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Cuba24 March 2005

Police informer tries to implicate dissident journalist

Reporters Without Borders voiced outrage today at an attempt to implicate journalist María Elena Alpízar Ariosa of the independent news agency Grupo de Trabajo Decoro in an imaginary crime on 17 March in Placetas in the central province of Santa Clara.

"This scheme bears all the hallmarks of the Cuban political police", the press freedom organization said. "When they are not in prison or under house arrest, Cuban journalists are often the victims of this kind of harassment. It is regrettable that yet again the instigators of this kind of ploy enjoy complete impunity while a mere subordinate gets all the blame."

Cubanet said that when Alpízar returned home at around 11 a.m. on 17 March and opened her door, she found a blood-spattered machete lying on her floor. Suspecting a trap by the political police, she did not enter. Instead she alerted her neighbours and phoned the local police, who did come to her house.

A group of dissidents reported the case to the regional office of the National Revolutionary Police (PNR) and obtained an interview with a Captain Julio of the State Security Department. Julio said he knew nothing. Bertha Antúnez, a member of the dissident group, phoned Santa Clara mayor Rubén Álvarez, who said he would order an investigation.

The dissidents then went to Alpízar’s home where a known PNR informer by the name of José Ramón Valdés Ortuela turned up and declared himself to be guilty of theft and of illegally killing a farm animal. Valdés was arrested.

Three of the 21 journalists who have been in prison since the March 2003 crackdown are members of the Grupo de Trabajo Decoro news agency. The three are Héctor Maseda Gutiérrez (serving a 20-year prison sentence), Omar Moisés Ruiz Hernández (18 years) and José Ubaldo Izquierdo Hernández (16 years).

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