Reporters Without Borders today hailed the release of Lamasiel Gutiérrez Romero, a correspondent for the Miami-based Nueva Prensa Cubana website, on completion of a seven-month sentence on 22 March, but deplored the fact that her release was only conditional.
“We welcome her release and we hope the 23 other journalists held in Cuban prisons, some without trial, will also soon be freed,” the press freedom organisation said. “But we know her release was not an act of clemency and we note that, bizarrely, she was freed conditionally despite completing her sentence. There is no justification for this restriction and we urge the Cuban authorities to lift it.”
Punched and thrown to the ground when arrested by National Revolutionary Police in July on the Isle of Youth, where she lives, Gutiérrez was sentenced in August to seven months of house arrest for “resisting the authorities and civil disobedience.” She was placed in Mantonegro women’s prison in Havana province on 11 October for continuing her journalistic activities in defiance of the terms of her sentence.
Gutiérrez says she does not intend to give up journalism and wants to continue working for press freedom and free speech, and for Cuba to become a democracy.
Albert Santiago Du Bouchet Fernández of the Habana Press independent news agency, who was arrested around the same time as Gutiérrez and for the same reasons, is due to be freed in August. Twenty of the journalists rounded up during the March 2003 crackdown are also still in prison, serving sentences of between 14 and 27 years.
Two other journalists, Oscar Mario González Pérez of the Grupo de Trabajo Decoro agency and Roberto de Jesús Guerra Pérez, who writes for Nueva Prensa Cubana and Payolibre, another website, were arrested last July and have been held since then without trial in State Security detention centres.