CUBA


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How CPJ investigates and classifies attacks on the press




FEBRUARY 15, 2005
Posted: March 7, 2005

Iván García Quintero, freelance
HARASSED, THREATENED

State security officials summoned García to a Havana police station, where they threatened to imprison him for his journalism.

García told CPJ that a state security officer served him notice on February 14, ordering him to appear the following day for a 4 p.m. interview with a state security agent identified as "Moisés." The notice said that failure to attend would be grounds for unspecified criminal charges.

During the two-hour interview, García said, the agent gave him a two-month deadline to stop writing. He told García that if he continued to work as an independent journalist, he could be prosecuted under Law 88 for the Protection of Cuba's National Independence and Economy and could spend many years in jail. Law 88 imposes lengthy prison sentences for committing acts "aimed at subverting the internal order of the nation and destroying its political, economic, and social system."

García writes for the Madrid, Spain-based online daily Encuentro en la Red, which is run by an association of Cuban exiles, and for the Inter American Press Association (IAPA) Web site. García said the agent told him that his stories "were giving the Revolution a bad image" and that the Web sites were financed by the U.S. government.

The agent suggested that Cuban authorities might deny him an exit permit to visit his mother, the former independent journalist Tania Quintero, in Switzerland. Instead, "Moisés" encouraged García to leave the country permanently and settle abroad, the journalist told CPJ.

García told CPJ he has no plans to leave Cuba and intends to continue working as an independent journalist.


MAY 20, 2005
Posted: May 25, 2005

Francesco Battistini, Corriere della Sera
Seweryn Blumsztajn, Gazeta Wyborcza
Jerzy Jurecki, Tygodnik Podhalanski
Wojciech Rogacin, Newsweek
HARASSED, EXPELLED

Cuban authorities detained and expelled these foreign journalists who traveled to Cuba to cover an unprecedented gathering of opposition activists and international observers.

Italian journalist Francesco Battistini, on assignment for the Milan-based daily Corriere della Sera, was detained and later expelled. Upon his return to Milan on May 21, Battistini said Cuban police told him he was arrested for making “illegal contacts” and for violating immigration law, Corriere della Sera reported. Battistini also said that police took his passport and plane ticket, and did not allow him to call the Italian embassy, his family, or his paper.

Polish journalist Jerzy Jurecki, an editor with the regional weekly Tygodnik Podhalanski, was detained at his hotel in Havana and taken to an immigration detention center near Havana’s airport, according to international news reports. Polish journalist Seweryn Blumsztajn, who works for the national daily Gazeta Wyborcza, was detained with Jurecki, press reports said. A third journalist, Wojciech Rogacin of the Polish edition of Newsweek magazine, was also taken into police custody.

Cuba’s ambassador to Poland said the journalists had traveled to Cuba on tourist visas and were violating Cuban law, The Associated Press reported.

All three Polish journalists returned to Warsaw, Poland's capital, on May 21. On his arrival, Rogacin was quoted by the Polish news agency PAP as saying that their detention and deportation showed that the Cuban government was “afraid to reveal the truth.”

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 today with 200 activists and guests in attendance at the house of dissident Félix Bonne Carcassés in Havana’s outskirts. Organizers have complained that dissidents from other provinces were harassed and forbidden to travel to Havana.

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.”


MAY 21, 2005
Posted: June 10, 2005

Francesca Caferri, Repubblica
HARASSED, EXPELLED

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."


JULY 22, 2005

Posted: July 28, 2005

Oscar Mario González, Grupo de Trabajo Decoro
IMPRISONED

González, a journalist with the independent news agency Grupo de Trabajo Decoro, was arrested around 9 a.m., about a block from his house, as he was going to buy bread, according to colleague Ana Leonor Díaz.

Díaz, director of Grupo de Trabajo Decoro, told CPJ that González was being held at a police station in the Miramar neighborhood of Havana.

