Publicado: Tue, 8 Mar, 2016

Open letter to Barack H. Obama

This entry is also avaliable in: Spanish

President of the United States of America
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500

March 7, 2016
Havana, Cuba
On the occasion of your official visit to Cuba on March 21 and 22, 2016, the Association for Freedom of the Press, a Cuban organization dedicated to promoting press freedom in Cuba, would like to draw your attention to the alarming conditions of the press in this country, particularly in regard to media control and attacks against journalists.

Ever since the ruling party seized power over 57 years ago, freedom of expression and of the press has been eroded.

On May 14, 1960, Prensa Libre, the last autonomous newspaper in our country, was shut down.

From that moment on all media was at the service of the state.

Article 53 of Cuba’s Political Constitution specifies that, “(F)reedom of speech and of the press must be in keeping with the objectives of socialist society (…) press, radio, television, movies and other organs of the mass media are State or social property and can never be private property.”

In this context journalists working to inform from the margins of the Cuban state’s control are pursued, vilified, imprisoned, and publicly insulted by the government.

Law 88 for the Protection of National Independence and the Economy of Cuba with the pretext of opposing the Helms-Burton Act, the embargo and the “economic war against our people,” in Article 7, Section 1, states that whoever “collaborates by any means with foreign radio and television stations, newspapers, magazines or other media outlets commits a crime punishable by a prison sentence of two to five years, or a fine of three thousand quotas, or both.”

In the 14 months since the reestablishment of diplomatic relationships between the US government and the government of General Raúl Castro, the Association for Freedom of the Press has documented 54 attacks against journalists. Physical and psychological violence and arbitrary arrests are a constant for journalists carrying out their work.

The arbitrary detentions do not follow due process and are executed by the so-called “political police,” who act under pseudonyms and about whom there is no existing information at police stations.

President Barack Obama, the Association for Freedom of the Press requests that direct influence be exercised during the negotiations between the United States government and Cuban authorities in regard to Cuba’s ratification of international agreements on civil and political rights that guarantee the freedom of expression and of the press and halts the harassment of the independent press.

At the moment journalists do not enjoy even the minimum guarantees to allow us to carry out our work as outlined in Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights:

“1. Everyone shall have the right to hold opinions without interference.
2. Everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of his choice.”

President, we share George Washington’s belief that: “Liberty, when it begins to take root, is a plant of rapid growth.” Cubans deserve this plant to grow.

Thank you for your consideration Mr President. We send you our warmest regards.

In the name of Association for Freedom of the Press

José Antonio Fornaris
President of the APLP

APLP is a non-profit non-governmental organization that works to promote the freedom of the press and journalists’ needs.
Contact telephone numbers: +53 5 817 6776 and +53 5 844 7644

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