Jailed Cuban dissident wins prize

The editor of an independent news agency, the Colegio de Periodistas Independientes de Camagüey, Normando Hernández González, is serving a 25 year sentence for “crimes against state security.” Hopefully, this international attention will help secure better conditions or a medical release for him.

HAVANA — (AP) — Imprisoned independent journalist Normando Hernandez Gonzalez has won the 2007 PEN/Barbara Goldsmith Freedom to Write Award, the writers group announced Tuesday in New York.

The annual prize honors writers who have been persecuted or jailed for engaging in or defending freedom of expression. It is underwritten by writer and historian Barbara Goldsmith, a PEN trustee.

The award will be presented at PEN’s annual New York gala on April 30.

Hernandez Gonzalez, 38, was among 75 independent journalists, rights activists and other critics of the Cuban government arrested in a March 2003 crackdown on the island’s opposition.

Sixteen people in the group have since been released on medical parole, leaving 59 — including Hernandez Gonzalez — behind bars.

Communist authorities tried the group on charges of working with the U.S. government to undermine Fidel Castro’s government — accusations the dissidents and American officials denied.

All were convicted and sentenced to long prison terms. Hernandez Gonzalez, who directed a group of independent journalists in the eastern province of Camaguey, got 25 years.

Read more about Mr. González and his case at Reporters Without Borders, and the Miami Herald article is here.

3 thoughts on “Jailed Cuban dissident wins prize”

  1. Not the first Cuban to win this award either.


    In 2003:

    Bernardo Arévalo Padrón, Cuba
    An independent journalist imprisoned since 1997 in connection with his independent news reporting, he was transferred in July from a labor camp to maximum security Ariza Prison. Arévalo Padrón remains in jail despite being eligible for parole since October 2000. Authorities maintain that he has not been sufficiently “politically re-educated.” He has vowed to continue his journalistic work even behind bars by reporting news of prison conditions.

    In 1995:

    Indamiro Restano Díaz, Cuba
    Restano is a published poet and former vice president of the Association of Independent Journalists of Cuba. At the time the award was bestowed, he was serving a ten-year sentence for “rebellion” and 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. Due for release in December 2001, he was being held in Combinado del Este prison in Havana. A few weeks after the announcement of the award, 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.

  2. This is spendid news, which hopefully will help build the critical mass of attention for Cuban political prisoners that up to now has been missing. At the very least, I hope it will bring the release of this very brave man.

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