Authorities did not immediately say why González was detained or file any charges against him publicly. Díaz said González might have been detained in connection with a police crackdown that began July 22, when opposition activists planned to hold an antigovernment protest outside the French Embassy in Havana.

Several leaders of the protest group, the Assembly to Promote Civil Society in Cuba (APSC), were detained before they could join other protesters, according to international news reports and dissident groups. In all, at least 29 people were detained; most were released without charge.

In May, González covered the APSC congress for Grupo de Trabajo Decoro. The unprecedented two-day congress brought together 200 activists and guests to discuss ways to create a democratic society in Cuba. At the time, Cuban authorities detained and expelled at least five foreign journalists who had traveled to Cuba to cover the meeting.

Cuban prosecutors often fail to inform detained opposition activists about the charges they face and deny them the opportunity to review the evidence of their alleged crimes. Under the Code of Penal Procedure, detainees may be held for up to a week without a court reviewing the legality of their detention.


AUGUST 8, 2005
Posted: August 17, 2005

Lucas Garve, freelance

HARASSED

Garve, a freelance journalist, was harassed twice by government supporters outside his home in the Havana neighborhood of Mantilla.

Garve was sleeping around 10:30 p.m. when government supporters woke him up and warned him not to leave his apartment the next day, according to Ana Leonor Díaz, the director of the independent news agency Decoro. The crowd was made up of dozens of government supporters and was led by a local government official, Díaz said. They stayed outside Garve's home until 4:30 p.m. the following day.

On August 11, around 8:30 a.m., a smaller group again congregated outside Garve's home and warned him that an opposition meeting would be held and he couldn't leave home. They told him: "We know you are an opposition member and you're going out, we won't allow you to do so," Díaz said.

In addition to writing reports for the Miami-based news Web site CubaNet, Garve is the director of the Fundación por la Libertad de Expresión, a small group of journalists that organizes activities to promote freedom of expression in Cuba.

In July and August, the Cuban government organized several so-called "repudiation acts," during which government supporters congregated outside the homes of opposition members and independent journalists, blocking access, and preventing them from leaving their homes and receiving visitors.


AUGUST 6, 2005
Posted: August 26, 2005

Albert Santiago Du Bouchet Hernández
IMPRISONED

Du Bouchet Hernández was arrested on August 6, tried three days later, and handed a one-year jail term without the knowledge of his family who found out about his detention only after he smuggled a note out of prison. He was the second independent journalist jailed after covering an unprecedented opposition meeting in May 2005.

He is director of the independent news agency Havana Press, which sends reports to the Miami-based Web site Nueva Prensa Cubana.

Du Bouchet Hernández was detained on a reporting trip on August 6 in Artemisa, 38 miles (60 kilometers) from Havana, according to his wife Bárbara Pérez Araya. He was charged with "disrespecting" the local chief of police and resisting arrest. He was brought before a court in Artemisa, sentenced to one year, and sent to the Melena del Sur prison, in Habana Province. Pérez Araya told CPJ the authorities did not notify the family of his detention. Her husband managed to get word to her on August 14. She visited him in jail on August 24 for two hours. Her husband said he did not have access to a lawyer before or during the trial, that the charges were fabricated, and that his trial was "a sham."

Like independent journalist Oscar Mario González, held without trial since July 22, 2005, Du Bouchet Hernández covered the congress of the Assembly to Promote Civil Society (APSC) in May 2005. The two-day gathering, unprecedented in Cuba, brought together 200 opposition activists and guests to discuss ways of creating democracy in Cuba.

Pérez Araya said State Security agents warned Du Bouchet Hernández in May and July to stop work or face imprisonment. They ordered him to appear at a police station on the opening day of the APSC meeting but he ignored the summons and covered the conference. He was fined for his action. Neither Pérez Araya nor her husband has received a copy of the court ruling. She said here husband has not been able to sleep well in jail. She took him sedatives and other medication but he was only allowed to receive headache pills. He joined 24 independent Cuban journalists jailed for their work.