Indamiro Restano Diaz is a published poet and former vice president of the Association of Independent Journalists of Cuba. In 1995 he received the PEN/Barbara Goldsmith Freedom to Write Award. At the time, he was serving a ten-year sentence for “rebellion” and for preparing publications “aimed at inciting civil disobedience.” The charges stemmed from his activities as founder and president of the Movement for Harmony, an opposition group that called for the release of all political prisoners and an end to Cuba’s one-party system. Although he was due for release in December 2001, a few weeks after the announcement of the award in 1995, Restano was released. He came to the PEN office the following September and accepted the award, stressing that PEN’s efforts had been instrumental in securing his release.

Case History

Indamiro Restano Diaz was first detained in 1985 after giving an interview to a US journalist, for which he also lost his job as a radio journalist. He was detained again in June 1991, and almost immediately released with a warning to cease alleged activities relating to what the government called illegal association, enemy propaganda, and incitement to rebellion. He was then arrested in December 1991 as he was leaving his parents’ house in Havana. Several men handcuffed him and took him to the Departamento de Seguridad del Estado (DSE), the Department of State Security. Several other members of the Movement of Harmony were arrested along with him. Restano Diaz’s trial was held in May 1992, when he was charged with rebellion and sentenced to 10 years in prison. Despite a lack of evidence that Restano Diaz and his organization were planning violent action, the court ruled that he had broken the law by forming a political organization without prior government authorization, which was illegal under Cuba’s one-party rule. Restano, who had been held in Guanajay prison, was released in 1995 after receiving the award from PEN America and additional international pressure, particularly from the French human rights group France-Libertés.