Calixto Ramón Martínez Arias, a reporter for the independent news agency Hablemos Press, was arrested on 10 May and is being held in a police detention centre in Havana awaiting deportation in three days’ time to his home town of Camagüey for the 10th time in two years.
His sister-in-law, Niurka Caridad Ortega, visited the journalist yesterday and told Hablemos Press she had “seen him and taken him some clean laundry, although he said he had stopped eating since Thursday and was spitting blood. It appears that the stomach ulcer from which he suffers has worsened.”
Reporters Without Borders said: “Calixto Ramón Martínez lives and works in Havana, where he also has relatives. On this basis, his expulsion to Camagüey contravenes the relaxation, passed at the end of last year, of the law on internal migration, which restricted the movement of people to the capital.
“The free movement of individuals is a basic right which the Cuban government must acknowledge, particularly if it decides to ratify the two United Nations pacts on civil and political rights that it signed in 2008.
“Why do the authorities insist in uprooting this man from his everyday surroundings? Is it because he recently reported, via Hablemos Press, that Havana was experiencing problems with its water supply? The subject deserves more than senseless reprisals against the journalist who raised it.
“This deportation – his 10th -- would be laughable were it not for the fact that it exposes the refusal of the government, which claims to be aware of the need to change the way it governs, to establish an open and sustained dialogue with civil society.”
The press freedom organization also called for the journalist to be given all appropriate care.
Hablemos Press has recorded just over 1,900 detentions or hostile acts by the authorities towards dissidents since the start of the year, including 340 during April. The agency has itself been affected by the crackdown. Besides Martinez, two more of its journalists, Gerardo Younel Avila and Magali Norvis Otero, were each detained briefly, on 6 and 9 May respectively.