Urgent Appeal                          April 2003

From inside Cuba, women human rights activists send an SOS:

To women all over the world
To all the First Ladies
To all Nobel Peace Prize laureates
To the International Committee of the Red Cross
To His Holiness Pope John Paul II
To all movements and organizations
To international public opinion:
We, the wives, mothers, sisters and daughters of 75 men and women, peaceful Cuban dissidents unjustly imprisoned in the recent wave of arrests…
We, human rights advocates, independent journalists and librarians, builders of Cuba's nascent civil society, and peaceful pro-democracy activists in our own right, who suffer the Cuban government's daily repression and harassment against our personal integrity and the safety of our families…
We ask for your support and solidarity in this international campaign to demand from the Cuban government the immediate release of our loved ones, who were recently arrested and tried for the sole "crime" of exercising their freedom of expression and thought, and for wanting national reconciliation and respect for human rights in our beloved country.
Last March 18th, the government launched a nationwide repressive wave, in which 79 human rights activists, members of the peaceful opposition, independent journalists and librarians, have been detained and are presently awaiting summary trials at State Security headquarters (Cuba's secret police).  They are practically incommunicado, and have been placed in very small cells along with common criminals. The cells are poorly ventilated and sanitary conditions are dreadful. Drinking water is scarce and the toilets are clogged, creating a health hazard.
The food provided them is both inadequate and insufficient; we are not allowed to provide them any food. Many of them already had serious health conditions at the time of their arrests, and we are deeply concerned that their health will continue to deteriorate.  Among those who are healthy, ailments could develop easily due to the precarious and stressful conditions in which they are being held. We fear for their lives and their physical and mental well-being.
Amnesty International has issued an "Alert", stating that all 79 might be pronounced Prisoners of Conscience. The trumped up charges for which all have been found guilty and been sentenced to terms ranging from 12 to 28 years, are:
· Alleged acts against the independence and territorial integrity of the Cuban State, and
· Alleged infractions of the 1999 Law No. 88 - Law for the Protection of Cuba's National Sovereignty and the Economy - particularly Article 91 wherein the maximum sentence is the death penalty.
We need your solidarity in petitioning the Cuban government for justice. We ask that you send your own letters, and that you write to your government, your congress or parliament, your country's civil and religious leaders, your women activists, your NGO's, and ask for their support on our behalf.  We ask that letters be written directly to president Fidel Castro asking for the immediate release of these peaceful activists. You may write to:
His Excellency, Dr. Fidel Castro Ruz   Fax Number: (011-537) 33-30-85
President of the Council of State and the Council of Ministers
La Habana, Cuba
Please also write that letters be sent to Cuba's Foreign Minister, to strengthen the growing condemnation of the international community in light of these arrests:
Mr. Felipe Pérez Roque E-mail:
Foreign Minister
Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores
Calzada #360
Vedado, La Habana, Cuba
We thank you for your thoughts, concern, and prayers, and for echoing our voices. 
SIGNED on April 4, 2003, in Havana:
Gisela Delgado Sablón
Claudia Márquez Linares
Giselle Recarey Delgado
Nancy Alfayá Hernández
Julia E.Núñez Pacheco
Dolia Leal Francisco
Blanca A. Reyes Castañón
Joana C. Fernández Núñez
Yolanda Huerga Cedeño
Alida Viso Bello
Miriam Leiva Viamonte
Yolanda Triana Estupíñan
Anisley Puente Varela
Quirenia Guerra Lugo
Beatriz del Carmen Pedroso
Isabel Ramos Martínez

This appeal was dictated via telephone to the Cuban Women for International Solidarity committee (Cubanas por la Solidaridad Internacional).
At publication time, all activists had been tried and sentenced to outrageous prison terms. The evidence the Cuban prosecutors presented against them were: tape recorders, books and human rights literature, fax machines, radios, and writing supplies...a veritable living chapter from George Orwell's novel 1984.  Hector Palacios (Ms. Delgado Sablón's husband) was sentenced to 25 years in prison; economists Martha Beatriz Roque Cabello and Miriam Leyva's husband, Oscar Espinosa Chepe, to 20 years; Blanquita Reyes' husband, award-winning poet and independent journalist Raúl Rivero, to 20; to mention a few. Sentences range from 12 to 28 years. Appeals were filed in Cuba's Supreme Court; however, our sisters inside Cuba have no hopes about the outcome of the appeals.
For more information, to send letters or copies of your correspondence, and to support these women and their families:
In Havana:
Gisela Delgado Sablón - Telephone: (011-537) 830-2103
National Executive Director of the Independent Libraries Movement
Wife of dissident Héctor Palacios Ruiz
Calle 25  #866  Apt. 3, entre A y B, Vedado
La Habana, Cuba

· Blanca Reyes Castañón - Telephone: (011-537) 879-5578
Wife of poet Raúl Rivero
Peñalver  #466  Apt. 4, entre Franco y Oquendo
Centro Habana, Cuba

· Miriam Leiva Viamonte - Telephone: (011-537) 209-4645
Independent journalist
Wife of economist Oscar Espinosa Chepe

In the United States:
Ileana Fuentes / Alina Tomás - Telephone: (305) 594-0792
Cubanas por la Solidaridad Internacional / Cuban Women for International