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Cuba9 December 2005

Journalist on hunger strike for the fourth time

Imprisoned journalist Roberto de Jésus Guerra Pérez went back on hunger strike on 3 December, according to a report on the Payolibre website that has been confirmed by his family. He ended his previous hunger strike on 7 November, after four days, but warned that he would stop eating again if he was sent back to prison, which is what happened. Guerra was transferred back to the Technical Investigation Department detention centre in Havana from which he had been taken to the military hospital in the Havana district of Marianao on 28 October. A contributor to Miami-based Payolibre and Radio Martí, Guerra has been held without charge for the past four months and is now on his fourth hunger strike.

15.11.05 - Imprisoned journalist suspends hunger strike

Roberto de Jesús Guerra Pérez ended the hunger strike he began on 3 November after four days, Reporters Without Borders has learned from his wife, Iliana Tamayo Reyes, who said his condition has improved. But she said he intends to resume his hunger strike when he is transferred back to prison from the hospital where he is now. She added that her husband has lost a lot of weight in the four months since his arrest and that his state of health is still worrying.

10.11.05 - Concern about state of health of 25th journalist to be imprisoned

Reporters Without Borders voiced concern today about the condition of Roberto de Jesús Guerra Pérez, a contributor to the US-based websites Payolibre and Nueva Prensa Cubana and the US government-run Radio Martí, who has been imprisoned since 13 July and who began a second hunger strike on 3 November.

Guerra was transferred to Carlos J. Finlay hospital in the Marianao district of Havana on 28 October and, according to his wife, his state of health is worrying.

“We are all the more concerned about this second hunger strike as he had only called off the preceding one a few days before and he was still very weak,” Reporters Without Borders said. “There are no serious grounds for holding him as all he did was describe what life is really like for Cubans. We demand his immediate release.”

Guerra ended his first hunger strike after 17 days, four of which he spent without water as well as food. The day he started the second one, 3 November, he was taken to hospital from the Technical Investigation Department, where he had been held since his arrest on 13 July.

He went back on hunger strike following a row with a guard at the detention centre. His wife, Iliana Tamayo Reyes, who was present during the argument, told Reporters Without Borders that he stopped eating again because of this incident, saying he would rather die than submit to such injustice.

Tamayo added that her husband had lost a lot of weight and could “barely stand up.” He also has frequent asthma attacks and kidney infections.

Guerra is protesting against his arbitrary detention and the fact that he has still not been charged three months after his arrest.

Guerra was arrested for disturbing the peace on 13 July while staging a fast along with a dozen other dissidents in protest against the harassment he has undergone as an independent journalist and representative of a movement called the “Corriente Martiana” (José Martí Current), which defines itself as “patriotic, humanitarian and cultural.”

His wife and Moisés Leonardo Rodríguez, both fellow members of the “Corriente Martiana,” were arrested at the same time but were released 72 hours later.

When Rodríguez asked a state security officer why Guerra was still being held, the officer said Guerra had a “record” and mentioned “three false reports” without going into detail.

Guerra’s articles are mainly about social issues affecting the Cuban population such as poverty and the lack of medical care. Guerra had been harassed by the authorities before his arrest. At the beginning of 2005, he had to leave his sister’s home where he had been living after state security officials threatened to evict her if she continued to let him stay there.

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