November 30, 2009

Raúl Castro Ruz
c/o Cuban Interests Section
2639 16th St, NW
Washington, DC 20009
Fax: (202) 797-0606

General Abelardo Coloma Ibarra

Ministro del Interior y Prisiones
c/o Cuban Interests Section
2639 16th St, NW
Washington, DC 20009
Fax: (202) 797-0606

Your Excellencies,

On behalf of the 3,400 members of PEN American Center, an international organization of writers dedicated to protecting freedom of expression wherever it is threatened, we are writing to express our concern regarding the abduction and assault of Internet writers Yoani Sánchez, Orlando Luís Pardo Lazo, and Claudia Cadelo.

According to our information, on November 6, 2009, Yoani Sánchez, Orlando Luís Pardo Lazo, and Claudia Cadelo were walking to a peaceful march to protest violence against dissidents in Havana when unknown men, who the bloggers believe were plainclothes state security agents, forced them into an unmarked vehicle. One of the men reportedly warned bystanders not to get involved as the writers were “counterrevolutionaries.” The three writers were beaten and threatened before being released. Sánchez, who says she was told by one of her assailants that her “clowning around” was over, reportedly needed to walk with a crutch for several days after the assault. There has been no official comment on the attacks to date.

Sánchez has been writing her blog on everyday life in Cuba, Generación Y, since early 2007. The site reportedly receives one million hits per month and is translated into at least 15 languages. It has won Sánchez the Ortega y Gasset prize and the Mary Moors Cabot award from Columbia University for Internet journalism, though the Cuban authorities have denied her permission to leave the country in order to receive the honors.

PEN American Center is seriously concerned that the attack on Yoani Sánchez, Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo, and Claudia Cadelo may signal the beginning of a new wave of repression against this generation of bloggers, and believes they were targeted solely because of their peaceful exercise of their right to freedom of expression and assembly, in violation of Articles 19 and 21 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which Cuba signed in February 2008. We therefore call on you to ensure that those responsible for the attack are brought to justice, and to take urgent measures to ensure the safety of all writers and journalists in Cuba. We also reiterate our call for the immediate and unconditional release of the 26 writers, journalists and librarians currently imprisoned in Cuba in violation of their right to freedom of expression.

Thank you for your attention to this matter.


Hannah Pakula
Chair, Freedom to Write Committee

Larry Siems
Director, Freedom to Write and International Programs

H.E. Ambassador Mr. Pedro J. Nuñez Mosquera
Permanent Mission of the Republic of Cuba to the United Nations
315 Lexington Ave.
New York, NY 10016
Fax: (212) 779-1697

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