Friday, August 18, 2006

Blogs Insist: Release Cuban Journalists Now

It’s August 18, 2006. The Inter American Press Association (IAPA) has sent out a clarion call to its members to publish editorials today calling on Cuban thug Fidel Castro to release all journalists held imprisoned for practicing their vocation and Val Prieto (guest blogging for Michelle Malkin) asks the blogosphere to follow suit.

In March 2003 Castro ratcheted up his reign of terror by rounding up pesky troublemakers like journalists and librarians, sentencing them in kangaroo courts for alleged violations of Law 88, an instrument of legal terror which IAPA describes as “a 1999 act providing long sentences for a variety of journalistic ‘crimes.’”

It’s not just journalists that Castro has declared war on. Independent librarians have also been targeted by Law 88. In January 2004, Nat Hentoff renounced his ALA Immroth Award for intellectual freedom, when the American Library Association voted down an amendment which would have protested the wholesale arrests of Cuban librarians. The ALA should attempt to rebuild its reputation by joining the world community in protesting Castro’s treatment of librarians and journalists.

Artists have fared little better under Castro’s dictatorship. He has also imprisoned poets like Renaldo Areinas, Heberto Padilla, and Armando Valladares. Jazz musicians like Arturo Sandoval and Paquito D’Rivera have been harassed by Castro’s organized street gangs and in some cases also imprisoned.

Clearly, free expression has been incompatible with the Castro regime. It is time for change to come. The world must demand the release of all Cuban prisoners of conscience. IAPA should be commended for focuses attention on the plight of independent journalists in Cuba—journalists like:

Ricardo González Alfonso; Víctor Rolando Arroyo (also an independent librarian); Normando Hernández González, Julio César Gálvez; Adolfo Fernández Sainz; Omar Rodríguez Saludes; Héctor Maseda Gutiérrez; Mijaíl Barzaga Lugo; Pedro Arguelles Morán; Pablo Pacheco Avila; Alejandro González Raga; Alfredo Pulido López; Fabio Prieto Llorente; Iván Hernández Carrillo; José Luis García Paneque; Juan Carlos Herrera; Miguel Galván Gutiérrez; José Ubaldo Izquierdo; Omar Ruiz Hernández; José Gabriel Ramón Castillo; Léster Luis González Pentó Alfredo Felipe Fuentes; José Manuel Caraballo Bravo; and Oscar Mario González

Their names may not be familiar to us, but each is an individual, with family, friends, and the courage to question a corrupt regime. Journalists, librarians, and bloggers should have a consistent message—set them free.