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HavanaJournal.com: Cuba Politics

Twin drives put focus on dissidents

Posted March 17, 2005 by Cubana in Cuba Politics.
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Members of Congress and a group of famous Latin American writers are trying to raise awareness of the struggles for Cuban dissidents.

By AMBAR HERNANDEZ AND PABLO BACHELET

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WASHINGTON - Highlighting the plight of Cuban dissidents, members of Congress launched an ‘‘Adopt a Cuban Political Prisoner’’ campaign Wednesday while famous Latin American writers urged Cuban President Fidel Castro to free 28 jailed journalists.

Both moves came as the U.S. and Cuban governments prepare for their annual clash over Havana’s human rights record at the spring meeting in Geneva of the U.N. Human Rights Commission.

They also marked the two-year anniversary of a massive crackdown on Cuban dissidents that sent 75 of them to prison for up to 28 years after one- or two-day trials.

A letter from Latin American authors and journalists called Cuba ‘‘one of the world’s leading jailers of journalists’’ and urged Castro to release the 23 journalists still in prison—six jailed in 2003 were later freed for medical reasons—and ``respect international law by allowing journalists to work freely, without fear of reprisal.’‘

Among the 108 signers from 18 Latin American countries were Mexican author Carlos Fuentes, Venezuelan newspaper editor and former leftist guerrilla Teodoro Petkoff and Argentine writer Tomás Eloy Martínez.

The letter, organized by the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists, said a reading of trial documents showed the journalists had worked ``within the parameters of the legitimate exercise of free expression established under international human rights standards.’‘

At the same time, Cuban-American and other members of Congress, together with the Washington-based Center for a Free Cuba, launched a campaign to focus public opinion on jailed Castro opponents by ‘‘adopting,’’ one of them.

The group will urge other lawmakers to wear buttons with photos of imprisoned dissidents and publicize their plight in their home states—and even in Cuba—if they or their staffers travel there.

‘‘I’m hoping we can have many members of Congress come on the bandwagon, adopt a political prisoner,’’ said Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a Miami Republican, at an event launching the campaign.

Member Comments

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On March 17, 2005, bernie wrote:

I say let the reporters serve the time.
  From the lies reporters tell in usa newspapers and on
  usa TV they all should be locked-up.  Until they somehow
  learn to tell the truth.  But if they tell the truth
  they know they will be fired from their job, and tell
  what good is a reporter without a job, most are not to
  bright.

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On March 17, 2005, jesusp wrote:

I categorically disagree bernie, freedom of speech is one of the main things Fidel and his men fought for in the 1950’. The same freedom should be granted to these men, not imprisonment.