International PEN is delighted at the news of the release of three more Cuban journalists imprisoned since 2003. Fabio Prieto Llorente and Juan Carlos Herrera Acosta touched down in Madrid on August 19, 2010, while Juan Adolfo Fernández Saínz arrived the next day, all three with their families. With their release, a total of 15 Cuban writers have now been freed and exiled since July 12 under a deal brokered by the Catholic Church and the Spanish government. PEN welcomes this news, but remains concerned that the prisoners are apparently obliged to leave Cuba as a precondition of their release. It continues to call for the immediate and unconditional release of the 10 other Cuban writers, journalists and librarians still in prison for their writings.

Background Information

Juan Adolfo FERNÁNDEZ SAÍNZ: journalist (correspondent for independent news agency Patria). Date of birth: November 30, 1948. Sentence: 15 years.

Juan Carlos HERRERA ACOSTA: journalist (Eastern Free Press Agency - Agencia de Prensa Libre Oriental or APLO). Sentence: 20 years. Charge: Law 88.

Fabio PRIETO LLORENTE: freelance journalist and member of the Asamblea para la Sociedad Civil (Civil Society Assembly). Date of birth: March 11, 1963. Sentence: 20 years.

Under a deal brokered by the Catholic Church and the Spanish foreign ministry and announced in July, the Cuban government has reportedly agreed to release all 52 dissidents imprisoned since the March 2003 crackdown. However, the government is reportedly now ready to go further and may release all of the country’s political prisoners, estimated to number around 150 in total.

One of the conditions of the prisoners’ release is apparently that they agree to be exiled to Spain, although they will be free to move elsewhere thereafter. Both the USA and Chile have reportedly offered to take in the dissidents. The remaining detainees are due to be released over the next three to four months. However, some are reportedly refusing to leave Cuba; it is still not clear what will happen in these cases.

The Cuban government has not explained why it has agreed to the releases. However, the regime has come under increasing pressure from the international community following the  February 23, 2010 death of imprisoned dissident Orlando Zapata Tamayo after an 85-day hunger strike for better prison conditions, harassment of the dissident group "Ladies in White" during protests in March and April, and reports in early July that the journalist Guillermo Fariñas, who went on hunger strike following Zapata’s death, was himself in danger of dying. Fariñas reportedly called off his hunger strike after the releases were announced. However, Zapata Tamayo’s mother has reportedly suffered repeated harassment during the regular marches she carries out in memory of her late son.

Write A Letter

  • Welcoming the release of Fabio Prieto Llorente, Juan Carlos Herrera Acosta, and Juan Adolfo Fernández Saínz, as well as the Cuban government’s reported intention to release the seven other writers who have been imprisoned since March 2003;
  • However, expressing concern that the writers have apparently been obliged to leave Cuba as a precondition of their release;
  • Calling for the immediate and unconditional release of the 10 writers, journalists and librarians still held in violation of their right to freedom of expression, seven of whom have been imprisoned since 2003.

Send Your Letter To

Head of State and Government
Raúl Castro Ruz
Presidente
La Habana, Cuba
Fax: +53 7 8333085 (via Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
+1 2127791697 (via Cuban Mission to UN)
Email: [email protected] (c/o Cuban Mission to UN)
Salutation: Su Excelencia/Your Excellency

Interior Minister
General Abelardo Coloma Ibarra
Ministro del Interior y Prisiones
Ministerio del Interior, Plaza de la Revolución, La Habana, Cuba
Fax: +53 7 8333085 (via Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
+1 2127791697 (via Cuban Mission to UN)
Salutation: Señor Ministro / Dear Minister

Please send also appeals to diplomatic representatives of Cuba in your country if possible.

Please send appeals immediately. Check with PEN if sending appeals after October 18, 2010: ftw[at] pen.org