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Brazil - Cuba23 September 2003

Open letter from Reporters Without Borders to Lula

25.09.2003

President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva has no plans to meet with Cuban dissidents during his 26-27 September visit to Havana, according to the programme for the visit released by the Brazilian foreign ministry yesterday. Several dissidents contacted the Brazilian embassy in Havana during the past few days to request such a meeting.


In an open letter, Reporters Without Borders appeals to President "Lula" to meet with the families of the imprisoned journalists

Mr. Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva
President of the Republic
Brasilia D.F.
Brazil

Paris, 23 September 2003

Dear Mr. President,

On the eve of your visit to Cuba, the press freedom organisation Reporters Without Borders would like to draw your attention to the lack of press freedom in that country. As you know, 75 dissidents were arrested during the crackdown which the Cuban government began on 18 March. They included 26 independent journalists. Accused of carrying out actions "against the independence or territorial unity of the state," they were given summary trials and sentenced to up to 27 years in prison. Four other journalists were already in prison prior to the crackdown. With a total of 30 detained, Cuba is the world’s biggest prison for journalists.

Your long friendship with President Castro and your ideological affinities with the Cuban regime are well known. However, no democrat of the left or right would understand if these affinities were to take precedence over respect for human rights. For this reason, we urge you to intercede on behalf of the 30 detained journalists and to meet with members of their families and with representatives of the opposition and human rights activists. If you do not make any gesture on their behalf, you personal credibility and Brazil’s image will be seriously affected internationally.

The 30 journalists currently detained are: Ricardo González Alfonso José Luis García Paneque Omar Rodríguez Saludes Jorge Olivera Castillo Pedro Argüelles Morán Miguel Galván Gutiérrez Edel José García Díaz Víctor Rolando Arroyo Carmona Manuel Vázquez Portal Adolfo Fernández Sainz Hector Maseda Gutiérrez Fabio Prieto Llorente Oscar Espinosa Chepe Pablo Pacheco Avila Mario Enrique Mayo Carmelo Diaz Fernández Mijail Barzaga Lugo Alejandro González Raga Juan Carlos Herrera Acosta Raúl Rivero Castañeda Omar Moisés Ruiz Hernández Normando Hernández González Julio César Gálvez Rodríguez Ivan Hernández Carrillo Alfredo Manuel Pulido López José Ubaldo Izquierdo Hernández Bernardo Arévalo Padrón (imprisoned since 18 November 1997) Carlos Alberto Domínguez (imprisoned since 23 February 2002) Lester Téllez Castro (imprisoned since 4 March 2002) Carlos Brizuela Yera (imprisoned since 4 March 2002)

We must point out that the sanctions against these journalists, who challenge the state’s monopoly of news reporting, did not end when they were sentenced. They were subsequently transferred to prisons several hundred kilometres from their homes, their right to family visits was restricted and several are ill or have lost an alarming amount of weight because of poor conditions of detention. The government meanwhile continues to harass those journalists who have not been arrested.

Confident that you will be receptive to this appeal, we would be grateful if you would let us know you intentions as regards our recommendations and if you would keep us informed of the outcome of your meetings.

We look forward to your reply.

Sincerely,

Robert Ménard
Secretary-General



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in the annual report
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archives

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