Reporters Without Borders to Hollande: “Mr. President, France should…”
Posted on May 27, 2015
Reporters Without Borders to Hollande: “Mr. President, France should
seek the immediate and unconditional release of Yoennis de Jesus Guerra
Garcia, Juan Antonio Torres, and Angell Santiesteban-Prats.”
Note: This post was written by the editor of Angel’s blog.
Once again, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) demonstrates its commitment
to the serious situation in Cuba and writes an open letter to French
President Francois Hollande.
On the occasion of the upcoming visit of Hollande to Cuba, they asked
him to live up to the pledge he made in 2003 in a column in Le Nouvel
Observateur, “Tell the Truth”, and asked him:
“Mr. President, France should seek the immediate and unconditional
release of Yoennis de Jesús Guerra García, Juan Antonio Torres, and
Ángel Santiesteban-Prats. France can do no less than urge the Cuban
authorities to stop the repression and censorship of purveyors of
Thank you from here on behalf of Angel Santiesteban-Prats for the
relentless support provided by RSF for all those in Cuba who suffer the
consequences of exercising the right to freedom of expression and
information inside a dictatorship.
The Editor of Angel’s blog
Cuba: “The silence of the friends of Cuba would be a form of
complicity.” (Francois Hollande, 2003)
Published Thursday, May 7, 2015
On Monday, May 11, 2015, French President Francois Hollande will be the
first French head of state to visit Cuba since 1959, and the first
Western leader to do so since the announcement of the resumption of
diplomatic relations between the US and Cuba, announced last December
17. A historic visit, and a historic responsibility: to “tell the
truth,” as in the title of the column about Cuba written by François
Hollande (attached here) published in Le Nouvel Observateur in 2003.
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) sent an open letter to the President
requesting him to urge his counterpart Raul Castro to improve the
situation—which is dire—of the freedom of information on the island.
President of the Republic
55 Rue du Faubourg Saint?Honoré
May 7, 2015
Before you make your trip to Cuba, Reporters Without Borders (RSF), an
organization that defends freedom of information, would like to call
your attention to the situation—which remains very critical—of
professional and amateur journalists in Cuba. This country, which every
year ranks last in the Americas in the 2015 Worldwide Classification of
Freedom of the Press by Reporters Without Borders, ranked 169th out of
180 countries. This position reflects the apparent lack of pluralism and
the difficult and dangerous situation in which journalists and
independent bloggers operate in order to evade censorship and to publish
With a historic visit comes a historic responsibility: in the column you
wrote and which was published in Le Nouvel Observateur on February 27,
2003, entitled “Telling the Truth,” you stated bluntly: “Silence by the
friends of Cuba would be a form of complicity facing a system that we
condemn elsewhere,” and you urged “supporting the Cuban people to the
end and telling the truth about the inhumanity, both of the embargo and
of the Cuban regime. Both are unjustifiable.”
You had no doubt about the role of France: “We demand the release of all
political prisoners and the abolition of censorship.” In the name of
these principles, France cannot remain silent.
Mr. President, despite the desire for openness that the Cuban government
now displays in the diplomatic arena, it retains an almost complete
monopoly on information and does not tolerate the existence of any
independent media on the island. The traditional press and online media
remain censored; the internet remains under close surveillance.
An exception to this lead cloak: the website of the independent news
agency Hablemos Press. Since 2011 Hablemos Press was inaccessible on the
island, but last March 12th, as part of an anti-cybercensorship
operation, Reporters Without Borders unlocked its website. The Cuban
government did nothing, an exception that should be the rule. Mr.
President, France cannot forget that an opening can only be real and
beneficial to the population if the island is also open to plural and
Independent journalists and bloggers continue to exercise their
profession in the midst of a difficult and dangerous situation: their
computers are confiscated and their mobile phones are disconnected; they
are cited by the State Security Department and ordered to change their
editorial slant. Also, they continue to suffer intimidation, smear
campaigns, death threats, assaults, arrests and arbitrary detentions.
Even the World Day of Press Freedom on May 3rd served as a pretext for
repression. Three independent journalists covering the march of the
Ladies in White were arrested in Havana. They had distributed the
Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Mr. President, France cannot
continue to be silent about the arbitrary imprisonment of journalists.
Cuban authorities seem to increasingly prefer arbitrary detentions of
short duration to prevent purveyors of information from doing their jobs
and to keep them quiet. Yoeni de Jesús Guerra García (a blogger from
Yayabo Press sentenced to seven years in prison in 2014), Jose Antonio
Torres (a journalist from the official newspaper Granma, who was
sentenced in July 2012 to 14 years in prison) and the blogger Ángel
Santiesteban-Prats (author of the informative blog The Children Nobody
Wanted, sentenced to five years in prison in 2013), are all currently
serving long prison sentences.
Their crimes? Having spread information considered “anti-revolutionary”
or “slanderous.” Ángel Santiesteban-Prats was sentenced to five years in
prison for “domestic violence with injuries;” he was charged with a
common criminal offense to reduce the political impact of his
imprisonment. Since entering prison he has suffered ill-treatment and
torture. A lack of legal clarity clouds his situation. Mr. President,
France should seek the immediate and unconditional release of Yoennis de
Jesús Guerra García, Juan Antonio Torres, and Ángel Santiesteban-Prats.
France can do no less than urge the Cuban authorities to stop the
repression and censorship of purveyors of independent information.
France should also intervene with the Cuban authorities and ask them to
allow access to Cuba by international organizations defending human
rights and freedom of expression and information, such as Reporters
Without Borders. This, keeping in mind your desired objective: “to tell
Thanking you for your attention to this request, Mr. President, I send
my warmest greetings.
Source: Reporters Without Borders to Hollande: “Mr. President, France
should…” | Translating Cuba –