Prize-Winning Journalist Freed from Cuban Jails to Keynote NAHJ Banquet

Prize-Winning Journalist Freed from Cuban Jails to Keynote NAHJ Banquet

Gala Also to Honor Mexican-American Pioneer Journalist Ruben Salazar


Washington, DC–(HISPANIC PR WIRE – PRNewswire)–February 22, 2008–Cuban journalist Manuel Vazquez Portal, one of 23 journalists jailed in Cuba during a crackdown on press freedom five years ago and a recipient of major international prizes for journalism and literature, will deliver the keynote speech at the National Association of Hispanic Journalists’ 19th Annual Scholarship Banquet in New York City.

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In light of recent news in Cuba, Vazquez Portal will share his insight into the plight of nearly two dozen Cuban journalists still behind bars during this year’s annual gala to raise funds for its Ruben Salazar Scholarship Fund. The gala will be held March 13, 2008 at the Hilton New York in Manhattan.

The Cuban journalists arrested in the crackdown in March 2003 were sentenced to prison terms ranging from 14 to 27 years. Vazquez was released after staging two hunger strikes and spending more than a year in cells that often had nothing more than a ripped mattress, mosquitos and rats.

Nineteen of those jailed in the crackdown, plus three other journalists, remain in prison in Cuba, the world’s second largest jailer of journalists after China.

ABC’s John Quinones and CNN’s Soledad O’Brien will serve as the banquet chair and mistress of ceremonies, respectively.

NAHJ will also pay tribute to Ruben Salazar for being honored by the U.S. Postal Service with a commemorative stamp to go on sale in April. Salazar was covering a Chicano rally against the Vietnam War in 1970 when he was killed by a tear-gas projectile fired by a deputy sheriff.

A columnist for the Los Angeles Times and news director for the Spanish-language TV station KMEX, Salazar was the first Mexican-American journalist to have a major voice in the mainstream news media.

This year’s banquet will be held at the Hilton New York, 1335 Avenue of the Americas at 6:30 p.m. To date, the Banquet sponsors include Continental Airlines, CNN, State Farm Insurance, Con Edison, NY1 Noticias, CBS News, The New York Times, and Verizon Communications.

To purchase tickets or become a sponsor, contact Azuree Salazar, at 202-662-7482 or For more information, visit

Founded in 1984, NAHJ seeks to increase the percentage of Latinos in our nation’s newsrooms and improve news coverage of Hispanics.

Prize-Winning Journalist Freed from Cuban Jails to Keynote NAHJ Banquet