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Pablo Pacheco Avila
'THE ENEMIES OF FREEDOM COULD HAVE STRENGTH BUT NOT REASON, THEY COULD HAVE LAWS BUT NOT JUSTICE; THEY COULD HAVE NEWS MEDIA BUT NOT TRUTH. THEY COULD MANIPULATE MAN’S THOUGHTS BUT NOT HIS CONSCIENCE; THEY COULD IMPRISON THE BODY BUT NOT THE SPIRIT.' - Pablo Pacheco, from prison, November 2003

Pablo Pacheco, 35, is married with one young son. He works for an unofficial agency called Cooperativa Avileña de Periodistas Independientes, Avileña Cooperative of Independent Journalists, in Ciego de Avila. On 18 March 2003, Pablo Pacheco was arrested in one of the most severe crackdowns on the dissident movement in Cuba since the years following the 1959 revolution. He was sentenced to 20 years' imprisonment under articles of Law 88 which provides lengthy prison terms for those found guilty of supporting United States policy on Cuba aimed at ‘disrupting internal order, destabilising the country and destroying the Socialist State and the independence of Cuba’. He is currently held in Morón Municipal Prison, Prisión Municipal de Morón, Ciego de Avila province.

It is believed that Pablo Pacheco’s arrest and sentencing were politically motivated, relating to his legitimate journalistic activities and peaceful exercise of his right to freedom of expression and association, and Amnesty International therefore considers Pablo Pacheco to be a prisoner of conscience.

Pablo Pacheco reportedly suffers from migraine, acute gastritis, chronic synovitis (inflammation of a membrane covering the sinews in the knee), renal ptosis (displacement of the kidney) and high blood pressure.

After being arrested in March 2003, Pablo Pacheco began his 20-year sentence in Prisión de Agüica, municipality of Colón, Matanzas province. In August 2004, he was transferred from Agüica Prison to Morón Municipal Prison in his home province of Ciego de Avila. In December 2004 he was reportedly temporarily transferred to a Havana prison for a medical check up and then back to Morón Municipal Prison. In February 2005 he was reportedly sent to a Ciego de Avila Provincial Hospital to be examined for synovitis, but because the machinery was broken the examination could not take place. He was told he would need physiotherapy and was returned to Morón Municipal Prison in July 2005.

We are concerned for Pablo Pacheco's health, and is calling for his immediate and unconditional release.

    For further information and actions
    Pablo Pacheco Avila
    Prisión Municipal de Morón
    Ciego de Avila province
    Cuba

News Updaters
Whether young or old, many of Cuba's political prisoners suffer from poor health in Fidel Castro's gulag. It seems that every week, family members or other contacts report on the poor health of a particular prisoner of consicence, and how little their jailers are doing for them.

Last week, CubaNet reported that imprisoned journalist Pablo Pacheco Avila, 36, was in a hospital in Ciego de Ávila suffering from a variety of ailments, including gastritis and problems with his spine and kidneys.

Publicity about the prisoners' poor health is vital since international pressure has succeeded in helping with the release of other dissidents on medical parole.

Pacheco was well familiar with Castro's repressive ways before he was sentenced to 20 years in prison in 2003.

In 1998, he was sentenced to 3 1/2 years in prison for "enemy propaganda," according to Payolibre.

Reporters Without Borders has more.

He was detained three times in 2002 for "unlawful association" but was released each time after a few hours. His phone line was often cut when something happened in Ciego de Ávila to prevent him from contributing a report to Radio Martí, the US government radio station that beams programmes to Cuba.

Pacheco maintained that he was not the target of systematic harassment, but his family was the victim of bureaucratic reprisals. His wife, a doctor in a clinic, was overburdened with work but their four-year-old boy was denied a place in the day-care centre. His elderly mother, who lives in the United States, was subject to extensive and humiliating searches at the airport on both arrival and departure when she made a visit in August 2002.

Pacheco, a contributor to the Ciego de Ávila Independent Journalists Cooperative (CAPI), was arrested March 18, 2003, as part of the "black spring" roundup of 75 journalists, librarians, human rights activists and other dissidents.

On April 4 — his 33rd birthday — Pacheco was convicted and sentenced to 20 years' in prison under Law 88 which provides lengthy prison terms for those found guilty of supporting United States policy on Cuba aimed at "disrupting internal order, destabilising the country and destroying the Socialist State and the independence of Cuba," according to Amnesty International.

Amnesty International continues:

It is believed that Pablo Pacheco’s arrest and sentencing were politically motivated, relating to his legitimate journalistic activities and peaceful exercise of his right to freedom of expression and association, and Amnesty International therefore considers Pablo Pacheco to be a prisoner of conscience.

Background Informaiton
Freedom of association, assembly and expression in Cuba are severely limited in law and in practice. Journalists belonging to independent press agencies are routinely harassed, intimidated, threatened and detained and many have been tried and sentenced. At least 15 current prisoners of conscience are journalists. In March 2003, the Cuban government carried out the most severe crackdown on the dissident movement since the years following the 1959 revolution. Scores of dissidents were detained, 75 of whom were subjected to summary trials and quickly sentenced to prison terms ranging from 26 months to 28 years.

This crackdown came as a surprise to many observers who believed that Cuba might be moving towards a more open and tolerant approach towards opponents of the regime: the number of prisoners of conscience had declined and had been superseded by short term detentions, interrogations, summonses, threats, intimidation, eviction, loss of employment, restrictions on travel, house searches or physical or verbal acts of aggression.

The events of March/April 2003 signaled a step backwards for Cuba in terms of respect for human rights. The authorities tried to justify the crackdown by citing provocation and aggression from the United States. Amnesty International declared the 75 convicted dissidents to be prisoners of conscience and called for their immediate and unconditional release, since the conduct for which dissidents were prosecuted was non-violent and fell within the parameters of the legitimate exercise of fundamental freedoms as guaranteed under international standards. Amnesty International believes the charges are politically motivated and disproportionate to the alleged offences.

APPEAL ACTION
Please write to the Cuban authorities calling on them to:
  • Release Pablo Pacheco Avila immediately and unconditionally, as he is a prisoner of conscience, imprisoned solely for the peaceful and legitimate exercise of his right to freedom of expression and association
  • Ensure that Pablo Pacheco is granted access to adequate medical treatment whenever necessary
  • Ensure that conditions of detention for all prisoners of conscience conform to international standards; in particular, prisoners should be granted access to adequate medical care as necessary, and should not be subjected to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment
  • Suspend Law 88 and similar legislation which facilitates the detention of those peacefully exercising their rights to freedom of expression and association
  • Take concrete actions to ensure that there will be no further arrest of individuals purely for the legitimate and peaceful exercise of their rights to freedom of expression and association

    Please send your appeal to:

      Fax: 00 53 7 669 485/ 333 164
      Salutation: Dear Attorney General/ Señor Fiscal
      Dr Juan Escalona Reguera
      Fiscal General de la República,
      Fiscalía General de la República,
      San Rafael 3,
      La Habana.
      Cuba

APPEAL ACTION
  • Information on Pablo Pacheco at Amnesty International
  • FREEDOM IS A RIGHT OF ALL HUMAN BEINGS IN A WORLD WHERE LIFE IS VALUED AND PEACE MAY FINALLY BE A POSSIBILITY
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