Miami (July 6, 2022) - The Inter American Press Association (IAPA) called on the international community to be vigilant and denounce the repressive actions of the Cuban regime against independent journalists a few days before commemorating the first anniversary of the July 11 protests last year.
IAPA President Jorge Canahuati urged the "International community to be attentive to the repressive signals and threats of the regime against independent journalists and citizens, to discourage demonstrations on the anniversary of July 11". Canahuati, CEO of Grupo Opsa, from Honduras, added, "We must react immediately and be vigilant that the government does not continue to violate human rights to perpetuate itself in power."
Carlos Jornet, chairman of the IAPA's Committee on Freedom of the Press and Information, demanded, "The immediate release of journalists Lázaro Yuri Valle Roca and Jorge Bello Domínguez, imprisoned for exercising their rights to freedom of expression." Jornet, the editor of La Voz del Interior of Argentina, added that "it is time that the threats, temporary detentions, surveillance, criminal complaints, police harassment, and coercion to leave the country, among other pressures used by the regime to harass independent journalists, cease."
The IAPA officers detailed some of the complaints registered in recent days.
On July 5, the political police interrogated Iván García, independent journalist and correspondent of the U.S. newspaper Diario Las Américas. After a disproportionate operation to detain him, during the interrogation, he was ordered not to leave his house on July 11 because he would be arrested.
On June 28, independent journalist Lázaro Yuri Valle Roca, director of the digital blog and YouTube channel Delibera, was tried. The Prosecutor's Office asked for six years in prison for the alleged crimes of resistance and enemy propaganda. The final sentence could be announced in the coming weeks. Valle Roca has been imprisoned since June 15, 2021, for filming and disseminating on social media images of the launching of proclamations with phrases of the 19th-century independence patriots José Martí and Antonio Maceo.
On June 30, the IAPA warned that Henry Constantín, editor of the magazine La Hora de Cuba and regional vice chairman of the organization's Committee on Freedom of the Press and Information, was intercepted as he left his home. Constantín denounced that the State Security agents, "without showing any documents or reasons," forced him to return to his house, forbade him to leave, and warned him: "Later we will come to talk to you."
A few days ago, the family of journalist Jorge Bello Domínguez, sentenced in April to 15 years in prison for the crime of "contempt" after participating in the July 11 protests, denounced that other prisoners beat him after threats from a State Security officer.
As of mid-June, 381 people were sentenced to 25 years in prison accused of different crimes after participating in the massive protests that began on July 11, 2021, and lasted for several days in demand for freedom and better living conditions.
Cuba ranks 21st out of 22 countries in the Americas analyzed in the IAPA Chapultepec Index, a tool that measures institutional performance regarding freedom of expression and press freedom.
IAPA is a non-profit organization dedicated to defending and promoting freedom of the press and expression in the Americas. It comprises more than 1,300 publications from the western hemisphere; and is based in Miami, Florida, United States.