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Concern About Health of Jailed Cuban Journalist

Concern Expressed About Health of Jailed Cuban Journalist

Reporter imprisoned by Castro regime on July 13 initiated second hunger strike

By Eric Green
Washington File Staff Writer

Washington -- International concern is being raised about the health of Cuban journalist Roberto de Jesús Guerra Pérez, who has been imprisoned in a Cuban jail since July 13.

He began a second hunger strike protesting his detention on November 3.

In a November 10 statement, Paris-based press freedom advocacy group Reporters Without Borders said Guerra is a contributor to the U.S.-government-run Radio Marti and to the U.S.-based Web sites Payolibre and Nueva Prensa Cubana.

In demanding Guerra's "immediate release" from jail, Reporters Without Borders said: "We are all the more concerned about this second hunger strike as he had only called off the preceding one a few days before and he was still very weak. There are no serious grounds for holding him [in jail] as all he did was describe what life is really like for Cubans."

Guerra was arrested in July while staging a fast, along with a dozen other dissidents, in protest against the harassment he has undergone as an independent journalist and representative of a movement called the "Corriente Martiana" (José Martí Current), which defines itself as "patriotic, humanitarian and cultural," according to Reporters Without Borders.

Guerra's articles address social issues affecting the Cuban population, such as poverty and the lack of medical care. According to Reporters Without Borders, Guerra had been harassed before his arrest by agents of Cuban dictator Fidel Castro. At the beginning of 2005, he had to leave his sister's home where he had been living after state security officials threatened to evict her if she continued to house Guerra.

Reporters Without Borders also reported that another journalist, Lamasiel Gutiérrez Romero, has been transferred to a Cuban prison because she continued her journalistic activities in defiance of a court order issued by the Castro regime.

Gutiérrez, who was sentenced August 9 to seven months of house arrest for "resisting the authorities" and for "civil disobedience," joined 24 other journalists currently imprisoned in Cuba.

The repression against Cuban independent journalists also is reflected in the U.S. State Department's Country Reports on Human Rights Practices -- 2004. That document, released February 28, says the Castro regime strictly censors news and information and limits the distribution of foreign publications. (The Cuba section of the report is available on the State Department Web site.)

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