Cuban government bars journalist from collecting award in New York

Raúl Rivero, founder and director of the independent news agency CubaPress, informed CPJ that Cuban authorities denied him a permit to travel to Columbia University to receive a special citation from the Graduate School of Journalism for “independent reporting in the face of harassment, arrests, and threats from the government.”

He was scheduled to receive the citation at a September 29 ceremony honoring winners of the Maria Moors Cabot Prize for excellence in reporting about Latin America. Rivero applied for an exit and reentry permit from the Interior Ministry after he received the invitation from Columbia in June. In early August the University filed a formal invitation with the Cuba Interests Section in Washington, DC. On September 23, the fourth anniversary of CubaPress’ founding, Major Lázaro of the Interior Ministry (who, like many Cuban security officials, only gives out his rank and first name) informed Rivero that his application had been denied.

One of Cuba’s most prominent independent journalists, Rivero has faced harassment since he left the state-controlled press in 1988. His movements have been restricted; he has been threatened, interrogated, and detained. Officials have repeatedly told Rivero that he can leave Cuba as long as he doesn’t try to come back. Because he has always been determined to pursue his profession in Cuba, his visa applications have consistently been denied. “But I’m not going to fall in the trap of pessimism,” Rivero says, who intends to continue claiming his right to travel.

Please join CPJ in denouncing this violation of Article 13, Paragraph 2 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states, “Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country.”

Send protest letters to:

His Excellency Fidel Castro Ruz
President of Cuba
c/o Permanent Mission of Cuba to the United Nations
315 Lexington Avenue
New York, NY 10016
Fax: (212) 779-1697