Independent Cuban journalist Roberto de Jesús Quiñones has at last been reunited with his family after a year of undue suffering as a prisoner of conscience in Cuba. While relieved at his release, the United States repeats its “strong condemnation of his unjust imprisonment for the simple act of doing his job,” said Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in a statement.
On August 7, 2019, the Cuban regime convicted Quiñones on dubious charges of resistance and disobedience and sentenced him to one year in a labor camp. His detention and trial were marked by flagrant disregard for legal norms. Cuban authorities did not inform Quiñones of the charges against him until minutes before the trial and did not permit him legal representation in the courtroom. The regime’s prosecutors prevented Quiñones from presenting evidence of his injuries at the hands of the police who arrested him. In March, he was denied parole.
“It is disgraceful that the Cuban regime incarcerated a journalist whose only ‘crime’ is working for a more transparent society,” said Secretary Pompeo. “It is also unsurprising. The regime uses any excuse to silence its critics and to violate human rights, including the rights to freedom of expression and to fair trial guarantees.”
Cuba remains the most restricted climate for the press in the Americas, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists. The same organization ranks Cuba among the top ten most censored countries. Print and broadcast media are wholly controlled by the Cuban Communist government and, by law, must be “in accordance with the goals of the socialist society.”
The United States calls on its democratic partners across the globe to make respect for human rights, including freedom of the press, a prerequisite for any dealings with Cuba.