Nominated for Reporters Without Borders Prize / Iván García, Tania Quintera

Ivan Garcia (L.), Tania Quintera (C.) and Raul Rivero (R.) Summer 2000
Ivan Garcia (L.), Tania Quintera (C.) and Raul Rivero (R.) Summer 2000

Tania Quintero and Iván García, Lucerne and Havana, 25 October 2016 — To all our friends:

Thank you for the congratulatory emails to Ivan and me (Tania Quintera) for having been nominated by Reporters Without Borders for their Press Freedom Prize in the category of Citizen Journalists.

Thanks also for the notices published in Diario de CubaDiario Las Américas and Martí Noticias.

Let me dwell on the photo from Martí Noticias, the only one where Raul Rivero, Ivan and I all appear together. In the caption they say they we are in the press room of the Cuba Press agency, but as Raul Rivero used to say, Cuba Press was an “abstraction”: it never had a headquarters or a press room.

Most of the time, the thirty some journalists of Cuba Press, climbed the three flights of stairs to the apartment of Raul and his wife Blanca Reyes, at 466 Penalver between Oquenda and Francos streets in Central Havana, and from its phone, a black apparatus with the number 79-5578, located on the hall table, we dictated our articles to people in Miami or Madrid and they posted them on the internet.  We’re talking about the years 1995-1998.

We had no internet and few Havana homes had cordless phones, which now are common. Then, we didn’t even dream of cellphones, texting, Twitter, Whatsapp, Facebook… If I remember rightly, it was in 199 when 2 or 3 of us from Cuba Press, among them Ivan and I, got some money and went to the Carlos III Mall and bought fax machines, and through them sent our work, a “luxury” in the midst of so much insecurity.

The photo from Marti Noticias, posted here, was taken in the summer of 2000 for a report on Cuban independent journalism, prepared by the Swiss journalists Ruedi Leuthold and Beat Bieri.

Raul in his only denim shirt, Ivan with his Sunday t-shirt, and me with my “coming and going” dress (in 2000 the island of the Castro’s was still living in “a special period in a time of peace”), we were ar Ricardo Gonzales Alfonso’s house, in 88th Street between 9th and 7th, in Miramar.

Three years later, on April 4, 2003, Ricardo and Raul would be tried together in the People’s Court of Diez de Octubre, and sentenced to 20 years in prison. For health reasons, Raul was released in late 2004 and April 1, 2005 came to Madrid as a political refugee.

Ricardo remained in prison until July 2010, when the negotiations between the Catholic Church, the Ladies in White, the Spanish government and Raul Castro, the political prisoners of the Group of 75 were freed and he was exiled to Spain. Ricardo continues to live in Spain, and in Cuba, it is worth remembering, was a correspondent for Reporters Without Borders.

Along with the two of us, Reporters Without Borders is also recognizing the hundreds of journalists, independent, alternative and unofficial today who in Cuba do or try to do journalism by and for Cubans.

But honestly, to be fair, that award should be given to those who are faring worse than we are: our colleagues Lu Li Yuyu Tingyu arrested in China; Ali Al-Mearay, arrested in Bahrain; Negad Roya Saberi, an Iranian-Britin sentenced to five years in prison in Tehran; the Brazilian of Japanese origin Leonardo Sakamoto; or the site SOS Média, of Burundi.