The atmosphere for exercising freedom of the press and of expression continues marked by the same restrictions of always and there are maintained the legal and constitutional prohibitions to practice journalism.
The government has a monopoly of information and restricts telecommunications and access to the Internet. It continues jailing, persecuting and threatening journalists and their families and maintains total impunity for the attacks on press freedom in a judicial system absolutely controlled by the authorities.
Freelance journalist and lawyer Roberto de Jesús Quiñones continues serving jail time and has been threatened with reprisals for divulging through his family texts narrating his experience in prison. The political leader with most visibility, José Daniel Ferrer, whose organization also carried out citizen journalism, has already been imprisoned for six months.
In this period there have been detained Vladimir Turrío, Jorge Enrique Rodríguez, Enrique Díaz, Nelson Álvarez Mairata, Yoanny Limonta, Ricardo Fernández Izaguirre, Jancel Moreno, Anderlay Guerra, Rolando Rodríguez Lobaina, Frank Correa and Lien Estrada, among other communicators, some of them on more than one occasion. Fernández Izaguirre was interned for more than 24 hours in a dungeon with space conditions, privacy, temperature and lighting, very similar to the international standards classified as torture.
Journalists Vladimir Turró, Yoe Suárez, Camila Acosta, Frank Correa, Abu Duyanah Tamayo and Iliana Hernández have reported having received “warnings” – whose accumulation can lead to imprisonment- or fines.
The authorities have seized equipment to Nelson Álvarez Mairata, Camila Acosta and Yoanny Limonta. To Álvarez Mairata there was also carried out a register in his home and a hacking of his accounts on social media. Also registered was the home of Yosleidy Romero, head of the Cuban Institute for Freedom of Expression (ICLEP).
The State Security has conducted other acts of harassment on journalists’ families such as the exhaustive inspection of the travel equipment of the mother of Henry Constantín on leaving Cuba, police summonses to “interview” to the mother of Yoe Suárez and the husband of Miriam Celaya, visits and issuance of verbal threats to family members of Ana León, Waldo Fernández Cuenca and Ariel Maceo. Journalist Yoe Suárez in addition was warned that if he continued working his wife and son would have problems.
Another form of assault on journalists is pressure on the owners of the rental houses where they reside, in order to expel the journalist, as happened to Camila Acosta.
Several journalists have been banned in this period from leaving the country, for example Reinaldo Escobar (14ymedio newsroom chief), Nelson Álvarez Mairata (YouTuber and correspondent of AND Cuba), Yoe Suárez (stringer of Diario de Cuba and La Hora de Cuba), Rolando Rodríguez Lobaina (director of the Palenque Visión agency), Ismario Rodríguez (of the Periodismo de Barrio team), Maikel González Vivero (director of Tremenda Nota), Camila Acosta (of Cubanet), Yoandy Izquierdo (member of the Editorial Board of the magazine Convivencia), Regina Coyula (blogger), Mario Félix Ramírez, Lien Estrada (editor and stringer of La Hora de Cuba, respectively), Ricardo Fernández Izaguirre (stringer of 14ymedio and La Hora de Cuba).
These journalists are added to those that previously were “regulated” (an official euphemism for those that are prohibited from leaving Cuba): Luz Escobar (14ymedio), Iliana Hernández (Cibercuba), Ana León (Cubanet), Waldo Fernández Cuenca, Yunia Figueredo, Osmel Ramírez and Boris González Arenas (Diario de Cuba), Rosalia Viñas (designer of the magazine Convivencia), Abraham Jiménez Enoa (El Estornudo), Inalkis Rodríguez Lora, Iris Mariño and Henry Constantín (La Hora de Cuba).
Journalists Maikel González Vivero, Nelson Álvarez Mairata and Yandry Pérez García complained that they suffered threats through Facebook and Twitter. Also registered was cyber bullying of the journalists of the LGBTI community Nelson Álvarez Mairata, Zekie Fuentes, Lien Estrada and Maykel González Vivero.
The harassment also extends to the sources. The head of a school was fired from her work for giving an interview to Vladimir Turró about a public health problem. As a result there was visited the neighborhood of her fiancé and investigated the influencer Miguelin David after giving an interview to La Hora de Cuba. Interrogated and threatened were Yoelvis Lamorú and other residents of the neighborhood after there was published a report on its electricity problems.
The most common threat is a police summons during which journalists tend to be threatened with being sent to prison. This happened to Camila Acosta, Yunia Figueredo, Niober García Fournier, Carlos Melián, Mario Ramírez, Luz Escobar, Yoe Suárez, Carlos Manuel Álvarez, Miriam Celaya, Rudy Cabrera, Yanier Joubert, Abu Duyanah Tamayo and Lien Estrada.
Cristian Álvarez and Yasel Porto lost their jobs in state media, for publishing content uncomfortable for authorities
In this period there were blocked the following Web sites linked to journalism: La Joven Cuba, OnCuba, Periodismo del Barrio, Asociación Pro Libertad de Prensa and El Toque. In addition, the blockade of the websites of several dozen other media and NGOs related to freedom of expression was maintained. State monopoly ETECSA watches over and censors the Interest and prevents from entering the country the signal of Televisión Martí and other channels produced abroad. It continues the random persecution of clandestine television broadcasters, and the watching over and censorship concerning the contents distributed in an independent manner in El Paquete.