Radio Marti Highlights the Plight of Political Prisoners in Cuba

Miami, Florida, March 23, 2009 – Radio Marti’s special coverage of the sixth anniversary of “The Black Spring” included extensive interviews with political prisoners, their families and activists around the world about the plight of 75 dissidents arrested in Cuba in 2003.

“I will not ask for pity of clemency. I want to be free to go home and walk the streets a free man like we all have the right to do,” independent journalist Juan Carlos Herrera Acosta told Radio Marti, speaking directly from jail where he is serving a 20-year sentence for “crimes against state security.” He said his suffering has been unimaginable, but that he will always continue to defend the right to free speech. The most difficult thing he has had to endure while in prison, he said was the death of his young daughter.

Coverage of events in Havana and numerous live interviews with The Ladies in White, relatives of political prisoners, vividly highlighted their ordeals of the past six years

“We all have to be better mothers to our children because they don’t understand why good people go to prison,” said Magaly Broche a member of Ladies in White.

Among those interviewed was Melba Santana, wife of Alfredo Dominguez Batista, who was sentenced to 14 years in prison and is an Amnesty International Prisoner of Conscience; Alida Viso Bello, wife of Ricardo Gonzalez Alfonso, winner of the Maria Moors Cabot Award given by the School of Journalism of Columbia University who was sentenced to 20 years in prison; Julia Nunez, wife of Adolfo Fernandez Sainz, prisoner of conscience who was sentenced to 14 years in prison; and Alejandrina Garcia de la Riva, whose husband Diosdado Marrero is serving a 25 year sentence. They gave poignant testimony about families being separated, the effect on their children and their quest to seek freedom for their husbands.

The Ladies in White are the recipients of numerous international awards including the European Parliament’s Andrei Sakharov Award for Human Rights.

The special coverage online at and on air included interviews with:

– acclaimed Cuban writer Zoe Valdez speaking from Switzerland about worldwide efforts to seek the release of political prisoners in Cuba;
– Amnesty International’s spokesperson Josefina Solomon spoke from London about the concern with the plight of prisoners on the island;
– Carlos Lauria of the Committee to Protect Journalists in New York;
– Rafael Jimenez Claudin, from Reporters Without Borders in Spain; and
– Lucy Necasova of People in Need in the Czech Republic.

The Office of Cuba Broadcasting, which is funded by the U.S. government through the presidentially appointed Broadcasting Board of Governors, was established in 1990 to oversee the operations of Radio and TV Mart