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Cuba11 August 2005

Another independent journalist arrested

Reporters Without Borders condemned the arrest of physician and independent journalist Florencio Cruz Cruz today in Aguado, in the central province of Cienfuegos. Cruz is the deputy editor of the Línea Sur Press independent agency. He also works for Nueva Prensa Cubana.

Cruz was arrested by Lt. Carlos Castillo Medina, a police officer identified as Junier, and two other policemen as he was going to the home of Bernardo Arévalo Padrón, the editor of Línea Sur Press.

Arévalo said the pretext for the arrest was a small sum of money in Cruz’s possession which he received from the US-based organisation Agenda Cuba as a form of assistance after the most recent hurricane to hit the island. Cruz’s wife, Yamile Sousa Elizondo, told Reporters Without Borders she has not yet seen him since his arrest.

11.08.05 - Soldiers threaten journalist in continuing wave of repression

Reporters Without Borders today condemned threats made against independent journalist Lucas Garve, the president of the Freedom of Expression Foundation, who was woken in his Havana home by soldiers from a rapid intervention unit at around 10:30 p.m. on 8 August and told he would "pay dearly" if he went out the next day.

"Not satisfied with having 22 independent journalists in prison, the Cuban authorities also constantly harass those who are still free by means of threats, intimidation and summonses to report to a police station," the organisation said.

Garve decided to stay at home on 9 August and was later told soldiers were posted in the house opposite all day.

He was previously the target of threats after President Fidel Castro named him as a "counter-revolutionary leader" along with some 30 other independent journalists while speaking on a national TV station.

The Cubanet website has reported other, similar incidents that day in Havana. Ángel Pablo Polanco of the Servicio Noticuba independent news agency, for example, was also threatened near his home. Polanco was arbitrarily detained for three days in August 2002.

Reporters Without Borders has registered 10 case of threats against independent journalists since June. In many cases, the threats were made by state security agents when the journalist complied with an order to report to a police station.

Independent journalists have been particularly hit by the government crackdown of the past few weeks. Oscar Mario González was arrested on 22 July in Havana and is now awaiting trial under the draconian Law 88 . Lamasiel Gutiérrez Romero was sentenced on 9 August to seven months of "conditional freedom" on a trumped-up charge of "resisting the authorities and civil disobedience."

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