Case of the month February 2007 Normando Hernández González

Normando Hernández GonzálezDob: c. 1970

Profession: Director of Colegio de Periodistas Independientes de Camagüey (Camagüey College of Independent Journalists) and journalist (CubaNet)

Details of arrest: Arrested as part of a crackdown on alleged dissidents that began on 18 March 2003 and in which around 80 people were detained. 

Details of trial: One of 35 journalists, writers and librarians sentenced during the one-day trials held on 3/4 April 2003 under laws governing the protection of the Cuban State. The one-day court hearings were held behind closed doors and it is reported that there was insufficient time for the accused to prepare a defence.

Sentence: 25 years. Sentenced under Article 91 and other provisions of the Criminal Code.

Place of detention: Kilo 5½ prison, Pinar del Río (until December 2006)


Recent developments: In December 2006, Hernández was transferred to a provincial hospital in Camagüey. Having lost 35 pounds due to poor gastrointestinal absorption, he was reportedly on the verge of death. English PEN is calling for his immediate release on health grounds.

Background: On March 18, 2003, the Cuban government initiated a severe crackdown on independent journalists, detaining a large number of writers, journalists, human rights activists and librarians, alleged to have committed ‘treason’. Labelled as ‘mercenaries’, Hernández and the other defendants were accused of attempting to subvert State authority by working with and spying for American authorities and reporting lies to the foreign press about Cuba in hopes of triggering foreign action. During the trials, it became clear that the Government penalized the defendants for holding dissident views and disseminating unwelcome information.

Since his imprisonment in April 2003, Hernández has suffered from continuous health concerns, largely as a result of being held in extremely poor prison conditions. Over the last three years, these health problems have included high blood pressure, undiagnosed heart problems, abdominal problems, tuberculosis, chronic diarrhoea and a stomach ulcer. He has been offered only the most basic medical services. Shuffled between prison cells and transferred back and forth between hospitals and prison, Hernández has not been able to properly recover from his illnesses. It is also reported that Hernández has staged several hunger strikes protesting prison conditions, been assaulted by guards, placed in cells with dangerous and mentally disturbed prisoners, and at times held in solitary confinement. In addition, his wife has suffered harassment and obstruction when trying to visit Hernández; on at least one occasion, she was stripped naked and interrogated before allowed in to see him.

Read Terence Blacker’s article ‘Spare a Thought for Castro’s Lonely Victims’ in the Independent


Please send appeals:

– Expressing alarm at the deteriorating health of Normando Hernández González and urging the Cuban authorities to immediately provide all necessary medical attention;

– Calling for his release on medical grounds and the release of all writers and journalists in Cuban prisons in violation of their right to freedom of expression.


Appeals may be sent to:

President Raul Castro Ruz
Presidente Interino (Head of State)
La Habana, Cuba
Fax: + 53 7 8333085

Dr Juan Escalona Reguera
Fiscal General de la República
Fiscalía General de la República, San Rafael 3, La Habana, Cuba
Fax: + 53 7 669 485 / 333 164

Interior Minister
General Abelardo Colomé Ibarra
Ministro del Interior y Prisiones
Ministerio del Interior, Plaza de la Revolución, La Habana, Cuba
Fax: + 53 7 8301 566

Or it may be most effective to send the above appeals via the Cuban embassy in London:

HE René J. Mujica Cantelar
Embassy of the Republic of Cuba
167 High Holborn
London WC1 6PA

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