Costa Rica Officially Requests Asylum for Cuban Journalist

September 21, 2007

Press freedom watchdog group Reporters Without Borders is backing Costa Rica’s request to allow imprisoned journalist Normando Hernández to leave Cuba for humanitarian reasons.

Hernández’s health has been deteriorating since his arrest during the Cuban government’s 2003 crackdown on journalists known as “Black Spring.”

Costa Rica’s consul in Havana, José María Penabad, formally submitted the request to Cuban Foreign Minister Felipe Pérez Sept. 16, according to a Reporters Without Borders statement.

Calling Hernández’s condition “alarming,” the press freedom organization said Hernández should be transported to Costa Rica so he can receive proper treatment.

“Humanitarian concerns are clearly paramount as regards all prisoners of conscience, especially the 20 journalists held since March 2003 in very harsh conditions,” the group said in a statement, asking other governments to support the initiative.

Immigration in Costa Rica notified the consul Sept. 14 that it had issued a humanitarian visa for Hernández at the request of National Union Party legislator José Manuel Echandi, who has been pushing for the visa since June.

Echandi told The Tico Times that in addition to a hunger strike taken to protest his jailing, Hernández has been suffering from tuberculosis.

“He doesn’t have access to medicine to control his illness,” Echandi said, adding that he is also filing an appeal with the United Nation’s Human Rights Commission for Hernández’s liberation.

The director of an independent Cuban news agency, Hernández was arrested in March 2003 with 26 other journalists during the last major crackdown on Cuban dissidents.

Accused of spying and threatening state security, he was given a 25-year prison sentence, the organization said.

Hernández has been held since September 2006 in high security prison. He went on a hunger strike in March of this year and the effects coupled with tuberculosis have caused the deterioration of his health. He was recently transferred to a Havana hospital, Echandi said.

With 24 journalists currently jailed, Cuba is the world’s second biggest prison for the press after China, according to Reporters Without Borders. Three of those now in prison were arrested after Raúl Castro took over as acting President in July of last year. The 20 others still held since March 2003 are serving prison sentences ranging from 14 to 27 years.

 

Facebook Comments

You may be interested

Diego Fournier: Art just doesn’t have to be pretty, it has to say something
Artists
561 views
Artists
561 views

Diego Fournier: Art just doesn’t have to be pretty, it has to say something

Iva Alvarado - November 18, 2018

I was drinking coffee in the Steinvorth building in downtown San José a few hours before I met the 29-year-old…

Q&A: Donald Trump and “Building the Wall” with Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Robert Schenkkan
Arts and Culture
971 views
Arts and Culture
971 views

Q&A: Donald Trump and “Building the Wall” with Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Robert Schenkkan

Yamlek Mojica Loáisiga - November 17, 2018

Robert Schenkkan, 65, is a brilliant man. He’s been acting and writing for more than 40 years and penned the…

Saturday morning quake shakes Costa Rica
Earthquake
1962 views
Earthquake
1962 views

Saturday morning quake shakes Costa Rica

Alexander Villegas - November 17, 2018

The National Seismological Network reported a preliminary magnitude 5.1 quake, 12 kilometers west of Guapiles, at 8:12 a.m. this Saturday. The…