Cuban treatment of journalists denounced
Several Democratic members of Congress complained of Cuban government
expulsions and imprisonment of journalists.
BY PABLO BACHELET
Thirteen Democratic Congress members, including several who favor easing
sanctions against Havana, have decried Cuba's recent expulsion of three
''As members of the new majority in the United States Congress, we write
today to express our concern with the recent expulsion of three veteran
foreign journalists from Cuba as well as the continued restriction and
abuse of native journalists in Cuba,'' the legislators wrote in a March
Addressed to the Cuban diplomatic mission in Washington, the letter is
signed by a mix of Democrats who oppose or favor the Bush
administration's tough stance against Havana.
In February, the Cuban government refused to renew the press
accreditation of Gary Marx of the Chicago Tribune, César González-Calero
of Mexico's El Universal newspaper, and Stephen Gibbs of the BBC,
presumably for reporting critical of Havana.
The move is ''great concern and warrants further explanation,'' the
letter states, adding that it ``once again brings to light the
restrictive and often abusive environment all reporters -- including
Cuban nationals -- experience when attempting to freely report from Cuba.''
The independent group Reporters Without Borders says 24 independent
Cuban journalists are in jail.
The letter is signed by four Democrats from Florida: Reps. Ron Klein,
Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Robert Wexler and Allen Boyd.
It also is signed by Democratic Reps. Melissa Bean and Janice Schakowsky
of Illinois; Carolyn B. Maloney, New York; James P. McGovern,
Massachusetts; Sam Farr, California; Bill Pascrell and Frank Pallone,
New Jersey; Patrick Kennedy, Rhode Island; and John Barrow, Georgia.
McGovern, Farr and Schakowsky have argued for an easing of U.S.
sanctions against Cuba.
The Cuban government complains that the State Department refuses to
grant visas to Cuban journalists. The administration argues that all
media is in the hands of the Cuban government, though visas are granted
for exceptional occasions, such as covering sporting events.