Cuban dissident blogger completes first year of detention

By Maria Hendrischke

Ángel Santiesteban-Prats, the Cuban author of the critical blog Los hijos que nadie quiso (also available in English as "The Children Nobody Wanted") completed the first year of detention of his five-year sentence on Feb. 28, reported Reporters Without Borders, calling once again for the blogger’s release from prison.

Santiesteban-Prats was jailed on Feb. 28, 2013 after being sentenced to five years in prison for the charges of “home violation” and “injuries.” Blog Cuba Por Dentro said there was no hard evidence to support the charges.

The dissident blogger reports that during the year he has spent inside Prison 1580 in Havana, he has been repeatedly mistreated and tortured. In addition to that, his lawyer Amelia Rodríguez Cala has been suspended by Cuba’s National Association of Law Offices (ONBC), which, according to Reporters Without Borders, hindered her from successfully requesting the blogger’s release.

Santiesteban-Prats said that Cuban authorities started to harass him in 2009, right after he launched his blog, which is openly critical of the Cuban government. Santiesteban-Prats continues to write the blog from prison.

Several petitions aim to free the blogger and declare him a prisoner of conscience under Amnesty International's definition.

Santiesteban-Prats and the journalist José Antonio Torres are the only two imprisoned news producers in Cuba at the moment. Torres is in jail since 2011 for espionage after he reported on the government’s mismanagement of a construction project.

RSF has called the situation for journalists and public speakers in the island nation as “extremely worrying.” Cuba was ranked in place 170 out of 180 at the organization’s 2014 press freedom index for the government's continued attempts to intimidate independent and/or critical news providers through temporary and extended arrests. Censorship is also commonplace, according to the Inter-American Press Association (IAPA).

To report on Cuba’s current situation, prominent dissident blogger Yoani Sánchez, who is also a delegate for IAPA in Cuba, announced last month her plans to create a new independent digital newspaper on the island.

Note from the editor: This story was originally published by the Knight Center’s blog Journalism in the Americas, the predecessor of LatAm Journalism Review.