Ramón Castillo worked as the director of the independent news agency Instituto Cultura y Democracia Press in the eastern province of Santiago de Cuba. He was tried in April 2003 under Article 91 of the penal code for acting against “the independence or the territorial integrity of the state” and was given a prison sentence of 20 years.
Ramón Castillo was being held at the Boniato Prison in Havana, where he shared a barracks with at least 100 inmates, according to his wife, Blanca Rosa Echavarría. In 2006, prison authorities harassed the journalist’s family and progressively reduced the amount of food, medicine, and personal hygiene items the family was allowed to bring him, Echavarría told CPJ.
The journalist has been diagnosed with cirrhosis, diabetes, hypertension, and stomach ulcers, Echavarría said. He recently developed circulation problems in his legs and numerous growths on the face and body. Echavarría said her husband received treatment for diabetes but was seldom given medication for his other ailments.