Pedro Argüelles Morán

Beats Covered:
Local or Foreign:

The Cuban government freed 17 journalists arrested in the Black Spring crackdown of 2003, but four independent reporters and editors remained in prison when CPJ conducted its annual census on December 1.

Argüelles Morán was sentenced in April 2003 to 20 years in prison under Law 88 for the Protection of Cuba’s National Independence and Economy, which punishes anyone who commits acts “aiming at subverting the internal order of the nation and destroying its political, economic, and social system.”

Argüelles Morán, director of the independent news agency Cooperativa Avileña de Periodistas Independientes in the central province of Ciego de Ávila, was being held at the Canaleta Prison in his home province, his wife, Yolanda Vera Nerey, told CPJ. She said her husband, 62, had bone and respiratory ailments and cataracts in both eyes.

In July 2010, the Catholic Church brokered an agreement with Cuban authorities to release 52 political prisoners arrested in 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.)

Three journalists swept up in the 2003 crackdown and a fourth arrested in 2009 remained in jail when CPJ conducted its December 1 census. 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.

Albert Santiago Du Bouchet Hernández, the detainee arrested in 2009, had not been offered release under any condition as of December 1, according to the Havana-based Cuban Commission on Human Rights and National Reconciliation.