergies, and several digestive and circulatory ailments. He has suffered from hepatitis and has had four different surgeries for problems linked to his digestive tract, according to family members.

Léster Luis González Pentón, freelance
IMPRISONED: March 18, 2003

González Pentón, 31, was trained as a baker. In 1998, he became a member of the dissident Partido Pro Derechos Humanos (Pro Human Rights Party). He continued to be involved with human rights groups until 2002, when he began working full-time as an independent reporter, according to the Miami-based Web site PayoLibre.

In 2003, González Pentón was working as a freelance journalist in the central province of Villa Clara. He was arrested on March 18. Weeks later, the Villa Clara Provincial Tribunal sentenced him to 20 years in prison under Article 91 of the penal code for acting "against the independence or the territorial integrity of the state."

González Pentón was transferred several times among different prisons before being sent to Villa Clara Provincial Prison. His mother, Mireya de la Caridad Pentón, told CPJ that her son has been diagnosed with chronic gastritis, sinusitis, and lower back pain. In addition, she said, his imprisonment and the separation from his young daughter, Claudia, have caused him severe anxiety.

Iván Hernández Carrillo, Patria
IMPRISONED: March 18, 2003

At the time of his arrest in March 2003, Hernández Carrillo lived with his elderly grandmother in Colón, a city in western Matanzas. He worked as a correspondent for the independent news agency Patria, and was his grandmother's sole provider.

In the early 1990s, Hernández Carrillo had been expelled from a local university, where he was studying computer engineering, for participating in dissident activities, according to the Miami-based Web site PayoLibre. In 1992, he was convicted of distributing "enemy propaganda and disrespecting Fidel Castro," for which he served two years in prison. In 2002, he became Patria's correspondent in Colón.

On April 7, 2003, Hernández Carrillo was sentenced to 25 years in prison following a summary trial under Law 88 for the Protection of Cuba's National Independence and Economy.

Since then, he has been transferred among several prisons, and has waged multiple hunger strikes. In 2005, Hernández Carrillo was placed at Pre Prison in central Villa Clara, close to his home. The 36-year-old is permitted family visits only once every two months, according to foreign press reports.

Alfredo Pulido López, El Mayor
IMPRISONED: March 18, 2003

In April 2003, Pulido López, then director of the independent news agency El Mayor in Camagüey, was sentenced to 14 years in prison. He was tried under Article 91 of the penal code for acting "against the independence or the territorial integrity of the state."

Pulido López, 47, studied medicine at the Instituto Superior de Ciencias Médicas in Camagüey. He worked as a dentist until 1998, when he was expelled from his practice for becoming a member of the dissident Movimiento Cristiano Liberación (Christian Liberation Movement). In 2001, he joined the independent news agency El Mayor, and soon became its director. The oldest of four brothers, he is married to Rebeca Rodríguez Souto.

Pulido López was first jailed in Havana. There, he began several hunger strikes to protest his imprisonment and was held in solitary confinement for a year, Rodríguez Souto told CPJ. In August 2004, he was transferred to Kilo 7 Prison in Camagüey, where he was being held in 2008.

Pulido López has been diagnosed with chronic bronchitis, high blood pressure, hypoglycemia, osteoporosis, and loss of eyesight. He has lost a significant amount of weight and has complained to his wife of depression.

Omar Rodríguez Saludes, Nueva Prensa Cubana
IMPRISONED: March 18, 2003

Rodríguez Saludes, 42, started working as an independent photojournalist in 1995, according to the Miami-based Web site PayoLibre. In March 2003, when he was arrested, he was the Havana director for the independent news agency Nueva Prensa Cubana.

The photojournalist, who also worked on several documentaries, was tried in April 2003 under Article 91 of the penal code for acting "against the independence or territorial integrity of the state," and was handed a 27-year prison sentence. He is married to Ileana Marrero Joa, with whom he has three children.

In 2008, Rodríguez Saludes was being held at Toledo Prison in Havana, where his wife said he was in overall good health. The photographer has been diagnosed with gastrointestinal ailments and hypertension.

