Pedro Argüelles Morán

UPDATE (March 2011): Twenty of the writers, independent journalists and librarians jailed during atheMarch 2003 government crackdown on dissidents have now been freed under a deal brokered by the Catholic Church and the Spanish foreign ministry in July 2010. The 18 writers and independent journalists and librarians released between July and September 2010 were all forced to accept exile in Spain (three have reportedly since relocated, two to the USA and one to Chile). However, Pedro Argüelles Morán has refused to go into exile in exchange for his freedom, and as such remains detained. To read an interview he did from inside prison with blogger Yoani Sanchez in July 2010 please click here.

In recent weeks two further cases  have been released, but rather than being exiled they have been allowed to remain in Cuba
under a special parole programme, the first being Héctor Fernando Maseda
Gutiérrez, who was freed on 12 February, the second being Ivan
Hernandez Carrillo on 19 February. We are therefore hopeful that Pedro Argüelles Morán will be released in the near future. ***

DoB: 24 February 1948

Profession: director of Cooperativa Avileña de Periodistas Independientes (Avileña Independent Journalists Cooperative – CAPI)

Details of arrest: arrested as part of a crackdown on alleged dissidents that began on 18 March 2003 and in which around 90 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 put together a cogent defence.

Sentence: 20 years. Sentenced under Law 88.

Place of detention: Transferred in May 2003 from Santa Clara Provincial Prison, Villa Clara to Combinado del Este, Havana. Transferred in August 2004 to El Tiburón prison in the province of Sancti Spiritus, which is much nearer his home. Transferred to the Combinado del Este prison in November 2004. Transferred to Canaleta prison in Ciego de Ávila in November 2005 where he remains as of June 2007.

Health concerns: Argüelles reported in March 2004 that he had not been allowed visitors or medicine since November 2003. Also reported that he was suffering from cataracts and had lost a lot of weight. Reported in March 2005 to be suffering from inflammation of the liver. In July 2005, was reported to be suffering from cataracts in both eyes which had rendered him practically blind. In April 2007, he was hospitalised for his cataracts, but also diagnosed with a benign tumour of the prostate and severe arthritis. He reportedly went on hunger strike on 16 June 2007 to gain access to the medicines brought by his family. In September, he again went on hunger strike, alongside prisoners of conscience Adolfo Fernández Sainz and Antonio Dias Sanchez, to help the former gain access to religious materials, personal letters and photos which had been delivered to the prison by his wife. On 16 June 2009, it was reported that he had been returned to his cell after spending more than a month in the Ciego de Avila hospital. According to the report, doctors had told him that he would be taken to Havana to have an operation for a discal hernia and cataracts but he was later told he could not be operated on for his cataracts until an eye infection had cleared up. In February 2010, following the death in custody of dissident Orlando Zapata Tamayo, who died on 23 February after a prolonged hunger strike protesting pirons conditions, Argüelles reportedly went on hunger strike again for three days.

Honorary member: English PEN

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