Pedro Argüelles Morán was the editor of Cooperativa Avilena de Periodistas Independientes (CAPI) and a contributor to CubaPress, Cuba Free Press and Nueva Prensa, all independent publications that are known to be critical of former President Fidel Castro’s regime. He was arrested on 18 March 2003 as part of a crackdown on alleged dissidents in Cuba, now known as the Black Spring.
Following the one-day trial on 3/4 April 2003, which was held behind closed doors and for which he was not given sufficient time to put together a cogent defence, Pedro Argüelles Morán was sentenced to 20 years imprisonment under Cuban Law No.88.
For Argüelles, who had begun working as a journalist eleven years before his arrest, in 1992, this was not the first time that he had been in trouble with the regime. He had already been detained a number of times by the Cuban police, and in 1998 he was charged with “affront” for having attempted to smuggle information on human rights violations from the prison where he was then detained for political activities. No trial ever took place, but he knew that he faced the possibility of a two-year prison sentence at any moment.
As is often the case with political prisoners, for whom guards reportedly reserve their worst treatment, Argüelles’ health has deteriorated significantly over the course of his detention. According to our information, he has suffered from cataracts in both eyes, which has left him practically blind. In addition, he has reportedly suffered from inflammation of the liver and has lost a great deal of weight. In April 2007, he was transferred to hospital for treatment for cataracts, during which time he was also diagnosed with severe arthritis and a benign tumour of the prostate.
Having been transferred from prison to prison several times, he was most recently reported to be being held at Canaleta prison in Ciego de Avila. It has been reported that throughout his detention he has not only been denied proper access to visitors, but also to the medicine that his family have brought to the prison on his behalf. On 16 June 2007, he went on a hunger strike in order to gain access to this medicine.
On 19 September 2008, alongside prisoners of conscience Adolfo Fernández Sainz and Antonio Dias Sanchez, Pedro Argüelles Morán began another hunger strike. They brought the hunger strike to a successful end on the morning of the 23 September, when the authorities of Canaleta Prison in Ciego de Avila handed over the religious literature which had been withheld from fellow prisoner Fernández Sainz since 16 September.
English PEN firmly believes that his conviction and continued detention are in violation of international human rights standards to which Cuba is party, particularly Article 19 of the UN Declaration of Human Rights. We therefore continue to urge that, at the very least, he is treated more humanely for the remainder of his detention, that he is provided with the necessary medical attention and granted full access to his family and lawyers. Nonetheless, we maintain that the only truly humane and just solution in this case, and for all those unlawfully arrested in March 2003, is to release him unconditionally.
Originally posted with the url: www.englishpen.org/writersinprison/campaigns/cubacampaign/honorarymemberpedroargellesmorn/