Mijaíl Barzaga Lugo, Agencia Noticiosa Cubana
IMPRISONED: March 19, 2003

Barzaga Lugo, a reporter for the independent news agency Agencia Noticiosa Cubana, was tried and convicted under Law 88 for the Protection of Cuba's National Independence and Economy in April 2003. He was given a 15-year prison sentence.

The reporter has been held at the maximum security Agüica Prison since 2005, his sister, Elquis Barzaga Lugo, told CPJ. As of 2008, Barzago Lugo, 40, shared a cell with 16 other inmates, and was allowed family visits every six weeks. His sister said authorities allowed the family to give him medicine but not always food during the visits. 

Adolfo Fernández Saínz, Patria
IMPRISONED: March 19, 2003

Fernández Saínz, 59, studied English language and literature at Havana University before leaving on a three-year humanitarian mission to Ethiopia, according to the Miami-based Web site PayoLibre. For 10 years, he worked as a government interpreter. During an economic crisis in the early 1990s, he became troubled by contradictions in official documents he was translating and decided to resign from his job, PayoLibre reported. Fernández Saínz subsequently joined the Partido Solidaridad Democrática (Democratic Solidarity Party) and began writing articles on everyday life in Cuba for local independent news agencies and foreign media outlets.

In 2003, he worked as Havana correspondent for the independent news agency Patria. On the afternoon of March 19, he was arrested following a state security raid on his home. He was tried and convicted under Law 88, which punishes anyone who commits acts "aiming at subverting the internal order of the nation and destroying its political, economic, and social system." Authorities handed him a 15-year prison sentence, which was upheld in June 2003 by the People's Supreme Tribunal, Cuba's highest court.

Fernández Saínz was transferred among several Cuban prisons before being sent to Canaleta Prison in central Ciego de Ávila province, hundreds of miles from his home in Havana. He suffers from chronic hypertension, emphysema, osteoporosis, and a kidney cyst, CPJ research shows. His wife, Julia Núñez Pacheco, said the reporter was permitted family visits only once every two months.

Alfredo Felipe Fuentes, freelance
IMPRISONED: March 19, 2003

At the time of the crackdown in March 2003, Fuentes worked as a freelance reporter in his hometown of Artemisa in the western Havana province. After his arrest, he was tried and convicted under Article 91 of the Cuban penal code for acting "against the independence or the territorial integrity of the state." He was sentenced to 26 years in prison.

His wife, Loyda Valdés González, said Fuentes holds a degree in economics. In 1991, he was fired from his government job for lacking loyalty to the Communist Party. As a response, Fuentes joined human rights groups in Artemisa and began writing for the local independent press. Because of his involvement in activities considered antirevolutionary by the Cuban regime, Fuentes was harassed by local authorities throughout the 1990s and early 2000s, his wife wrote in an account on the Miami-based Web site PayoLibre.

The 58-year-old Fuentes is serving his sentence at Kilo 5 1/2 Prison in the province of Pinar del Río. Valdés González told CPJ that her husband has lost a significant amount of weight and that he suffers from chronic and severe back problems.

Normando Hernández González, Colegio de Periodistas Independientes de Camagüey
IMPRISONED: March 19, 2003

Hernández González, 38, began his career as an independent journalist in 1999. Until his arrest in March 2003, he published articles in foreign media outlets on the Cuban health system, the judicial system, education, culture, agriculture, and tourism, according to the official charges against him as detailed on the Miami-based news Web site CubaNet.

At the time of his arrest, Hernández González worked as director of the news agency Colegio de Periodistas Independientes de Camagüey. He and his wife, Yaraí Reyes Marín, had just celebrated their daughter's first birthday.

Following a one-day summary trial in April 2003, Hernández González was sentenced to 25 years in prison under Article 91 of the penal code, which punishes those who act "against the independence and territorial integrity of the state."According to CPJ research, he was transferred to several different prisons over the next few years. In September 2006, Hernández González was sent to the maximum security Kilo 7 Prison in his home province of Camagüey, Reyes Marín told CPJ.

