MAY 21, 2005
Posted: June 10, 2005

Francesca Caferri, Repubblica

Caferri, an Italian journalist who traveled to Cuba on assignment for the Rome-based daily Reppublica to cover an unprecedented gathering of opposition activists, was detained in Havana by Cuban authorities and expelled.

The journalist had covered the second day of the two-day opposition meeting and was at her hotel room when two police agents knocked on her door, said she had violated Cuban immigration law by doing journalistic work, and arrested her, Caferri told Repubblica. Police officers took her to the Havana airport’s immigration offices and questioned her before putting her on an 11 p.m. flight bound for Madrid, Spain.

Caferri’s detention and expulsion came a day after one Italian and three Polish journalists, who were covering the opposition gathering, were detained by police and expelled from Cuba.

The two-day meeting—the first such event ever held by opposition activists—was organized by the Assembly to Promote Civil Society (APSC), an umbrella group of civil society and dissident groups. The assembly, in the planning for several years, was designed to bring together dissidents and to formulate plans to create a democratic society in Cuba. The meeting began on May 20, 2005, with 200 activists and guests in attendance at the house of dissident Félix Bonne Carcassés in Havana’s outskirts.

Under Cuban immigration regulations, foreign reporters who visit the island to work must apply for journalist visas, which are processed through Cuban embassies abroad. Cuban officials grant visas to foreign journalists selectively, CPJ research shows, and they routinely exclude those from media outlets deemed unfriendly, such as The Miami Herald. Cuban law further specifies that foreign journalists who travel to the country on a tourist visa “should abstain from practicing journalism.”