Desi Mendoza Rivero is sentenced to eight years in prison

Desi Mendoza Rivero, a 43-year-old doctor and father of four children, has been sentenced to eight years' imprisonment in connection with his critique of the authorities' handling of a fever epidemic in Cuba.

Arrested on June 25, 1997, Dr. Mendoza was tried on November 18, and currently is held in Boniato Prison, just outside Santiago de Cuba. The charge against him stemmed from statements he issued, which were later disseminated by foreign newspapers and broadcast media, regarding an epidemic of dengue fever in Santiago de Cuba which reportedly had caused several deaths. Dr. Mendoza accused the authorities of covering up the true extent of the epidemic and of not taking sufficient measures to control it. He was charged with having violated an article of the Penal Code which refers to the dissemination of "enemy propaganda" through the mass media.

(Source: Amnesty International USA's Freedom Writers Network, January 1998.)

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