In the midst of a tsunami of police repression and months of continued psychological torture of the independent press in April there took office the new president, Miguel Díaz-Canel, after 60 years of the Castro family group, but nothing changed for press freedom nor in the framework of power.
Censorship appears to have increased. In a leaked video Díaz-Canel described as proposals with subversive contents illegal WiFi networks and El Paquete, a group of foreign digital products that is distributed through private vendors. "There have appeared apparently inoffensive websites, portals and magazines of low profile" that according to Díaz-Canel engage in "dissemination of stereotypes demonstrating cultural warfare." In the same video he said, "Let them raise the scandal that they want to raise, let them say we censor, everyone censors."
The Constitution that should be approved next February 24, maintains serious limitations on freedom of the press and expression. The proposed Article 60 establishes: "Press freedom is recognized for the citizens. This right is exercised in accordance with the law. The fundamental social communication media, in any of their formats, are the socialist property of all the people, which assures their use at the service of all society. The State establishes the principles of organization and functioning for all the social communication media."
This process of change of formal President and of "constituent analysis" has been implemented simultaneously with the repressive wave against civil society and the media, which has been worsening since the second half-year of 2016.
The Interior Ministry, a body coordinating and carrying out repression, has continued applying methods of psychological torture with which there are affected journalists and their families with aggressions, accusations and vigilance, without there being any place whatsoever to which to resort to denounce or defend oneself.
Among these methods there occur detentions that last from one hour to four or five days (as have suffered Iris Mariño, Roberto de Jesús Quiñones, Osmel Ramírez, Martha Liset Sánchez, Alberto Corzo, Alberto Castaño, Rudy Cabrera, Augusto César San Martín, José Antonio Fornaris, Boris González, Mario Echevarría, Roberto Rodríguez Cardona, Luis Cino, Emiliano González, Manuel León, Alexander Rodríguez, Alejandro Hernández, Osniel Carmona, Yuri Valle, Anderlay Guerra, Carlos Alberto Torres, Niorbis García, Yordis García, Daniel González, Deris Solís, Eider Frómeta, Adrián Quesada, Vladimir Turró, Eradilys Frómeta). Inventon of accusations and of proofs regarding fraudulent judicial convictions (Rosalia Viñas, Inalkis Rodríguez, Alberto Castano, Manual León, Alexander Rodríguez, Niorbis García, Yuri Valle, Eide Frómeta), and phyisical attacks (Alejandro Hernández, Alberto Corzo, Eider Frómeta).
Also common is the use of summonses for questionings and intimidation in offices of the Interior Ministry (Inalkis Rodríguez, Rosalia Viñas, Idilsa Bailly, Oscar Padilla, Dagoberto Valdés, Yoandy Izquierdo, Rafael Gordo, José Antonio Fornaris, Mario Echavarría, Yaudel Estenoz, Yuri Valle); Harassment of families and close friends of the journalists (María Ferreiro and Héctor Constantin – father and mother of Henry Constantin, Aurora Albistur – mother of Augusto César San Martín, Mario Junquera – husband of Iris Mariño-, Idilsa Bailli – wife of Niorbe García, Adolfo Antonio Fornaris – sone José Antonio Fornaris, María Pérez – mother-in-law of Osniel Carmona, the wives of Julio Aleaga and Emiliano González, Yudania Moné –daughter of Gladys Linares); vigilance on the home (Iris Mariño, Inalkis Rodríguez, Henry Constantin); vigilance and attack upon telephone and online communications (Dagoberto Valdés, José Antonio Fornaris, Iris Mariño, Inalkis Rodríguez, Henry Constantin).
There increased in the last six months the frequency and aggressiveness of the following and verbal or physical harassment of journalists on the streets (Iris Mariño, Carlos Alberto Torres, Alejandro Hernández, Henry Constantin, Eider Frómeta); and searches in their homes (José Antonio Fornaris, Alberto Corzo, Alberto Castaño, Roberto de Jesús Quiñones, Emiliano González, Niorbe García, Idilsa Bailly, Daniel González, Julio Aleaga). Also there increased pressures upon renters to evict journalists from their rented apartments (Adriana Zamora, Odalina Carmona, Sol García, Ernesto Carralero). In addition, State Security has carried out defamatory campaigns against journalists in the places where they live or on the Internet (Iris Mariño, Osniel Carmona).