Hernández González has been diagnosed with intestinal ailments that have made it difficult for him to eat and have caused a significant loss of weight. He has also suffered from pneumonia, while prison doctors told him in 2007 that he had tested positive for tuberculosis, though he had not yet developed symptoms of the disease. Reyes Marín said she requested medical parole for her husband in July 2006, but Cuban authorities did not respond.

Juan Carlos Herrera Acosta, Agencia de Prensa Libre Oriental
IMPRISONED: March 19, 2003

Herrera Acosta, a trained metalworker and cook, was unable to find work because of his political views, according to a posting by Cuban opposition leader Oswaldo Payá on his self-named Web site. In 1996, Herrera Acosta joined the dissident Movimiento Cubano de Jóvenes por la Democracia (Cuban Youth for Democracy Movement). A year later, he was sentenced to a five-year prison term on antistate charges, Payá and others wrote.

Upon his conditional release from prison in 2001, Herrera Acosta became an independent reporter. While working as the Guantánamo correspondent for the Agencia de Prensa Libre Oriental (Eastern Free Press Agency), in April 2003, he was again brought to trial. Convicted under Law 88 for the Protection of Cuba's National Independence and Economy, he was sentenced to 20 years in prison.

Since then, Herrera Acosta has consistently protested his imprisonment with hunger strikes, self-inflicted wounds, and anti-Castro slogans, CPJ research shows. In turn, prison authorities have mistreated him and subjected him to arbitrary prison transfers, according to press reports.

José Ubaldo Izquierdo Hernández, Grupo de Trabajo Decoro
IMPRISONED: March 19, 2003

Izquierdo Hernández, a reporter in the western Havana province for the independent news agency Grupo de Trabajo Decoro, was sentenced to 16 years in prison following an April 2003 trial. He was charged with acting "against the independence or the territorial integrity of the state" under Article 91 of the penal code. The People's Supreme Tribunal upheld his conviction upon appeal in June 2003.

Izquierdo Hernández, 42, had links to several opposition parties and human rights groups in his hometown of Güines. As a journalist for Grupo de Trabajo Decoro, he reported on everyday life in Cuba, according to the Miami-based Web site PayoLibre. His stories appeared on overseas media outlets such as Radio Martí and the news Web site CubaNet, both based in Miami.

Izquierdo Hernández has been hospitalized numerous times during his imprisonment. CPJ research shows that he has been diagnosed with a series of digestive ailments and circulatory problems, as well as emphysema and asthma. In 2007, news reports said that he was receiving inadequate medical care at Guanajay Prison in his home province, where he was then being held.

Héctor Maseda Gutiérrez, Grupo de Trabajo Decoro
IMPRISONED: March 19, 2003

An electronic engineer with a graduate degree in nuclear physics, Maseda Gutiérrez was expelled from his government job in retaliation for his political views. According to his wife, Laura Pollán Toledo, he began working as an independent journalist in 1995. Four years later, he became a founding member of the independent news agency Grupo de Trabajo Decoro.

CPJ research shows that Maseda Gutiérrez, 65, wrote about social, economic, environmental, and historical issues that were ignored by the official Cuban press. His articles appeared in independent Cuban media based abroad, such as the newsmagazine Encuentro de la Cultura Cubana and the news Web sites Encuentro en la Red and CubaNet. Before being jailed, Maseda Gutiérrez worked on a series of articles exposing the brutality of Cuban prisons. The series was published only in part.

In April 2003, Maseda Gutiérrez was sentenced to 20 years in prison under Article 91 of the Cuban penal code, for acting "against the independence or the territorial integrity of the state," and Law 88 for the Protection of Cuba's National Independence and Economy. He had been arrested in March, following a state security raid on his Havana home, the journalist wrote in his prison memoir, Enterrados Vivos (Buried Alive). Maseda Gutiérrez' book was smuggled out of prison, a page at a time, and published in the United States in 2007.

