Notes from the Underground, Part 2

The latest dispatch from independent journalists in Cuba: Castro is cracking down

"What they are doing is preparing public opinion so that when they arrest us it will seem justified," Torres says. In the past, he observes, similar articles castigating so-called counterrevolutionaries appeared in the national press just prior to a wave of arrests.

At least two journalists from the Bureau of Independent Press in Cuba have decided to leave the island, though Lazaro Lazo and Olance Nogueras both made up their minds last fall, before Law 80 was approved. Asserting that they can no longer stand the constant threats to themselves and their families, they sought and received visas from the United States Interest Section in Havana. Jorge Olivera, the homeless reporter from Havana Press, says he too is considering leaving if his family cannot find a permanent place to live.

"I don't think you should criticize anyone for leaving the country," Torres muses. "The fact is some of our colleagues have already [left], and I think others will leave rather than go to jail. Our forefathers did it. Jose Marti did it. [Antonio] Maceo did it. Fidel Castro himself did it when he was let out of prison and went into exile in Mexico. I think it is understandable. This is a very difficult decision to face."

Of course, the decision isn't theirs alone: Even if more of Torres's colleagues do want to leave, obtaining a foreign visa is not a simple matter. Nor is scraping together plane fare; though Lazo wants to leave, he says he has no way to pay for tickets. Torres says he is prepared for arrest. "In my personal case, I am ready, and if I have to go to prison, I will go.

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