Reporters Without Borders, the Paris-based independent press freedom monitor, has issued a written statement marking the anniversary of the July 2005 arrest in Cuba of Roberto de Jesus Guerra Perez and Oscar Mario Gonzalez Perez.
Mr. Guerra is a contributor to Radio Marti, and to the Payolibre and Nueva Prensa Cubana Internet websites. He was arrested while staging a fast in Havana along with a dozen other dissidents. They were protesting the Cuban government's harassment of independent journalists.
Mr. Gonzales is a founder of the Grupo de Trabajo Decoro, an independent Cuban news agency. According to news reports, he was arrested a year ago as part of a roundup of more than thirty dissidents peacefully protesting outside the French embassy in Havana against the normalization of relations between Cuba and the European Union.
Reporters Without Borders says, "In the absence of any charges against these journalists and in view of their states of health, we call for their immediate release and that of the twenty journalists who have been imprisoned since March 2003." U.S. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said the lack of press freedom in Cuba "lies with one person":
"Fidel Castro, and the policies that he has forced upon the Cuban people. So it's a sad situation where the Cuban people are suffering and freedom of expression is virtually nonexistent in Cuba."
The United States has called on the Cuban government to release the imprisoned journalists. A recent report released by the U.S. Commission for Assistance to a Free Cuba says that restoring freedom of the press in Cuba "will be essential to securing free and fair multiparty elections."
U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice says, "all free societies carry the responsibility to press restrictive governments to allow an open press."
The preceding was an editorial reflecting the views of the United States Government.