Expressing what you thinkPublished: Jan 16, 2024 Reading time: 2 minutes
Lazaro Yuri Valle Roca is one of the thousands of political journalists who are still locked away in a Cuban prison. Yuri’s crime was being an independent journalist who wrote what he thought.
But Yuri had an advantage. He is the grandson of Blas Roca Calderio, who was part of Fidel Castro’s inner circle. Blas Roca was the director of the newspaper “Today, an organ of the Communist Party. Yuri, 60 years old, spent his days growing up around the Communist elite. This proximity to power showed him the social inequality that members of Cuban society faced.
Yuri used independent journalism to show the reality of life in Cuba. He exposed inequality between the people and the party, the hunger, and the suppression of journalists and human rights advocates. A pursuit of the truth tore his family apart when his grandfather finally became disillusioned and disgusted by Fidel Castro’s actions. Yuri wrote about his grandfather’s change of heart. Consequently, he was arrested and sentenced to five years in prison for printing “enemy propaganda” and “resisting arrest”.
Voices from all over the world were raised in protest. The Committee for the Protection of Journalists condemned the arrest. “The arrest of Valle Roca is a clear signal that the Cuban government is reverting to its extremist methods to censor the press.” The Nobel Peace Prize laureate, Oscar Arias, demanded freedom for Yuri. “Cuba is a dictatorship that hurts those who love freedom. There is nothing worse than being afraid to speak your mind,” said the former President of Costa Rica. Yuri’s wife, Eralidis Frometa, has also announced that she lives in fear for her husband’s health in prison. She worries that he is being denied medical treatment. “This false imprisonment has been happening in our family for generations now. I think that this latest incarceration—that has happened to my husband—is Raul Castro trying to get even.”