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Raúl Rivero is one of Cuba's best-known dissident journalists and a figurehead of the country's beleaguered independent press. He was arrested in 2003 and sentenced to twenty years imprisonment, but was released in November 2004 and arrived in Spain in April 2005. He has faced relentless harassment from Fidel Castro's communist regime and its security agency since leaving the state-controlled press in 1988 because of growing disillusionment with Cuba's political system.
Rivero was born in 1945 in Morón, Camagüey, in central Cuba. He was among the first generation of journalists trained at Havana University's School of Journalism after the 1959 revolution, and he co-founded the satirical magazine Caimán Barbudo in 1966. He worked as Moscow correspondent for the government news agency, Prensa Latina, from 1973 to 1976 before returning to Cuba to head the agency's science and culture service.
Rivero resigned from the National Union of Cuban Writers in 1989 and made a formal break with the regime two years later when on June 2, 1991, he signed the famous Carta de los Intelectuales (Intellectuals' Letter), a petition calling on Castro to free prisoners of conscience. Rivero abandoned official journalism in 1991, denouncing it as "fiction about a country that does not exist."
In 1995 Rivero founded CubaPress, one of a handful of independent, and illegal, news agencies set up by dissident journalists in order to provide an alternative to Cuba's state-owned media. Like the country's other forty-odd journalists working outside the state media, Rivero is viewed as a political dissident and could not publish or broadcast in Cuba. Instead, he sent his work abroad for circulation on the Internet and in U.S. and European publications, although publishing abroad can result in a jail sentence for spreading "enemy propaganda."
Rivero was awarded the World Press Freedom Prize in 2004. He has published several books of poetry, journalism, and interviews.