Report to the 75th General Assembly of the IAPA

October 4 – 7, 2019

Coral Gables, Florida


Jail returns to being a reality for the independent press. This is the only "reform" that the government has brought about in these six months for the press, with the imprisonment on September 11 of Roberto de Jesús Quiñones Haces, of the website Cubanet, sentenced to one year in prison for offenses of "disobedience and contempt of court," after he attempted to cover a trial of some religious pastors and was arrested violently.

In this period there has been registered a growing connectivity to the Internet, propelled by the state monopoly ETECSA, of poor quality and at very high prices.

In the first week of May the chairman of the Popular Supreme Tribunal threatened on social media to apply the "Gag Law," officially Law 88, "of Protection of the National Independence and Economy of Cuba," which sets several years of imprisonment for those who collaborate "by any way with radio or television broadcasters, newspapers, magazines or other foreign dissemination media."

On May 11 an LGBT march called by independent activists following the cancellation of the traditional official march, ended in repression and arrests, among these those of reporters Ileana Hernández of Cibercuba and Boris González Arenas of Diario de Cuba.

On July 4 there was published Decree 360 of 2019 "On the Security of Information and the Communication and Defense of National Cyberspace," which prohibits citizens from managing websites based abroad, which represents an increase in the repression of independent media. The government does not allow that there be based in national domains those pages or media that question the regime.

In July arrested was reporter Ricardo Fernández Izaguirre on his leaving the premises of the Women in White group. He spent nine days in detention, with lack of communication outside and removal from Havana to his province of residence. He then was arrested twice and threatened with being sent back to prison. Several of the people he interviewed for a video report published in La Hora de Cuba were interrogated by State Security agents in an attempt to present against him a denunciation for "usurping legal capacity."

On August 17 there was conducted a mega-operative against the heads of three independent media in Havana. Yoani Sánchez of 14ymedio, José Jasán Nieves of El Toque and Abraham Jiménez Enoa of El Estomudo, who were prohibited from leaving their homes.

That day there had been called a protest by users of SNET, an autonomous digital network outlawed by the authorities, which also led to restrictions of circulation or vigilance of other colleagues.

To the home of journalist Henry Constantín, who was out of the country, there went an individual with visible police protection, armed with a machete, declaring that he was going to kill the journalist. The event occurred after the publication of a text that questioned the work of the Interior Ministry to discover the sexual abuser of a number of minors.

There remains in effect the juridical framework that establishes rules on repression, such as the new Constitution, the Penal Code with its punishments for criticism of public officials and penalization of clandestine printed matter.

A new law on deans and heads of universities discriminates on who may take master's or doctorate courses, according to political performance.

Decree 370 makes illegal the even up to now tolerated privately-owned networks on WiFi, obliging them to come under the control of a state entity.

There is noted an increase in governmental pressure on the state employees to whom access to the Internet has been facilitated. According to reports by people threatened for their expression on social media they are obliged to post content that is favorable to the government.

Journalists Iliana Hernández Cardosa, Yunia Figueredo, Yoe Súarez, Alejandro Hernández Cepero, Daniel González Oliva, Roberto de Jesús Quiñones Haces, Pablo Morales Merchán, Jesús Jank Curbelo, a photographer that accompanied him, and Henry Constantín have suffered arrests, interrogations and threats. Luz Escobar, Lien Estrada, Sol García Basulto, Katherine Bisquet, Luis Cino, José Jasán Nieves, Ricardo Fernández Izaguirre and Isel Arango were called in for questioning. Alejandro Hernández Cepero, Ricardo Fernández Izaguirre and Henry Constantín have been threatened with being put on trial.

Yoe Suárez and Alejandro Hernández Cepero were stripped of their work equipment. Ricardo Fernández Izaguirre had his telephone temporarily withheld. Saimi Reyes, Ernesto Guerra, Eillen Sosin and Ailyn Martín were forced to leave their workplaces and Katharine Bisquet was expelled from her rented apartment.

Family members of Augusto César San Martín (his wife), José Gallego (his mother), Inalkis Roríguez Loa (his father). Mario Ramírez Sánchez and Henry Constantín have been harassed through visits by agents, ban on traveling abroad, citations and interrogations.

Photographer Iris Mariño was chased on the street by State Security agents and her house was put under vigilance during the visit of Díaz-Canel to Camagüey. The front of the house of Henry Constantín and Inalkis Rodríguez was vandalized in the early morning of July 26.

The authorities have used different recourses of digital aggression, such as bullying, threats, identity theft and attempts at hacking, against Yoani Sánchez, Iris Mariño, Lien Estrada, Rafael Almanza, Vladimir Turro and Henry Constantín. Yoani Sánchez has also received harassment on the telephone.

Roberto de Jesús Quiñones Haces was prohibited from leaving his hometown and Yoe Súarez and Ricardo Fernández Izaguierre have been "deported" from the places where they were working and sent to their homes. Sandra Haces, Henry Constantín, Yuner Gutiérrez and Ariel Maceo were prohibited having access to areas where news events take place.

News sources and some readers of Ricardo Suárez and Henry Constantín have suffered exhaustive inspections of their equipment at airports.

Inalkis Rodríguez Lora, Yoe Súarez and Henry Constantín have suffered exhaustive inspections of their equipment at airports.

Jesús Jank Curbelo and Henry Constantín have received warnings.

The regime has prohibited from leaving the country Adrián del Sol, Iris Mariño, Sol García Basulto, Inalkis Rodríguez Lora, Isel Arango, Roberto de Jesús Quiñones Haces, Manuel Alejandro León, Osmel Ramírez, la diseñadora Rosalia Viñas, the webmaster Javier Valdés, Henry Constantín, Julio César Álvarez, Saimi Reyes, Ernesto Guerra, Eileen Sosin, Ailyn Martin, Marta Liset Sánchez and José Antonio Fornaris.

In addition, forbidden to enter the country was American journalist Michael Lavers, and Claudia Ordoñez of the Article 19 organization was forced to leave the country.

Websites 14ymedio, Cubanet, Diario de Cuba, Martinoticias, El Estornudo, El Toque, ADN Cuba and Cuba te Cuenta have been blocked. The websites of the IAPA, Gabo Foundation, Amnesty International, and more than 20 others continue to be blocked.

Facebook is the most widespread and most difficult to control by the authorities, however some independent news media continue to encounter obstacles when enters through the pages of companies that are located in the country.