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Imprisoned journalist Normando Hernández González suffering from serious health problems

(IAPA/IFEX) - The following is a 29 June 2007 IAPA press release:

IAPA condemns inadequate health care for independent journalists jailed in Cuba

Miami (June 29, 2007) - The Inter American Press Association (IAPA) today condemned Cuban authorities for holding a number of independent journalists behind bars despite their precarious state of health and asked the Cuban government to provide them medical attention in accordance with international human rights standards.

A recent report on the serious health problems of independent journalist Normando Hernández González, who has been imprisoned since 2003, echoes the cases of seven other jailed journalists: José Gabriel Ramón Castillo, José Luis García Paneque, Omar Ruiz Hernández, Pablo Pacheco Ávila, Pedro Argüelles Morán, Víctor Rolando Arroyo, and Héctor Maseda Gutiérrez.

Gonzalo Marroquín, chairman of the IAPA Committee on Freedom of the Press and Information, reiterated the IAPA's condemnation of the Cuban government for keeping these journalists behind bars. "We find this disgraceful," Marroquín said. "Not only are these individuals being denied their right to free speech, but their very lives are being endangered by denying them adequate health care."

Marroquín, editor of the Guatemalan daily Prensa Libre, reiterated the IAPA's request that the Cuban government release the 28 independent journalists still held in prisons throughout the country.

Blanca González and Yaraí Reyes - who are Hernández's mother and wife, respectively - say they fear for the journalist's life if he does not receive medical attention. Hernández, serving a 25-year prison sentence, is at the Kilo 7 correctional facility.

A member of the Independent Journalists Association of Camagüey, Hernández has tuberculosis and a chronic parasitic infection, and weighs only 45 kilograms (about 100 pounds), according to a Bloomberg news agency report that appeared in El Nuevo Herald of Miami, Florida.

Cuban authorities refused to honor the visa granted by the Costa Rican government last April for Hernández González to travel to that country. Yaraí Reyes, who visits her husband every two months, petitioned the court on July 7, 2006, to grant the journalist a special furlough for health reasons.

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