By Pablo Alfonso
Herald Staff Writer
Cuban authorities have ordered the shutdown of the Independent Press Bureau of Cuba(BPIC) and have forbidden its writers to transmit news reports overseas.
According to a source on the island, the order was given Thursday to Julio Suarez, 75, whose son, Yndamiro Restano, is founder and director of BPIC. Suarez owns the building in the Vedado section of Havana that houses BPIC's offices.
On Friday, The Herald was unable to reach Restano for comment.
Security agents held Suarez for questioning for 11 hours at Villa Marista prison before handing him the shutdown order and releasing him, BPIC writer Norma Brito said Friday.
The agents told Suarez that the existence of a news agency not controlled by the state is "illegal and unconstitutional," Brito said.
"For a 75-year-old man like Julio, the interrogation was intense, and he was subjected to a lot of pressure," she told The Herald.
Her colleagues at BPIC have expressed their determination to continue their work despite threats and harassment from the government, Brito said.
"We'll go on, with or without a permanent home, even if we have to meet under the Almendares bridge," she added , referring to the river that separates the Vedado and Marianao sections of the capital.
Brito said independent journalists have been constant targets of official harassment since the government launched a campaign against intellectuals at the recent Communist Party plenum in March.
On April 26, security agents entered the news bureau's offices and removed all files, technical equipment and office supplies, Brito said.
Brito said she was detained for three days at a police station and was warned that she could be imprisoned indefinitely if she persisted in working as an independent journalist.
"We have 30 correspondents throughout the nation and two relay centers overseas, all of which will continue to operate," he said.
The Cuban government crackdown on independent journalists was denounced this week by several international organizations including the New York-based Committee for the Protection of Journalists, which on Thursday designated President Fidel Castro as one of the world's 10 worst "Enemies of the Press."
Saturday, May 4, 1996