By ISMAEL TORRES, .c The Associated Press, March 22
MONTEGO BAY, Jamaica (AP) -- A Cuban reporter told an Inter American Press Association conference that he and other journalists are terrified that a new sedition law in Cuba will be used to target them.
Participants at the IAPA meeting in Montego Bay, Jamaica, on Sunday also heard reports from Paraguayan journalists who claim the government there is trying to silence them.
In a telephone call from Cuba, independent journalist Raul Rivero told the conference that a new law passed Feb. 16 has coincided with more intense harassment of journalists by secret police.
``We're living in a tense vacuum because with this new law, anything could happen,'' said Rivero, president of the association's Cuba chapter.
The law punishes political dissent with a maximum prison sentence of 20 years. On March 15, a Cuban court sentenced four people to jail terms ranging from 3 1/2 to five years under the new law.
It also bans imports of ``subversive'' materials and equipment to disseminate that information as well as barring Cubans from cooperating with news media if it affects U.S. policy against Cuba.
``From now on, because of this juridical sleight of hand, a group of journalists, intellectuals and citizens can be fined, deprived of our possessions and sent to prison for the act of expressing ourselves freely,'' Rivero said.
Paraguayan journalists Raul Melaned and Alberto Vargas Pena, faced with criminal charges of inciting the overthrow of the government, said they were being punished for supporting President Raul Cubas in his political battle against the country's Congress and judiciary.
Congress is moving to impeach Cubas for freeing a former general convicted for refusing to step down as commander of the army.
The association, the largest grouping of newspaper publishers from across the Americas, said it would send a delegation to Paraguay to investigate the dispute.
Copyright 1999 The Associated Press