A reporter for the independent news agency Patria in the western city of Colón, Hernández Carrillo was sentenced in April 2003 to 25 years in prison under Law 88 for the Protection of Cuba’s National Independence and Economy. Hernández Carrillo, 39, was subjected to harassment and assault while in prison, according to his mother, Asunción Carrillo, who said prison authorities had encouraged inmates to attack him.
Although the government released a number of political prisoners in 2010, Hernández Carrillo was among four Cuban journalists still in prison when CPJ conducted its annual census on December 1. Three had been swept up in the 2003 crackdown and a fourth was arrested in 2009.
In July 2010, the Catholic Church brokered an agreement with Cuban authorities to release 52 political prisoners, including 20 journalists, who were arrested during the 2003 crackdown. Spanish government officials also participated in the talks. The Cuban government did not explicitly demand that freed prisoners leave the country as a condition of release, but it’s clear that is what authorities wanted: All 17 of the reporters released as of December 1 were immediately exiled to Spain. (One later relocated to Chile.)
The remaining detainees from the 2003 crackdown expressed their desire to stay in Cuba upon release, the reporters’ families told CPJ. A story published in September by the Madrid-based daily El País quoted Spanish officials as saying that imprisoned reporters who wanted to stay in Cuba upon release would be freed through a parole program. The Cuban government, however, did not confirm those plans.
After July talks between the government and the Catholic Church, Hernández Carrillo was transferred from a prison in Santa Clara province, about 90 miles (150 kilometers) from his family’s home in Matanzas province, to La Henequenera Prison in his home province, his mother told CPJ. He suffered from hypertension and gastritis.