Friday, March 02, 2007

Cuba Update: 3-2-07

A couple recent items of interest regarding Fidel Castro's Caribbean paradise:

-Last week, the Cuban government banned three foreign journalists from the country. The Associated Press provides the details:

The Chicago Tribune said correspondent Gary Marx, based in the country since 2002, was told Wednesday that his stories were too negative. His press credentials were not renewed during an annual process, and he and his family were given 90 days to leave Cuba, the newspaper said.

The Mexican newspaper El Universal said Cesar Gonzalez Calero, its Havana reporter since 2003, was told this week his credentials would not be renewed. Authorities told him his reporting was "not the most convenient for the Cuban government," the reporter said, adding he would be allowed to remain in Cuba as the husband of a Spanish journalist.

The British Broadcasting Corp. was "talking to the authorities in Havana about the status of its Cuba correspondent after his accreditation was withdrawn," spokeswoman Karen Rosine said Friday in a statement from London. Without naming correspondent Stephen Gibbs, Rosine said he "remains in Cuba, pending the outcome of these discussions."

As you might expect, Reporters Sans Frontieres and the Committee to Protect Journalists are less than satisfied with this decision.

-As unhappy as those three foreign journalists might be, they're still far better off than Cuba's aspiring independent journalists, such as Roberto de Jesús Guerra Pérez:

Reporters Without Borders voiced surprise today at the 22-month prison sentence which Roberto de Jesús Guerra Pérez, a correspondent of the Miami-based Payolibre and Nueva Prensa Cubana websites and the US government-funded Radio Martí, received yesterday from a Havana court on a charge of “disturbing the peace,” and said it hoped the 19 months he has already spent in detention will be deducted from the time he has to serve.

“Such a severe sentence for ‘disturbing the peace’ is in itself surprising,” Reporters Without Borders said. “Guerra was held for 19 months without being charged before being tried. We obviously hope this long period already spent behind bars will be discounted from his sentence and that he will be released soon.”

The organisation added: “Prior to his arrest, Guerra was repeatedly harassed because of his journalistic activities, and the peaceful demonstration in which he took part on 13 July 2005 was just used as a pretext for imprisoning him.”

According to the Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation (CCDHRN), Guerra, 28, was one of five dissidents who appeared before a municipal court in Havana yesterday. They received sentences ranging from 22 months to two years in prison for “disturbing the peace” by staging a peaceful demonstration on 13 July 2005 to commemorate the shipwreck 11 years earlier of five Cuban “balseros” who had been trying to reach Florida by sea.


Blogger Walter Lippmann said...

None of the three journalists have been "banned" from Cuba. Their credentials to work on the island have not been renewed.

Every country on earth has immigration policies, and decides for itself, for its own reasons, who shall be admitted and who shall be permitted to work in the country.

Not one single Cuban journalist is accredited to work in the United States of America. I believe there may be one or two at the United Nations, but in the rest of the United States, not one.

For the past six years I've operated a Yahoo news group focusing on Cuba and have been following these developments closely.

No one has a right to enter any country they wish for any reason

4:49 AM  
Blogger Walter Lippmann said...

Sorry, I did not finish my comment.

Until relations between our two countries are normalized, things like this will happen from time to time. Not one word Gary Marx has ever written has ever been stopped or censored in any way, nor has he ever complained that it has. Some with Stephen Gibb, both of whom have complained about Cuba in their reports since coming to the island years ago.

If you would like something to consider complaining about, please try this:

US Government Refuses Visa to Cuban Concert Pianist

Havana, March 1 (ACN) Cuban pianist Frank Fernandez protested the US government's denial of a visa to travel to Puerto Rico to participate in the presentation of an album with local singer Danny Rivera.

Fernandez, tagged as one of the best pianists around the world, criticized the US policy before the media and said this situation must change someday.

"I think artists play an essential role in the search of truth, freedom and world peace," he stated.

The Cuban pianist said the album was recorded a year ago and includes Cuban and Puerto Rican traditional songs, reports the Prensa Latina news agency.

Fernandez, now in Moscow, is scheduled for a special presentation on March 6 at the Hall of Chaikovski Conservatory in that city, where he will play Rashmaninov Concert No. 2 with Moscow's Symphonic Orchestra under the direction of Guennadi Dimitriak.

As part of Washington's aggressive policy against the island, a group of outstanding Cuban artists --such as Ibrahim Ferrer, Omara Portuondo and Chucho Valdes-- had previously been denied visas to enter US territory over the last years.

Thank you.

Sincerely yours,

Walter Lippmann

4:54 AM  

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