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February 28, 2008


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Since reading the article in the New Statesman about Normando Hernández González, I have written to the Minister to support his case.


Perhaps you can help explain?

I have known Don Touhig since we were both county councillors from 1974 onwards. He has many fine qualities. He alongwith Paul Murphy campaigned for a No vote in the 1979 referendum.

Now to be indifferent at best, or even angry, at the many successes of devolution is puzzling and perverse. The same applies to the coalition.

Normal Mouth

"We might find out what motivates his anti-devolution obsessions."

You know already and it is disingenuous to pretend otherwise. You might not agree, but you understand well enough the case against, or ought to anyway.


This is the first I have heard about this imprisoned journalist. I'll make inquiries.
If the information quoted is true, of course I would support the journalist and I have backed persecuted journalists in other countries

paul goddard

Getting off topic can i ask the following, you signed this EDM: EDM 982

Burgon, Colin
That this House commends the achievements of Fidel Castro in securing first-class free healthcare and education provision for the people of Cuba despite the 44 year illegal US embargo of the Cuban economy; notes the great strides Cuba has taken during this period in many fields such as biotechnology and sport in both of which Cuba is a world leader; acknowledges the esteem in which Castro is held by the people and leaders of Africa, Asia and Latin America for leading the calls for emancipation of the world's poorest people from slavery, hunger and the denial of human rights such as the right to life, the right to shelter, the right to healthcare and basic medicines and the right to education; welcomes the EU statement that constructive engagement with Cuba at this time is the most responsible course of action; and calls upon the Government to respect Cuba's right to self-determination and resist the aggressive forces within the US Administration who are openly planning their own illegal transition in Cuba.

Will you be also putting forward an EDM for Normando Hernández González


A jailed Cuban journalist whose health is rapidly deteriorating in the face of prison-contracted diseases has been chosen as one of four writers to mark the Day of the Imprisoned Writer on 15 November. The special day, held on the same date each year, is organised by PEN, the writers' organisation that backs persecuted authors around the world.

Normando Hernández González was imprisoned in 2003 for reports and broadcasts on the internet and Radio Martí that were said by the government to endanger security. Hernández was found guilty of spying and threatening national security, crimes that carry a 25-year jail term. He was one of 75 journalists arrested in the Cuban government crackdown on the press in 2003 and, according to PEN, remains one of 59 still held by the regime.

He was thrown a glimmer of hope a few months ago when the government of Costa Rica effectively granted him asylum in absentia, launching a plea for his release after reports of a downward turn in his condition.

The move came about after Hernández's mother, Bianca González, appealed to Costa Rican legislators to intervene.

José Manuel Echandi, a former Defender of the Citizens in Costa Rica, answered the call and accused Cuba of torture in blocking the journalist's release.

The Cuban journalist's illness has been partly brought about by a hunger strike he began six months ago, but he has also contracted tuberculosis in prison. Hernández has spent most of the past 12 months in a maximum security prison, but was recently moved to a hospital for treatment.

At Echandi's request, Costa Rica asked Cuba to free Hernández and allow him to be transferred across the Caribbean Sea for health care attention in that country. When they received no response, Echandi wrote to the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Louise Arbour, to seek help to speed his release.

Press freedom watchdog Reporters Without Borders is also backing the request that Hernández should be transported to Costa Rica.

"Humanitarian concerns are clearly paramount as regards all prisoners of conscience," the organisation said.

Cuba has more journalists locked up than any other country in the world, apart from China. Those still held since March 2003 are serving sentences ranging from 14 to 27 years.

According to Reporters Without Borders, three journalists held in Cuba were arrested after Fidel Castro's brother Raú took over the running of the country last year.


You mean me? Surely not.

I have a go at the Government, and all all other parties, as frequently in parliament as anywhere else.

Oh that Don Touhig had a blog. We might find out what motivates his anti-devolution obsessions.

What is surprising that these standard Tory jibes were delivered in the cockpit of the Commons to the chortling delights of the Tories.

The blog is open for all to comment on. I do not need hide behind anonymity as you do, Normal mouth

Normal Mouth

"Why he should choose to devote an entire speech into putting the boot into his own party is beyond me."

Quite. He should save it for a blog, as you do.

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