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Czech NGO helps democrats in Cuba

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Prague, Sept 29 (CTK) – The Czech NGO People in Need helps develop democracy in Cuba by training journalists and the writers of samizdat papers, coordinator of its Latin American programme Lucia Arguellova told journalists on Friday.

The People in Need has been focusing on support for the dissent and victims of the Communist regime in Cuba for 20 years.

During the time, the regime’s grip has loosened, but there are still thousands of people there whose human rights are violated, facing interference in their personal freedom, Arguellova said.

“We have no permanent expert in Cuba, but a few coordinators. These people have long-term contacts through which we communicate with various groups,” Arguellova said.

In this way, the People in Need is in contact with tens of journalists, human rights activists and small organisations that try to develop free civic society, she added.

“We must take the journalists out because their training directly in Cuba cannot be arranged,” Arguellova.

“They would be rapidly sent to prison or at least detained for several hours,” Arguellova said.

“Most of them were in Prague and now we also have a branch in Costa Rica,” she added.

“The training is concentrated on audio visual creation. Some journalists have managed to sell their reports to the U.S. media,” Arguellova said.

Although access to the Internet is possible on the island, it is still beyond the means of a large part of Cubans, primarily for financial reasons, she added.

“The price of one-hour online access to the world costs 1.5 dollar or even more,” Arguellova said.

“This is the same sum for Cubans as a month of their commuting to work by bus,” the People in Need said in its press release.

The radio and television, heavily controlled by the government, are the main source of news, Arguellova said.

This is why the People in Need supports the samizdat.

“Within one project, people try online to find out what happened in the world. Then this is rewritten on the computer, printed and distributed in a community,” Arguellova said.

The group also provides consultancy to the victims of the regime reprisals, which is made by human rights defenders.

“If a victim needs legal advice, the defenders redirect the victim to us, writing down what happened,” Arguellova said.

The activities then post stories of the persecuted people with their consent on the webpage

“This is the only platform with information on arbitrary detentions and questionings,” Arguellova said.

The People in Need celebrates the 25th anniversary of its foundation this June. It deals with socially marginalised people and supports civic education, and media and financial literacy.

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