On February 16, 2008, Gonzalez Raga was released and forced into exile in Spain, alongside Cuban independent journalist José Gabriel Ramón Castillo. "When we were arrested, none of us was planning any assault on a military barrack or wearing a balaclava," said Gonzalez Raga, one of the 75 Cuban dissidents arrested by Cuban authorities on March 18, 2003. "Most of the things we were caught with were old writing machines, a few radios, drafts of press articles, and copies of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights." Of the 29 journalists jailed in 2003, 20 remain in Cuban prisons.
Unemployed, struggling to start a career in journalism in the Spanish media, worried for his jobless wife, Berta, and the future of his children, Gonzalez Raga devoted his presentation at the Press Association to some of his colleagues who remain jailed on the island: Alfredo Pulido, Normando Hernández, and Ricardo González Alfonso. "Brothers" in his basic, fundamental mission: to live free, to write in freedom. The rest--a home, electricity, a job for his wife, a computer--can wait, he said. But his needs certainly remind us of our duties. No journalist should be forced to live, or work, in darkness.
UPDATE: After meeting with Alejandro Gonzalez Raga yesterday, we spoke to the local electric company, which promised to expedite the process of returning electrical service to the journalist's home. We also spoke to the local mayor and secured free computer classes for Gonzalez Raga.