Alberto Corzo, the executive director for the Cuban Institute for Freedom of Expression and of the Press, was on his way to a reporting assignment when he was beaten by two men, resulting in a broken clavicle. (Photo Courtesy: ICLEP)

Cuban independent journalist Alberto Corzo assaulted after encounter with state security agents

Miami, April 8, 2022 – Cuban authorities should thoroughly investigate the recent attack on journalist Alberto Corzo and swiftly bring those responsible to justice, the Committee to Protect Journalists said Friday.

On April 1, at approximately 10 a.m., two agents from the Department of State Security, commonly referred to as the political police, stopped Corzo in the street in the Colón municipality in the western Matanzas province, and demanded to know where he was headed and what he was doing, Corzo said in a video statement published by the Cuban Institute for Freedom of Expression and of the Press (ICLEP), a press freedom organization which also publishes and distributes seven community newspapers in Cuba. Corzo is ICLEP’s executive director and was on his way to a reporting assignment, according to Normando Hernández, ICLEP’s general manager, who spoke to CPJ via messaging app.

Corzo refused to answer the agents’ questions and got into a taxi and drove away, when he noticed that two men on motorcycles were following him. As soon as Corzo got out of the car, the two unidentified men dressed as civilians approached Corzo, repeatedly punched and kicked him, and left him lying on the ground, according to an ICLEP report and news reports. The men did not exchange any words with Corzo, nor take any of his possessions, according to the same sources.

“We are appalled by the brutal assault on Cuban journalist Alberto Corzo, which suspiciously occurred just minutes after he refused to provide information to the political police on his way to a reporting assignment,” said Ana Cristina Núñez, CPJ’s Latin America and the Caribbean senior researcher. “Cuban authorities must conduct a transparent and independent investigation into the attack and bring those responsible to justice.”

A driver who was passing by the area saw Corzo lying injured on the street and took him to the Mario Muñoz Monroy Hospital, where staff were not able to do the necessary examinations due to lack of medical materials, Corzo said in the video statement.  

Corzo’s brother transferred the journalist to the Faustino Hospital, where he was diagnosed with a dislocated clavicle and hospitalized to treat his injuries, Corzo said. Corzo was released from the hospital on April 5.

Upon being released, Corzo went to the local police office to file a complaint, but the agent in charge said he could only take a statement, Corzo said in the video. “I accuse the regime, the dictatorship, and the political police of being responsible for the this attack I suffered,” the journalist said.

Cuban authorities have repeatedly targeted ICLEP journalists and outlets with various forms of harassment in retaliation for their independent reporting, including raids, detentions, and other forms of coercion. Corzo has been previously targeted with several intimidation tactics by Cuban authorities, including being arrested and interrogated, as documented by CPJ.

On December 7, 2021, at about 8:30 p.m., two unidentified men with their faces covered broke into the home of Mabel Páez, the director of the community newspaper El Majadero de Artemisa, one of seven ICLEP publications, and attacked her, as documented by CPJ at the time. The identity of the attackers remains unknown and ICLEP is unaware of any action conducted by authorities to investigate this incident, Hernández told CPJ.

“This is the modus operandi that the political police in Cuba are used to, to intimidate those who work for press freedom,” Hernández told CPJ, referring to the Corzo and Páez cases.

CPJ emailed the National Revolutionary Police and the Ministry of the Interior for comment but did not receive a response.