Open Letter to Brazil's Lula on Cuba

    Mr. Lula, your long friendship with President Castro is well known.
    However, no democrat
    would understand if these affinities
    were to take precedence over respect for human rights. We
    urge you
    to intercede on behalf of the 30 detained journalists in
    Cuba and to meet with the opposition and
    human rights activists.

    by:

    Robert Ménard

     

    Mr. Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva

    President of the Republic

    Brasília, D.F.

    Brazil

    Paris, 23 September 2003

    Dear Mr. President,

    On the eve of your visit to Cuba, the press freedom organization Reporters Without Borders would like to draw your
    attention to the lack of press freedom in that country. As you know, 75 dissidents were arrested during the crackdown which the
    Cuban government began on 18 March. They included 26 independent journalists. Accused of carrying out actions "against
    the independence or territorial unity of the state," they were given summary trials and sentenced to up to 27 years in prison.
    Four other journalists were already in prison prior to the crackdown. With a total of 30 detained, Cuba is the world’s biggest
    prison for journalists.

    Your long friendship with President Castro and your ideological affinities with the Cuban regime are well known.
    However, no democrat of the left or right would understand if these affinities were to take precedence over respect for human
    rights. For this reason, we urge you to intercede on behalf of the 30 detained journalists and to meet with members of their
    families and with representatives of the opposition and human rights activists. If you do not make any gesture on their behalf,
    you personal credibility and Brazil’s image will be seriously affected internationally.

    The 30 journalists currently detained are: Ricardo González Alfonso José Luis García Paneque Omar Rodríguez
    Saludes Jorge Olivera Castillo Pedro Argüelles Morán Miguel Galván Gutiérrez Edel José García Díaz Víctor Rolando Arroyo
    Carmona Manuel Vázquez Portal Adolfo Fernández Sainz Hector Maseda Gutiérrez Fabio Prieto Llorente Oscar Espinosa Chepe
    Pablo Pacheco Avila Mario Enrique Mayo Carmelo Diaz Fernández Mijail Barzaga Lugo Alejandro González Raga Juan
    Carlos Herrera Acosta Raúl Rivero Castañeda Omar Moisés Ruiz Hernández Normando Hernández González Julio César
    Gálvez Rodríguez Ivan Hernández Carrillo Alfredo Manuel Pulido López José Ubaldo Izquierdo Hernández Bernardo Arévalo
    Padrón (imprisoned since 18 November 1997) Carlos Alberto Domínguez (imprisoned since 23 February 2002) Lester Téllez
    Castro (imprisoned since 4 March 2002) Carlos Brizuela Yera (imprisoned since 4 March 2002)

    We must point out that the sanctions against these journalists, who challenge the state’s monopoly of news reporting,
    did not end when they were sentenced. They were subsequently transferred to prisons several hundred kilometers from their
    homes, their right to family visits was restricted and several are ill or have lost an alarming amount of weight because of poor
    conditions of detention. The government meanwhile continues to harass those journalists who have not been arrested.

    Confident that you will be receptive to this appeal, we would be grateful if you would let us know you intentions as
    regards our recommendations and if you would keep us informed of the outcome of your meetings.

    We look forward to your reply.

    Sincerely,

    Robert Ménard

    Secretary-General

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