Concern in Miami over threats to journalist
Miami (September 23, 2009).—The Inter American Press Association (IAPA) today condemned the arrest of two bloggers in Cuba, the ongoing restrictions on freedom of the press there and renewed its demand for the release of independent journalists in prison.
The editor of the online newspaper Condonga, Yosvani Anzardo Hernández, has been held in jail since September 10 after the police raided his home, beat him up and confiscated his computer, a cell phone and books his wife, Lourdes Yen Rodríguez, reported to the PayoLibre Web site on September 19. On the same day blogger Luis Felipe González Rojas was arrested and freed after four hours. Both incidents occurred in Holguín province.
Hernández, 35, was charged at Holguín State Security headquarters, in southeast Cuba, with running an online newspaper from his home, in violation of Law 88, known as the Gag Law.
“We condemn the restrictions that the government of Cuba insists on imposing on independent expressions of press freedom,” IAPA President Enrique Santos Calderón, said. “It is inconceivable and a lack of respect to the Cuban people that the authorities continue to decide what information the citizens have a right to receive and search for,” added Santos, editor of the Bogotá. Colombia, newspaper El Tiempo. He repeated the IAPA’s insistent demand for the release of 27 imprisoned independent journalists.
Since 2006 the IAPA has protested against the restrictions on Internet use, blocks on online content and aggravation of bloggers. In its latest semi-annual report in March this year the organization declared that “almost all of the independent blogs are inaccessible in Cuba itself, due to the government block on the Internet signal.”
In another development regarding the Cuba question in Miami, the IAPA expressed concern at death threats made to Canal 22 Mega TV television channel journalist María Elvira Salazar and her family. The channel received three anonymous phone calls threatening her and her two daughters, supposedly in retaliation for an interview she held with an artist who took part in the Paz sin Fronteras (Peace Without Borders) concert in Havana on Sunday.
The chairman of the IAPA’s Committee on Freedom of the Press and Information, Robert Rivard, editor of the San Antonio Express-News, Texas, asked local officials “to investigate promptly the source of the threats and take due legal action to provide protection and ensure the physical safety of the journalist and her family.”
In addition, the hemisphere free press organization said it was concerned by a report published in the Miami Spanish-language newspaper El Nuevo Herald stating that Javier Ceriani, an Argentine program host living here, is suspected to have been taken into custody by the authorities in Cuba and prevented from covering the music concert. Journalist Fernando del Rincón, emcee, of Miami’s Mega TV program “Paparazzi” claimed he received similar treatment while in Cuba.