In June 2003, Cuba's highest court, the People's Supreme Tribunal, dismissed his appeal. Pollán Toledo told CPJ that in 2004 she also sought amnesty for her husband, but the Cuban government did not respond.

Pablo Pacheco Ávila, Cooperativa Avileña de Periodistas Independientes
IMPRISONED: March 19, 2003

Pacheco Ávila holds a degree in physical training. According to the Miami-based Web site PayoLibre, he joined the Ciego de Ávila dissident movement at an early age. He was sentenced in 1991 to three years and six months in prison for "spreading enemy propaganda." Seven years later, he became a reporter for the local independent news agency Cooperativa Avileña de Periodistas Independientes.

On March 19, 2003, Pacheco Ávila's home was raided by state security agents, who confiscated a typewriter, journalism books, and stacks of blank paper, according to PayoLibre. The reporter was tried on April 4, his 33rd birthday, and sentenced to 20 years in prison under Law 88 for the Protection of Cuba's National Independence and Economy.

In 2008, Pacheco Ávila was being held at Morón Prison in his home province. His wife, Oleyvis García Echemendía, told CPJ that since 2003, the journalist had developed inflammation and joint problems in both knees, which required surgery. Pacheco Ávila has also been diagnosed with high blood pressure, severe headaches, acute gastritis, and kidney problems, his wife said.

Fabio Prieto Llorente, freelance
IMPRISONED: March 19, 2003

Prieto Llorente began working as a reporter for the independent news agency Havana Press in western Isla de la Juventud province in 1997, according to the Miami-based news Web site Bitácora Cubana. In 2001, he became a freelance journalist.

He was tried in April 2003 under Law 88 for the Protection of Cuba's National Independence and Economy and sentenced to 20 years in prison.

In 2008, Prieto Llorente was being held at El Guayabo Prison in his home province, his sister, Clara Lourdes Prieto Llorente, told CPJ. Prison authorities allowed one family visit every month. Prieto Llorente, 45, has been diagnosed with emphysema and high blood pressure, CPJ research shows. The reporter has suffered from depression as well, his sister said.

Omar Ruiz Hernández, Grupo de Trabajo Decoro
IMPRISONED: March 19, 2003

Ruiz Hernández began his career as an employee at a government-run company in the central province of Villa Clara, where he was constantly watched and eventually fired for his political views, according to the Miami-based Web site PayoLibre. In 1990, he joined a local dissident movement and became interested in human rights. Seven years later, he began working as an independent reporter, first for Agencia Centro Norte and later for Grupo de Trabajo Decoro, PayoLibre reported.

After his arrest in March 19, 2003, Ruiz Hernández was sentenced to 18 years in prison. He was tried under Article 91 of the penal code for acting "against the independence or the territorial integrity of the state."

In November 2005, Ruiz Hernández was sent to Nieves Morejón Prison in central Sancti Spíritus. He had been transferred twice before, his wife, Bárbara Maritza Rojo Arias, told CPJ. The 60-year-old reporter has been diagnosed with high blood pressure and other circulatory problems.

 

JAILED since the 2003 crackdown:

Guillermo Espinosa Rodríguez, Agencia de Prensa Libre Oriental
IMPRISONED: October 26, 2006

Espinosa Rodríguez worked as a reporter for the independent news agency Agencia de Prensa Libre Oriental in the eastern city of Santiago de Cuba at the time of his arrest in October 2006. Three months before his detention, Espinosa Rodríguez had been fired from his government job as a nurse because of his reporting.

Since July 2006, Espinosa Rodríguez had actively covered a local outbreak of dengue fever, which had been ignored by the official press. According to his cousin, Diosmel Rodríguez, the reporter had been detained for a few hours at a time at least three times during the months leading up to his arrest. Local authorities warned Espinosa Rodríguez that he would go to jail if he continued to write "lies," his cousin told CPJ.

