Miami, December 10, 2021 – Cuban authorities should thoroughly investigate the recent attack on journalist Mabel Páez and swiftly bring those responsible to justice, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.
On December 7, at about 8:30 p.m., two unidentified men with their faces covered broke into Páez’s home in the western province of Artemisa and attacked her, according to news reports and Normando Hernández, general manager of the Cuban Institute for Freedom of Expression and the Press (ICLEP), who spoke to CPJ via messaging app.
Páez is the director of the community newspaper El Majadero de Artemisa, one of seven free publications printed and distributed throughout Cuba by ICLEP, according to its website.
The men punched and kicked Páez repeatedly and left her bleeding on the floor, according to a report by ICLEP, which said that she received bruises, swelling, and scratches on her left eyebrow, mouth, nose, arms, right hand, and torso.
The men did not take anything from her home, and before leaving on a motorcycle one of them told Páez, “this is the first warning,” according to that report.
“We are extremely concerned by the brutal assault on journalist Mabel Páez, and the suspicious circumstances surrounding it,” said CPJ Latin America and the Caribbean Senior Researcher Ana Cristina Núñez. “It is imperative that Cuban authorities thoroughly and transparently investigate this violent attack and bring those responsible to justice.”
The journalist went to a local hospital after the incident; there, a police officer entered her examination room and confiscated a medical report detailing Páez’s injuries from the doctor treating her, according to that ICLEP report.
Páez asked to review that report, as she feared she had broken ribs, but the officer handed it to an unidentified man in civilian clothes who told Páez to “go home and rest,” adding that “it will be better for everyone,” according to that report.
On December 1, El Majadero de Artemisa published a report on the death of a teenager while in military training, after he had been conscripted into military service against his will.
On December 5, two police officers and two state security agents raided Páez’s home, which houses the offices of El Majadero de Artemisa, supposedly in search of ICLEP Executive Director Alberto Corzo, who is under investigation for alleged public disorder, and then barred Páez from exiting her home, leaving her under police surveillance for the rest of the day, according to a tweet by ICLEP.
“There is no doubt that this is all an operation by the political police to scare Mabel and make her stop doing journalism,” Hernández told CPJ.
Cuban authorities have repeatedly targeted ICLEP journalists and outlets with various forms of harassment in retaliation for their independent reporting, including raids, detentions, threats, and other forms of coercion, as CPJ has documented.
CPJ emailed the National Revolutionary Police and the Ministry of the Interior for comment, but did not receive any responses.