There continues as common practice the confiscation of work and personal equipment, almost always without having the due legal documentation (José Antonio Fornaris, Carlos Alberto Torres, Roberto de Jesús Quiñones, Emiliano González, Alberto Corzo, Alberto Castaño, Alejandro Hernández, Osniel Carmona, Niorbe García, Daniel González, Mario Echevarría, Eider Frómeta, Rudy Cabrera, Augusto César San Martín). The ban on leaving home, the city, the province or the country (Inalkis Rodríguez, Iris Mariño, Karina Gálvez, Rosalia Viñas, Amarilis Cortina, Odalina Guerrero, Sol García, Miriam Herrera, Ana León, Ileana Álvarez, Yaudel Estenoz, Roberto de Jesús Quiñones, Osniel Carmona, Rafael Gordo, Yuri Valle, Augusto César San Martín, Julio Aleaga, Emiliano González, Henry Constantin). Also, there were recorded numerous cases of harassment through exhaustive inspections during times at airports (María Ferreiro, Augusto César San Martín, Rafael Gordo); or making residence in the country difficult for foreign journalists (Fernando Ravsberg).
There continues the case of the only female journalist carrying out a sentence and humiliating forced work as punishment (Karina Gálvez, member of the editorial board of the magazine Convivencia). In addition the political organization Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU) denounced the imprisonment, after three rigged trials, of several of its activists, merely for filming videos expressing their political sympathies. Common was the arrest and harassment of independent artists who protest against Decree 349, a legal instrument recently put in force that punishes artists who work in the private economy without state authorization.
These aggressions occur with total subordination to the MNINT, the Ministry of Justice and the National Attorney General's Office which, while tending to receive journalists' denunciations never respond or investigate. To suppress the government also uses local, municipal and provincial branches of the Popular Power and the Communist Party, and in those cases where it may be necessary the Cuba Telecommunications Company, the Defense of the Revolution Committees, the Ministries of Higher Education and Culture, the General Customs of the Republic, the National Electoral Commission and the National Housing and Physical Planning Institute.
While it is men that are more often and for longer arrested it is women to whom the MNINT apply the longest punishments, especially on those with children: Karina Gálvez, economic analyst and member of the editorial board of the magazine Convivencia, is carrying out a three-year sentence for a fabricated crime, which obliges her to not leave town and to do a humiliating job so as not to go to jail; Inalkis Rodríguez, journalist and general assistant of the magazine La Hora de Cuba, and Rosalia Viñas, designer and member of the editorial board of the magazine Convivencia, have orders restricting travel for rigged investigations carried out against them by State Security. Rodríguez is prohibited from leaving the city where she lives. Viñas receives frequent calls to be interrogated.
There continues among the most serious cases that of Iris Mariño, female photographer and reporter of La Hora de Cuba. She suffered acts of psychological torture and continuous sexual harassment in the form of followings, filmings, touchings and even a kiss on the public highway by Social Security agents. She reported having suffered vandalizing acts at the front of her home. She has "provisionally filed" a charge made by the State Security for "usurpation of legal capacity." She was held under arrest for three hours when she attempted to take out her camera during an official parade on May 1. During that arrest she was successively questioned and harassed with phrases of sexual content by four State Security agents in a police office. Shortly afterwards she was prohibited from leaving the country.
Some 20 news media websites focusing on the country and international press organizations, such as the IAPA, and human rights ones, continue to be blocked. Some of them have been unblocked for a short time, as occurred during the recent visit to the island of Google senor officers.
In addition, ETECSA, the state telecommunications monopoly, has made screenings, of poor quality but free, of the Internet on mobile phones and has announced that "soon" the Cubans will have access to that service, although it is speculated that the price will be as high as the one offered for Internet in homes: the minimal monthly service for 30 hours of navigation costs half of the average monthly salary. The prices and low geographical dissemination of Internet access impedes the use of the network to be informed or to share information.
The Facebook page of the Coexistence Thought Center that is headed by Dagoberto Valdés and which only publishes links of texts taken from that independent body's website was closed by Facebook in August based on complaints received from certain users. Previously, in May, during a questioning of a member of Convivencia, an agent of the MININT showed official discomfort with the publications that were being made by the members of the team on social media.
Young people who wish to study journalism at the universities continue to be subjected to tests "of aptitude" that measure the aspirants' political opinions, and they are approved only when they are seen to be pro-government. In addition, in that evaluation of "aptitude" special force is given to the criteria of the rector and of the dean – militants of the Communist Party – of the faculties where the student intends to study.
The rules that govern the conduct of students at all levels of education severely punish the release in any form of ideas or information that displeases the government.