May 31, 2010 - Updated on January 20, 2016

Independent journalist arrested again, 10 days after being released

Calixto Ramón Martínez Arias, an independent journalist who works for Hablemos Press, was arrested again by State Security officials while covering a dissident demonstration in Havana on 25 May. Another independent journalist, Carlos Serpa Maceira, and six other demonstrators were also arrested but, unlike Martínez, they were quickly released. Martínez was due to be transferred to Camagüey the day after his arrest but his present place of detention is not known. He had been released on 14 May after being held for three weeks in Valle Grande prison on a charge of “aggravated insult” at the time of his arrest by police on 23 April. Reporters Without Borders is also concerned about the health of three journalists who have been held since the “Black Spring” crackdown of March 2003, when they were convicted on trumped-up charges of spying. They are Normando Hernández González (sentenced to 25 years in prison), José Luis García Paneque (24 years) and Juan Carlos Herrera Acosta (20 years). What became of the humanitarian gesture that the Cuban government promised as a result of the Catholic Church’s mediation? --------------------------------- 18.05.10 - Dissident journalist freed pending trial on charges of insulting and attacking police officers After three weeks in detention, independent journalist Calixto Ramón Martínez Arias was released conditionally from Havana’s Valle Grande prison on 14 May pending trial on a charge of aggravated assault against police officers at the time of arrest. Martínez, who works for Hablemos Press, was arrested on 23 April while covering an activity commemorating imprisoned dissident Orlando Zapata Tamayo’s death. Initially charged with “insulting behaviour,” he subsequently found himself being charged with physically attacking the arresting officers although witnesses deny that such an attack took place. Martínez’s release comes just days after that of another opposition journalist, Dania Virgen Garcia These releases should not however divert attention from the fact that Cuba’s independent media are still ruthlessly suppressed and 24 journalists, including our correspondent, Ricardo González Alfonso, are still in prison. Reporters Without Borders took part in a demonstration in support of the Ladies in White today in Paris which had the backing of the Paris city hall. ----- 07.05.2010 - Journalist held without trial, more serious charge considered In the latest ongoing wave of repression, it seems the Cuban authorities are bringing more serious charges against Calixto Ramón Martínez Arias, the Hablemos Press reporter, who was arrested with force on 23 April while covering an activity commemorating imprisoned dissident Orlando Zapata Tamayo’s death. Initially charged with “insulting behaviour,” Martínez is still being held and is now apparently accused of “aggravated violence” against a police officer at the time of his arrest although the authorities have offered no details about what allegedly took place. The vagueness indicates that the authorities themselves are not sure what they are claiming. During his transfer to Valle Grande prison in La Lisa, on the outskirts of Havana, on 30 April, Martínez insisted that the charges were baseless. “This is an invention designed to stop my work and neither the police nor the prosecutor’s office can agree on the lies they are going to use to convict me,” he said. Reporters Without Borders calls for the immediate release of Martínez, who has been arrested many times in the past and deported three times to the eastern city of Camagüey, each time in connection with his journalistic work. The government’s treatment of independent journalists has been worsening of late in a new crackdown on anyone trying to express dissident views under a regime marked by a complete absence of civil liberties. -------------------------- 29.04.10 - Authorities imprison one journalist, arrest another and summon a third The crackdown on independent journalists is intensifying, with three cases of journalists being jailed, arrested or summoned in the past few days. The journalist who has been jailed is Dania Virgen García of Primavera Digital and CubaNet, who was given a 20-month sentence on 23 April. Her case brings the number of journalists imprisoned in Cuba to 25. Arrested at her home in the Havana suburb of San Miguel del Padrón on 22 April, García was tried and convicted in less than 48 hours and was taken to the women’s prison known as the “Manto Negro” (Black Veil) because of its bad reputation. The regime’s haste to “pass justice” appears to have been due to the municipal elections held on 25 April The charges on which García, 41, was convicted have yet to be confirmed, but she supported and participated in the marches staged by the Ladies in White, a group formed by the mothers, wives and sisters of political prisoners whose activities have been suppressed by the authorities in recent days. Independent journalist Yosvani Anzardo Hernández was arrested at his home in San Germán, in the eastern province of Holguín, on the morning of 24 April. His family does not know why. The editor of the newspaper Candonga, Anzardo was detained for two weeks in September 2009, when police confiscated the electronic equipment he needed to produce the newspaper. Magaly Norvis Otero Suárez, an independent journalist who reports for the Hablemos Press news centre and Miami-based Radio Martí, has been given a summons to report to the National Revolutionary Police in Havana for “a conversation” on 29 April. A staunch supporter of the Ladies in White, Norvis also keeps a blog in which she writes about arbitrary arrests and human rights violations. Finally, police used force to arrest Calixto Ramón Martínez Arias, another Hablemos Press reporter, on 23 April as he was covering an event in the Havana suburb of Marianao to commemorate imprisoned dissident Orlando Zapata Tamayo’s death. Martínez has been charged with “insulting behaviour.” “The international community cannot continue to remain silent in the face of the suffering of Cuba’s dissidents and the lack of freedoms imposed by a regime whose hints of a possible opening stopped short at the threshold of human rights,” Reporters Without Borders said. Independent journalist Guillermo Fariñas Hernández is meanwhile continuing a hunger strike to press for the release of the prisoners of conscience who are in poorest health. Reporters Without Borders has urged him to call off the protest but Fariñas says he is ready to die. With a total of 25 journalists currently detained, including Reporters Without Borders correspondent Ricardo González Alfonso, Cuba ranks behind only Iran and China as one of the world’s biggest prisons for the media. Photo :