The Power of Cuba's Powerless

A little more than a year ago, poet and journalist Raúl Rivero Castañeda wrote that he refused to let America's embargo against Cuba define the international debate over the fate of the island's 11 million people. "In this country, the real blockade, the one that affects the daily life of the people is the internal governing system," he declared. Since then, Rivero has endured his own private blockade.

Cuba's internal system is one that Rivero managed to avoid annoying too much until March of this year. But over three days that month, the Cuban government arrested Rivero and 27 other independent journalists. By April, all had been sentenced to 14-27 years in prison. The journalists were part of a spring sweep that turned 75 Cubans-including librarians, writers, and other professionals-into political prisoners.

For Rivero and journalists who smuggled their missives abroad, it was their insistence on writing what they saw and felt that put them in jail. That fidelity to the truth could now kill them. Rivero and journalist Oscar Espinosa Chepe, 62, are both ill, their families tell visitors. Rivero, who has lost much weight, has circulatory problems, and Espinosa suffers from a worsening liver disease.

To continue reading, please log in or enter your email address.

To read this article from our archive, please log in or register now. After entering your email, you'll have access to two free articles from our archive every month. For unlimited access to Project Syndicate, subscribe now.


By proceeding, you agree to our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy, which describes the personal data we collect and how we use it.

Log in;

Cookies and Privacy

We use cookies to improve your experience on our website. To find out more, read our updated cookie policy and privacy policy.