Wednesday 8 May 1996

"Castro Government Demands the dismanteling of the Independent Press Bureau"

Reporte: Olance Nogueras

Officials of the State Security forces of the Cuban government announced new measures against the Cuban Independent Press Bureau (BPIC), during an interview with Julio Restano Diaz, the 75 year-old owner of the home in El Vedado, Havana, where the central office of the BPIC is located. Julio Restano is the father of Indamiro Restano, General Director of the BPIC, currently in Venezuela because Cuban authorities have denied his return.

According to Restano Suarez, detained during 11 hours in "Villa Marist", the general headquarters of the Cuban political police, the authorities communicated and order which demands the dismanteling of the BPIC office and the immediate cessation of the information services performed by the reporters who comprise its staff. Inaddition, the agents of the State Security stated that they would not tolerate the function of that agency, whixh is out of governmental control, because it is considered to be "inconstitutional".

In response, Julio Restano Suarez stated that the final word on the closing of the office would be determined by his son. "I respect the decision of my son (on this matter)", Restano Suarez expressed. "The office is located in his bedroom and only he can decide whether to dismantle it".

Lazaro Lazo, Interim Director of the BPIC, considers that in order for the work of the agency to survive, it is necessary to continue (even) without an office. "From now on, we have to utilize a new working strategy so that the state authorities cannot force our project to disappear. This causes us to be better professionals", Lazo stated. In this regard the BPIC executive will soon be makin a decision, after consulting with Indamiro Restano Diaz in Venezuela.

The BPIC is a non-official agency with over 20 correspondents, as well as representation in Europe, and North America.

"Indamiro Restano's Response from Venezuela"

Caracas - I have spoken to my parents and heve explained to them the real situation of the BPIC. The BPIC is each independent journalist working inside the island in his or her own information capacity, as free individual citizens. That is to say, that the BPIC exists when Olance Nogueras, Rozana Valdivia, Mercedes Moreno, Norma Brito and others, provide information. Having said that, the office located in my parent's home, which is also my home, is represented by me, and will therefore not be dismanteled until I am allowed to return to Cuba. Furthermore, even if I am allowed to return I cannot assure that I will dismatle it, since it is also my bedroom.

What do they want? Do they pretend that I will remove my office from there and that nothing will remain in that house and in this way destroy the spiritual energy feeding the work which was planted (by the BPIC), has grown, ahs spread its roots nationwide, and which will continue?

"If it is necessary, we will conduct guerrilla journalism"

Olance Nogueras Rofes, member of the BPIC, who has been detained on various occasions because of his work as an independent journalist and is confined to his native city of Cienfuegos before existing threats by the oppressive Cuban forces, makes the following declaration: "The journalists of the BPIC will continue denouncing the violation of human rights within Cuba; we will persevere with our duty of covering and informing on the events that occur inside the island and (if we must) are willing to carry pout guerrilla journalism. This ambulant form of journalism will depend on the more than 20 nation-wide correspondents, and will be performed in the name of the BPIC, from my place on the island. As long as there is and independent journalist left in Cuba, we will defend our right to the freedom of expression".