Cuban journalists continue to report from jail

Two articles on the labor exploitation of prisoners in Havana‘s Güanajay Prison appeared over the weekend on the Miami-based news Web sites CubaNet and PayoLibre. The articles detailed the use of prisoners as free labor in a local shoe factory, and described the terrible conditions under which the 28 men work. Though not written by them, the pieces were reported by independent Cuban journalists José Ubaldo Izquierdo Hernández and Miguel Galván Gutiérrez, both held in Güanajay.

It is not clear how Ubaldo Izquierdo and Galván Gutiérrez were able to get the information out of jail. But like them, many of the other 20 independent journalists imprisoned in Cuba today still work as reporters. Often they use their weekly telephone privileges to communicate with other reporters or human right advocates, describing prison conditions and detailing the health conditions of other political prisoners. Other times they smuggle out notes during prison visits.

Some imprisoned journalists, like Héctor Maseda Gutiérrez and Normando Hernández González, have been able to write a memoir and a diary from their jail cells. Both smuggled their work out of prison page by page. Maseda Gutiérrez’s book was later published in the United States. Hernández González’s prison diary is available online.

Ubaldo Izquierdo, Galván Gutiérrez, Maseda Gutiérrez, and Hernández González were all detained during a massive crackdown against the opposition and independent press in March 2003. They are serving prison sentences that range from 16 to 26 years in prison.

Read the details of their cases here.