On November 6, 2006, Espinosa Rodríguez was convicted during a 45-minute trial on the vaguely worded charge of "social dangerousness" contained in Article 72 of the penal code, and sentenced to two years of home confinement. Diosmel Rodríguez said his cousin, who is forbidden from leaving Santiago de Cuba and from practicing journalism, is allowed to leave his house only to go to work.

Oscar Sánchez Madan, freelance
IMPRISONED: April 13, 2007
Sánchez Madan earned a bachelor's degree in history and social sciences in Lvov, Ukraine, where he attended school on a Cuban government scholarship. He served five years in the army, according to the Miami-based Web site PayoLibre, before being discharged for expressing discontent with the Castro regime. He was later dismissed from a teaching position after refusing to renew his Communist Party affiliation, the Web site said.

Sánchez Madan began working as an independent journalist in 2005, reporting on a local corruption scandal and social problems in the western Matanzas province. Local authorities detained him twice in early 2007 and warned him to stop working as an independent reporter, Matanzas-based journalist Hugo Araña told CPJ.

In April of that year, Sánchez Madan was detained again and convicted of "social dangerousness," a vaguely worded charge contained in Article 72 of the penal code. Following a one-day trial, he was handed the maximum sentence of four years in prison.

In 2008, Sánchez Madan, 44, was being held at the maximum security Combinado del Sur Prison, outside the provincial capital of Matanzas, where he shared a 19-by-10-foot cell with more than a dozen prisoners, according to family friend and local human rights activist Juan Francisco Sigler Amaya. Sigler Amaya said prison authorities encouraged inmates to threaten and intimidate the reporter.

 

FREED on February 17, 2008:

José Gabriel Ramón Castillo, Instituto Cultura y Democracia Press
IMPRISONED: March 18, 2003

Ramón Castillo, 50, known as Pepín among his colleagues, worked for transportation companies and as a professor at vocational schools in his hometown of Santiago de Cuba throughout the 1980s. After a year of military service, he joined the official Unión de Jóvenes Comunistas (Union of Young Communists).

In 1992, he founded the independent Partido Patria Independencia y Libertad (Homeland, Independence, and Freedom Party) and the magazine Salir al Mundo. Four years later, he created the Instituto Independiente Cultura y Democracia (Independent Culture and Democracy Institute), which organized cultural events, according to the Miami-based Web site PayoLibre. As part of the Institute's mandate, Ramón Castillo also founded the news bulletin Fueros and reported for foreign-based media outlets such as the news Web site CubaNet, Radio Martí, and the newsmagazine Hispano Cubana.

On March 18, 2003, state security agents raided Ramón Castillo's home as well as his parents' house during an operation that lasted more than eight hours. Ramón Castillo was tried weeks later under Article 91 of the penal code for acting "against the independence or the territorial integrity of the state," and was given a prison sentence of 20 years. His house was confiscated and handed over to local authorities, PayoLibre reported.

Prison authorities restricted the amount of food, medicine, and personal hygiene items the journalist's family members were allowed to bring during their periodic visits, his wife, Blanca Rosa Echavarría, told CPJ. Ramón Castillo, who in 2008 was being held at Boniato Prison in Havana, has been diagnosed with cirrhosis, diabetes, hypertension, and stomach ulcers, his wife said.

Alejandro González Raga, freelance
IMPRISONED: March 18, 2003

An independent freelance reporter in the central Camagüey province, González Raga was tried and sentenced to 14 years in prison in April 2003 under Article 91 of the Cuban penal code, which punishes those who act "against the independence or the territorial integrity of the state."

In 2004, González Raga was transferred to Kilo 7 Prison in Central Camagüey, according to his wife, Berta María Bueno Fuentes. In February 2006, González Raga sent an open letter to overseas Web sites pleading for his freedom. In the letter, he said his health was deteriorating under poor prison conditions.

His wife, who said she was allowed to see the reporter for two hours every 45 days, said González Raga shared a barracks with more than 100 hardened prisoners. Bueno Fuentes told CPJ that her husband had been suffering from a series of mental health ailments, including depression. He has also been diagnosed with hypertension and cardiovascular problems.

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