Repression is the “epidemic that most affects” Cuba, says press society report

Avenida de Havana, capital de Cuba: Sociedade Interamericana de Imprensa denunciou encarceramento em massa de jornalistas na ilha e alertou para escalada autoritária com novo Código Penal

Avenue in Havana, capital of Cuba: Inter-American Press Association denounced the mass incarceration of journalists on the island and warned of authoritarian escalation with a new Penal Code| Photo: EFE/Ernesto Mastrascusa

Repression is “the epidemic that most affects” Cuba and in the last semester it has increased, with the “severe penalties” imposed on the protesters of the anti-government protests in July of last year, as warned this Tuesday (19) the Inter-American Press Association (IAPA).

In a provisional bulletin, the organization, which is based in Miami, United States, considers that freedom of expression on the Caribbean island is “fragile” and is part of a “breathless” society and a “hostile” environment.

In recent months, as the IAPA points out, “most” journalists outside the official press vehicles “suffered varying degrees of police threats and harassment”, in addition to “interrogations and judicial threats”.

Professionals, according to the organization, were pressured not to disclose information about the protests called for of November last year, which were not authorized by the Cuban government.

In the report, which will be put to the vote at the IAPA General Assembly, which begins this Tuesday, several cases of independent press professionals who were detained are cited, two of which are still in prison, Lázaro Yuri Valle Roca and Jorge Bello Domínguez.

In addition, the document mentions the examples of Esteban Rodríguez, who was released in January after more than eight months in detention, without right to trial.

The press professional, as well as the journalist Karla Pérez, ended up having to leave Cuba because of his work.

On the other hand, at least independent journalists “are prohibited from to leave the country”, as is the case of Luz Escobar, from the 4yMedio website, rigid by award-winning journalist Yoani Sánchez.

According to the bulletin, the freedom to expression was exercised only due to the “growing number of citizens who connect to the internet, consume and disseminate alternative information to the official one”.

However, the text indicates that Cuba’s state-owned communications company, ETECSA, is committed to censoring websites and NGOs that criticize the government.

In addition, digital surveillance is carried out and “selective cuts of communications to journalists and activists” are carried out.

Since the protests in July last year, the IAPA has verified at least , 39 arrests of press professionals, in addition to house arrests of 04, as well as “threats and psychological assaults during citations and arbitrary detentions” from others .

New Penal Code2022 )

The report also warns of the new Penal Code, which will be approved this month, according to the Cuban government. According to the IAPA, the project “exaggerates the protection of government officials, to the detriment of citizens” and “aggravates repression”.

The document focuses mainly on the article 372 of the new code, which applies what it classifies as “high penalties”, from four to ten years in prison, for those who engage in sending, transmitting or receiving resources directed to organizations not recognized by the State, including independent media and NGOs.

In addition, the IAPA highlights that whoever “incites against the social order, international solidarity or the socialist State, through oral or written propaganda” may be punished with up to four years in prison.

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