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Cuba30 December 2003

Ricardo González ends his hunger strike

(JPEG) Alida Viso Bello, the wife of Ricardo González Alfonso (photo), told Reporters Without Borders on 29 December that her husband had ended his hunger strike on 24 December after receiving "a satisfactory reply to his demand".

19.12.2003 - Concern about Reporters Without Borders correspondent on hunger strike in prison

Reporters Without Borders today voiced concern about its correspondent in Cuba, Ricardo González Alfonso, who began a hunger strike in prison on 8 December to press his demand not to be held in a cell with non-political detainees.

"We hold the Cuban government responsible for our correspondent’s health," the organisation said, noting that several journalists have recently been transferred to cells with non-political detainees where they risk being the victims of violence from their cell mates, sometimes instigated by the authorities.

With 29 journalists detained, Cuba is the world’s biggest prison for the press, ahead of Burma with 16 and Eritrea with 14. González is serving a 20-year sentence handed down on 7 April.

González’s wife Alida Viso Bello told Reporters Without Borders she found him a lot thinner when she visited him on 17 December in "Kilo 8" prison in the central province de Camagüey, located more than 500 km from his home in Havana.

She said he did not want to continue sharing a cell with non-political detainees or, at least, to be put with detainees who were less violent. Since 6 November, he has been held in various cells in the prison’s block 7 with non-political detainees, including one convicted of murder. Cell mates have twice stolen personal belongings from him.

A prison official who attended the meeting between González and his wife said he was moved to a poorly-lit cell on 14 December as a punishment for "lack of discipline." The prison official added that it was not up to him whether González was transferred to another cell.

González was the president of the Manuel Márquez Sterling Association of independent journalists and the editor of De Cuba, the first independent magazine published in Cuba since Fidel Castro came to power. He was arrested on 18 March 2003 and convicted of "actions against the independence and unity of the state."

He was detained in a crackdown in which a total of 26 independent journalists and some 50 other dissidents were rounded up. The journalists were sentenced to prison terms ranging from 14 to 27 years.

More information on Ricardo González

More information on the magazine De Cuba

More information on the jailed cuban journalists

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