Wednesday, March 3, 2010


I am free as a journalist and blogger to write my views without fear that they’ll be censored, blocked or indeed that I will be imprisoned, tortured or even killed for stating my beliefs.

My views, of course, may not be your views but it is the essence of the ethic of freedom of speech, so greatly valued by Britons, that I should have the liberty to state my beliefs even if others disagree with them.

I write my words in Spain where within my lifetime such freedoms have not always existed and many paid in blood or exile for giving voice to beliefs and ideas that were at odds with those of the Franco regime.

There are also today in the world, those on the left of politics, who believe that Cuba can do no wrong. I have written here in the past in support of the campaigns to have the US embargoes of the Caribbean Island lifted. However I am not looking so far left that I cannot see the injustice staring me in the face.

I add my voice to those of the Federación de Asociaciones de Periodistas de España (FAPE) that has called on the Cuban authorities to respect freedom of expression and human rights after the death of Orlando Zapata.

Gerardo Ducos, Amnesty International’s Caribbean researcher stated: “The tragic death of Orlando Zapata Tamayo is a terrible illustration of the despair facing prisoners of conscience who see no hope of being freed from their unfair and prolonged incarceration. A full investigation must be carried out to establish whether ill-treatment may have played a part in his death.”

Currently three political prisoners and the dissident journalist Guillermo Coco Fariñas (photo above) are on hunger strike following the news of Zapata’s death on February 24.

This is not the first experience Fariñas has had of a hunger strike. He started another in 2006 to demand free access for Cubans to the internet. He has called for a cession to “the governmental violence against our people, against the bloggers and the independent journalists.”

FAPE, an organization that represents over 14,500 journalists in 48 federated associations and 13 associations who are linked offers its solidarity to Fariñas and the rest of his Cuban colleagues who are restricted in their freedom of expression.

In its annual report Reporteros Sin Fronteras classified Cuba only after China and Eritrea for the numbers of journalists it imprisoned. Since the Primavera Negra of March 2003 19 of the 27 journalists detained there are still behind bars.

This is of concern not only to me as a journalist and blogger but also to you as a reader – who may or may not take the opportunity to express your opinions here – because my freedom to write and yours to read and comment are what are at risk in Cuba and other totalitarian regimes.

Please take action by signing the Amnesty International España petition by clicking here.

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