Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Cuban journalist arrested for disrespectful reporting on hunger strike: Day 24

Breaking story on Cholera outbreak gets you a Pulitzer in a normal country. In Cuba it gets you 2 to 5 years in prison.

“Freedom of expression - in particular, freedom of the press - guarantees popular participation in the decisions and actions of government, and popular participation is the essence of our democracy.” - Corazon Aquino

Unjustly imprisoned: Calixto Ramon Martinez on day 24 of hunger strike
Reports continue to emerge from Cuba that cholera is still impacting large numbers of Cubans on the island. There is little coverage of it now in the mainstream press. Nevertheless, some independent voices abroad are reporting that the specter of cholera is impacting Cubans on the island.

However the priority of the dictatorship is not to get rid of cholera but to resist acknowledging that there is a problem and silencing those who speak out.  Cuba is a dangerous place to be a whistle blower. News of a cholera outbreak emerged in July of 2012 and its spread was such that the regime had to eventually admit that there was a problem.

Following Hurricane Sandy and the havoc it wreaked on October 25, 2012 reports emerged that cholera was severely impacting Cubans on the island. The dictatorship has yet to confirm that there is a problem.

However, Calixto Ramon Martinez who reported on the cholera outbreak and was detained on September 16, 2012 after exposing Cuban government culpability in the deterioration of medicines sent to the island by the World Health Organization (WHO) has now been on hunger strike for 24 days protesting his unjust imprisonment.

Early on in his imprisonment Calixto managed to smuggle out an account of the conditions there that was published on November 15, 2012 and an extract has been translated: 
The living conditions in this prison are absolutely appalling, and should be declared uninhabitable. I denounce to international organizations that monitor the respect for Human Rights to visit the prison, that they focus on visiting this prison, due to the poor conditions, and that the Cuban government fill itself with dignity and declare this prison uninhabitable. I should report on the state of overcrowding that is being lived in this prison, because in a space of 13 to 14 meters long and 6 meters wide live together some 36 inmates.
He stands accused of disrespecting Fidel and Raúl Castro and faces the charge of "aggravated contempt for authority."

Calixto is demanding that his human rights be respected and that he be released immediately. Activists are mounting a campaign for his release using different media. 

Human Rights Campaign for Freedom of Calixto

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