Cuba Must Respect Journalists’ Right to Report

By Vicente Morin Aguado

Journalist Henry Constantin was arrested in the city of Camagüey

HAVANA TIMES – The right of journalists in Cuba, both foreign and domestic, to exercise their professional responsibilities is being flagrantly and savagely violated by the Cuban Communist Party / State Security.  

The large and spontaneous peaceful anti-government protests in Cuba on July 11th shocked the world as well as most Cubans on the island. The most significant cry was the one phrase chanted by thousands of Cubans in the streets of dozens of cities and towns throughout the island: “We are not afraid!”

A brief and as yet incomplete list of journalists repressed while reporting started with the beating of Associated Press photo-reporter Ramon Espinosa, from Spain, whose face was bleeding profusely when another camera snapped a photo at the very moment of his being attacked by police.

Cuban Independent journalists are cordoned-off at their homes and cannot even go out to the streets. When they attempt to go out they are usually abucted. Camila Acosta, the brave ABC daily’s reporter, is missing, while Henry Constantin was arrested in the city of Camagüey on Sunday afternoon. His mother reported that Henry’s house was ransacked and he is being kept prisoner without being formally charged. Camila Acosta’s father has also denounced similar procedures against his daughter.

These are just a couple noteworthy cases in an illegal and shameful protocol designed against freedom of the press.

In the absence of independent reporters who are under siege, a multitude of amateur reporters have come to the rescue. It is through them that the world was kept informed about the nature and magnitude of this authentic rebellion against Fidel Castro’s socialist system. Many of these daring reporters were attacked for graphically documenting police violence.

Aware of the way in which the Internet is challenging censorship, the government has gone as far as blocking all basic social media networks, according to NetBlocks, a specialized platform. They informed about the regime’s interruption of WhatsApp, Facebook, Instagram and Telegram starting Sunday.

People in Cuba have no access to viewing most of the international news outlets.

A still undetermined number of Cubans arrested oscillates between 150 and 200 individuals, according to Amnesty International. The numbers are expected to increase gradually. Proof of this is provided by the lines in front of police stations in Havana, as relatives await news about their loved ones, demanding information that verifies that they are alive.

We can anticipate more repression and more censorship, if we judge from the most recent battle cry delivered by President Miguel Diaz-Canel, to all forces under his rule.

If Cubans have lost their fear of being repressed, the world should support them by demanding that the government heed the peoples’ demand for freedom.

It is unacceptable that the dictatorship hide the truth about a potential massacre of people who are claiming their right to the public space denied them during 60 years, an inalienable right in most other Western cultures.

Read more from Cuba here on Havana Times.