New York, December 17, 1999 — CPJ has learned that Cuban state security officers arrested four journalists yesterday afternoon and placed six more under house arrest this morning in an apparent attempt to prevent them from covering an anti-government demonstration scheduled to take place today in Havana.
Sources in Cuba report that Juan González Febles, Adela Soto Alvarez, María del Carmen Carro, and Santiago Martínez Trujillo were taken into custody yesterday at approximately 4:00 p.m. Six other journalists — Meri Miranda, Osvaldo de Céspedes, María de los Angeles Gómez, Amarylis Cortina, Ricardo Gónzalez and Alida Viso — were placed under house arrest this morning. State security agents were posted outside their homes.
Cuban authorities apparently wished to block press coverage of a peaceful protest march scheduled to coincide with the saint’s day of San Lázaro, a Catholic saint who is reputed to heal the sick and answer the prayers of the desperate. Every year, hundreds of people gather at “El Rincón de San Lázaro” in Havana, where a large statue of the saint is located. Demonstrators were expected to end their march near the site. In a move typical of the Cuban government, journalists were rounded up ahead of time to prevent them from covering the event. Because of the lack of coverage, it is not known if the march actually took place.
CPJ expects Cuban authorities to lift the house arrest at 6:00 PM today. It is not known when the four imprisoned journalists will be released. CPJ remains outraged at the continued harassment and persecution of Cuba’s independent journalists.
For more information, contact Lynn Ventura, Americas program researcher at CPJ (tel 212-465-9344 ext. 118, fax 212-290-7686, or email [email protected]