The France-based media rights group Reporters Without Borders on Thursday named jailed Cuban journalist Ricardo Gonzalez Alfonso its 2008 Reporter of the Year. The award was bestowed on the dissident Cuban “for helping an independent press to survive in Cuba,” the group said on its web site.
Gonzalez was arrested in March 2003 along with 26 other dissident journalists and sentenced to 20 years in prison for “being in the pay of the United States” and “undermining Cuba’s independence and territorial integrity.”
Since being shut away in Havana’s Combinado del Este prison in late 2004, he has suffered from a series of physical ailments, including hepatitis and hemorrhaging.
Born in 1950, Gonzalez began working for the independent news agency Cuba Press in 1995 and became Reporters Without Borders correspondent in 1998.
He and his friend Raul Rivero set up the Manuel Marquez Sterling Association in May 2001 to train Cuba’s independent journalists, who are often self-taught.