The IPI global network mourns the death of Cuban journalist, poet and IPI World Press Freedom Hero Raúl Rivero, who passed away due to illness on November 6, 2021, in Miami. Rivero was one of the best-known dissident journalists in Cuba and a fierce advocate of press freedom in the country.

Rivero was one of the first journalists to graduate from Havana University’s School of Journalism after the 1959 revolution. He was also one of the many Cuban intellectuals who supported the revolution in the beginning but later criticized the Cuban regime.

Rivero worked for the government news agency La Prensa, and other state-owned media, for more than three decades. Later on, he was a secretary of the National Union of Writers and Artists of Cuba (UNEAC), before resigning and abandoning official journalism in 1991, when he signed the famous Carta de los Intelectuales (Intellectuals’ Letter), a petition calling on Castro to free political prisoners.

In 1995 Rivero founded CubaPress, one of the few independent newsrooms providing an alternative to the state-owned media in Cuba. He was forced to send his work abroad to be published, even though doing so carried the risk of criminal sanctions.

During Fidel Castro’s crackdown on dissidents in 2003, Rivero was sentenced to 20 years in prison for “conspiring with a foreign power” and “acting against Cuban independence”, as well as for writing “against the government”. He spent one year in solitary confinement before being released following international pressure. After his release Rivero relocated to Spain, where he lived in exile and continued to write.

In 2000, IPI named Rivero a World Press Freedom Hero. He was also awarded the UNESCO World Press Freedom Prize in 2004. He published several books of poetry in addition to his journalism.