News and Facts about Cuba

IS CUBA HEADING TOWARDS A REPEAT OF THE 2003 BLACK SPRING?

IS CUBA HEADING TOWARDS A REPEAT OF THE 2003 BLACK SPRING?
PUBLISHED ON MONDAY 16 JUNE 2014.

Reporters Without Borders is worried about the situation of journalists
in Cuba, where there have been cases of physical attacks, arbitrary
detention, death threats and blocking of access to information in recent
days.

Hablemos Press, an independent news agency and free speech NGO, has been
directly targeted by the Internal Security Department. physically
attacked its editor, Roberto de Jesús Guerra, in Havana on 11 June.
According to his wife, Hablemos Press reporter Magaly Otero Suarez, he
is currently immobilized at home with multiple injuries to the face and
right foot.

A car ran down Raúl Ramirez Puig, a Hablemos Press correspondent in
Mayabeque province, on 7 June. One of the two people in the car told
him: “Anything can happen.”

Mario Hechavarría Driggs, who also works for Hablemos Press, was the
latest victim of arbitrary arrest when Internal Security Department
officials him on 8 June. Journalism student Yeander Farrés
Delgado was also arrested while photographing the capitol building in
Havana (now the headquarters of the science, technology and environment
ministry) and was held for five hours.

“Although the Castro regime gives the appearance of opening up
politically, the methods used by the authorities to silence
journalists are clearly becoming more and more brutal,” Reporters
Without Borders secretary-general Christophe Deloire said. “The last of
the journalists arrested in the Black Spring of 2003 was freed in 2011,
but since then we have seen a gradual increase in repression.”

Hablemos Press reported on 11 June that it has received repeated
telephone threats in the past two months. After taking several
threatening calls on the Hablemos Press phone line, Otero was summoned
by the Internal Security Department on 12 June, and told to moderate the
tone of the agency’s articles, which have irritated the government.

The authorities have also gone so far as to disconnect the mobile phones
of De Jesus Guerra, Otero and Arian Guerra, another Hablemos Press
, from Cuba’s sole mobile phone network, provided by
state-owned , to hamper their communications.

“What happens to the right to information if the government blocks phone
connections at will and use is extremely limited in Cuba?” said
Camille Soulier, the head of the Reporters Without Borders Americas
desk. “We call on the Cuban authorities to restore the phone connections
of Hablemos Press’ journalists without delay.”

Reporters Without Borders also condemns the conditions in which the
authorities have been holding the Juliet
Michelena Díaz in Havana since 7 April without any court decision in her
case. She was initially accused of threatening a neighbour, but the
charge was changed to “terrorism” within a week of her arrest.

Yayabo Press journalist Yoenni de Jesus Guerra García has meanwhile been
held since October 2013 and was given a seven-year jail term in March.
And the Ángel Santiesteban-Prats, one of the 100 “information
heroes” profiled by RWB in May, has been held on trumped-up charges
since February 2013.

Cuba is ranked 170th out of 180 countries in the 2014 Reporters Without
Borders press index. This is the lowest ranking of any country
in the western hemisphere.

Source: Is Cuba heading towards a repeat of the 2003 Black Spring? –
Reporters Without Borders –
http://en.rsf.org/cuba-is-cuba-heading-towards-a-repeat-16-06-2014,46452.html

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