By Osmel Ramirez Alvarez
HAVANA TIMES – Last Sunday June 28th, my friend and Diario de Cuba colleague, independent journalist Jorge Enrique Rodriguez Camejo, was arrested. The reasons for his arrest remain unclear. The worst thing is that along with the report of his imprisonment, his family have also announced that he is “awaiting a trial that will take place on Tuesday July 7th,” his brother Leonel Rodriguez told Diario de Cuba.
According to the article, “his relatives are unaware” of the reason why Rodriguez Camejo was arrested, and his brother “hasn’t been able to get in touch with the reporter in order to find out details about his arrest.”
“There are many different versions” (of the arrest), Rodriguez explained. “One reason was that it was “contempt of court, another one was that he was supporting protests over the death of young Hansel Ernesto Hernandez at the hands of the National Revolutionary Police (PNR), the other one is that he was recording a video.” After doing a little digging, the only thing I could find was that the journalist has been transferred to a criminal prosecution center known as “El Vivac”, in Havana.
Jorge Enrique Rodriguez Camejo is a journalist for Diario de Cuba, a correspondent for ABC news, and he has also collaborated with other independent digital platforms. Last April, he was interrogated by State Security agents, whom he said had accused him of “spreading fake news” and he was told that “a file had been opened on him” because of this.
I can attest to his brilliant character, with a talent for writing and great human values. I have shared several trips with him to the capital, where he lives, and also to Spain. His commitment to a democratic Cuba, to social communication for truth and his humble roots, is something that you can see just by talking to him. I also had the opportunity to see him in his super “elegant” paternal relationship with his son and his deep friendship with his brother, who filed a complaint against his arrest.
The arrest of this journalist coincides (and I’m sure it’s no coincidence) with the call made a couple of days ago for a day of protests, on Tuesday, across the entire country against police brutality and racism, announced by activists and members of Cuba’s independent civil society. The initiative was born after civil outrage broke out over the death of the young black man Hansel Ernesto, at the hands of the police, a week ago, in shady circumstances.
As well as an independent journalist, Rodriguez Camejo is an activist for universal human rights in Cuba; and especially for freedom of speech and the elimination of racism in our society. On his Facebook page, you can find many posts about race.
Freedom of speech is an essential pillar of democracy, both for creating one and holding onto it. A political system that needs to curtail freedom of speech, imprison journalists and block posts, to hold onto its power… well, we don’t really need to say anything more: it’s already really screwed up, an abomination.
We all need to advocate for Jorge Enrique Rodriguez Camejo’s immediate release, and for the persecution and criminalization of independent journalism to stop in Cuba.