Prisoner of the Month April 2005 Normando Hernández González

Independent online journalist Normando Hernández González was arrested as part of Cuba’s crackdown on alleged dissidents in the spring of 2003. Some 80 people were detained; Hernández, who is also the director of the Camagüey Independent School of Journalism, was one of 34 journalists, writers and librarians sentenced during one-day trials held on 3/4 April 2003. Tried behind closed doors, without the opportunity to put together a cogent defence, Hernández was sentenced to 25 years under Article 91 of the Cuban penal code, which deals with acts against “the independence of the territorial integrity of the state.”

From the start of his detention Hernández has suffered from extremely high blood pressure. On 31 August 2003 he began a hunger strike in protest against prison conditions; he had reportedly been held in solitary confinement. Hernández was later transferred to Kilo 5½ Prison in Pinar del Río. In January 2004, after filing a report of assault by the prison’s security chief, Hernández was reported to be held in a 2 square metre cell, which he shared with dangerous and mentally unstable prisoners.

Hernández has kept up a courageous fight throughout his detention. On 7 May 2004 he was transferred to Block 8, a section housing common criminals, where he was beaten for shouting anti-Castro slogans. “The prison director and three more officials carried Normando by force after he yelled, ‘Down with Fidel!’ for which they brutally attacked him and then transferred him to a section with 106 common prisoners, in deplorable and inhumane conditions,” explains his wife, Yaria Reyes. Hernández began a second hunger strike in protest against this transfer; this time, two common prisoners joined him.

In November 2004, Reyes received reports that her husband was losing a substantial amount of weight owing to chronic diarrhea and intestinal problems. Throughout his time in prison, Hernández’s health has been precarious; he was briefly hospitalised in September 2004, and also suffers from an undiagnosed heart condition.

Please send appeals to:

His Excellency Fidel Castro Ruz

President of Cuba

c/o Cuban Mission to the United Nations

New York, NY


Fax: 00 1 212 779 1697

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