CPJ concerned about health of jailed journalist on hunger strike

Victor Rolando Arroyo

New York, September 23, 2005—The Committee to P rotect Journalists is concerned about the health of jailed independent journalist Víctor Rolando Arroyo who went on hunger strike two weeks ago and is now in the prison hospital, his sister Blanca Arroyo told CPJ. Arroyo refused food to protest mistreatment at the Guantánamo Provincial Prison, in eastern Cuba, where he is serving a 26-year sentence. He is one of 25 independent journalists behind bars in Cuba.

Arroyo’s wife, Elsa González, learned of the hunger strike from family members of other dissidents at Guantánamo, Blanca Arroyo told CPJ. González made the long journey to the prison from her home in Pinar del Río on Wednesday and is still waiting for her visit to be authorized. According to inmates who have seen Arroyo and passed information to his family, the journalist appears very weak and possibly dehydrated, his sister said. González has not seen Arroyo for four months.

“We are extremely concerned about the health of our colleague and the humiliating treatment to his family members,” said CPJ Executive Director Ann Cooper. “We renew our demands that the Cuban government release all 24 independent journalists unconditionally.”

Arroyo, 55, a journalist with the independent news agency Unión de Periodistas y Escritores de Cuba Independientes (UPECI), was sentenced in April 2003 for committing acts “aimed at subverting the internal order of the nation and destroying its political, economic, and social system.”

Journalists currently jailed in Cuba.