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Released journalists interviewed seven years after "Black Spring"

(RSF/IFEX) - 2 September 2010 - The words "Definitive Departure" were stamped in the passports of all the Cuban journalists who were released in July and August 2010 in exchange for a forced exile. A total of 27 of them were arrested because of their opinions during the "Black Spring" crackdown of March 2003, and were given sentences ranging from 14 to 27 years in prison.

Nineteen of them were still in prison at the time of the dynastic transfer of power between the Castro brothers in February 2008. Now - together with four other journalists who were arrested subsequently - six of the original 27 are still waiting to be released from prison and, almost certainly, to be sent into exile as well.

Have they recovered their "freedom"? Not according to the journalists who were interviewed for this video in Madrid on 19 and 20 August, just as three more were arriving from Havana. "I will be free when my country is free," said Ricardo González Alfonso, Reporters Without Borders' correspondent and founder of the magazine "De Cuba". Watch the video:

The forced exile of these independent journalists is clearly not a sign of the "opening" on the part of the Cuban government that some have been hoping for. We nonetheless welcome the fact that these men, whose only crime was to try to do reporting that was not controlled by the authorities, can finally start a new life.

We also hail everything the Spanish government and the Cuban Catholic Church have done to help them. And we finally reiterate our view that the absurd US embargo that has been in place since 1962 must be lifted in order to force the Castro regime to keep its international undertakings.

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