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HAPPY AT 90 MILES » Jailed Cuban dissident writer wins Norwegian award
Jul
02
2009

Jailed Cuban dissident writer wins Norwegian award

Normando's wife, Yarai and their daughter, Daniela wait for his call from prison.

Normando's wife, Yarai and their daughter, Daniela wait for his call from prison.


Bloomberg reports that Normando Hernandez Gonzalez was awarded the annual Freedom of Expression award by the Norwegian Writer’s Union. Normando, whose name coincidentally means northlander, is in his sixth year of a 25 year sentence. One of the 29 independent journalists jailed during the infamous crackdown of March 2003 known as “Black Spring”, Normando’s crime was having written critical articles about the failures of the national health and education system.

As Cuba’s jails are in deplorable conditions, he has spent much of his incarceration suffering from various illnesses. Normally prize winners are invited to oslo, but because of Normando’s incarceration Norwegian Writer’s Union’s President Anne Oterholm and writer Henrik Hovland went to Cuba to present the prize to Normando’s wife. While there, they were able to talk to him on the phone. Normando received news of the prize dedicating it to for all political prisoners in Cuba, of which there are more than 250.

Norway’s NRK TV has this video of the Norwegian’s visit to Normando’s wife. (Audio only in Norwegian and Spanish)

Bloomberg’s Jeremy Gerard interviewed Alberto Gonzalez, a spokesman for the Cuban government about the case.
“We do not consider him to be a journalist,” he said of Normando Gonzalez. “The crimes he committed were very real, crimes linked to the American section in Havana.”

The spokesman goes on to claim that no Cuban prisoner has died in custody, a flat out lie not only in light of Jorge Alvart’s eyewitness account but hundreds of others reports documented at Cubanet and Uncommon Sense.

Normando never denied having received support, such as computers and books from the American Interest section in Havana. Henrik Hovland says in the video, “Just because Normando has been embraced by groups in the U.S. isn’t grounds for us to ignore this case of a Cuban writer jailed for 25 years for being a dissident.

Here’s a letter from the Norwegian chapter of P.E.N. asking Raul Castro to release Normando. That was in 2007, Castro must have not gotten it…

Here’s hoping for a general amnesty for the jailed opponents of the regime. Since they can’t leave the island and the population is under constant surveillance, there’s no reason for keeping them in prison.

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