The Cuban press suffers from “constant repression”, the “control of telecommunications” and is experiencing “the largest exodus in history”, according to a report approved this Sunday during the 78th General Assembly of the Inter-American Press Association (IAPA).
The document denounces that the island’s journalists are the object of constant “harassment” and “threats” by a “repressive scaffolding against press freedom” of the Miguel Díaz Canel regime.
In many cases, this translates into police citations and, in the worst case scenario, imprisonment, according to IAPA.
The organization recalls that the Cuban journalist and activist Lázaro Yuri Valle Roca -detained since June 2021- was sentenced to 5 years in prison for the crimes of “ongoing enemy propaganda and resistance” and is being held despite his “serious health status,” according to the association.
These sanctions will be reinforced, according to the organization, in the new Penal Code -approved last May- which will enter into force on December 1.
It “persecutes all aspects of journalistic work, punishes the author of any criticism of state officials with prison and guarantees impunity to the authorities.”
One of the penalties contemplated by the Code is 10 years in prison for the “reception, use and possession of funds from abroad”, which would limit the financing of the media outside the state bubble to the maximum.
On the other hand, reporters who are not detained are subject to “police summons, a fence around their home, and internet shutdown,” adds the IAPA.
House arrest without a court order “can last from a few hours to several weeks.” The Castro regime, likewise, pressures homeowners to evict their tenants when it comes to critical journalists, such as the photographer María Lucía Expósito.
Another form of repression, highlights the report, are the fines imposed on communicators. Ismario Rodríguez was fined 4,000 pesos (166.6 dollars) for “illicit economic activity, justification for punishing those who do journalism without permission.”
This is a case similar to that of the journalist Camila Acosta -with a sanction of 1,000 pesos- for “public disorder”, “accused of trying to cover the protests of July 11, 2021”.
The report also includes the role of the state-owned Empresa de Telecomunicaciones de Cuba, S.A. (Etecsa). The internet network “is spied on and censored” and, on many occasions, blocked during events such as the 11J anti-government protests.
In addition, the IAPA emphasizes that the “state monopoly (…) keeps dozens of websites of independent media and different NGOs related to human rights blocked.”
According to the IAPA, “about 20 reporters, photographers and illustrators resigned from working in the independent press after six of them were prohibited from traveling to an event.” The text alludes to the case of the medium El Toque.
In addition to the journalists of the Cuban independent press, the report reviews situations such as the dismissal of “Armando Franco, director of the official magazine Alma Mater, for publishing information on detainees” on 11J.
Similarly, “accredited members in Cuba” of international agencies denounced limitations to their work.”