The revocation of the visa of Cuban journalist in Ecuador concerns IAPA


Miami (June 26, 2024) - The Inter American Press Association (IAPA) expressed concern over the decision by the Ecuadorian Foreign Ministry to revoke the visa of Cuban journalist Alondra Santiago. The reason given was alleged acts against state security, after Santiago circulated a video with a song where she criticized the government of President Daniel Noboa, using parts of the national anthem.

Santiago, who is also an actress, criticized the situation in prisons and the First Lady of Ecuador, among other things, as reported by the Spanish newspaper El País. The 33-year-old journalist hosts an interview program on the INGOec YouTube channel and has been living in Ecuador for almost 20 years, working for various national media outlets.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Human Mobility notified her on Tuesday that her visa has been revoked and she must leave the country within five days. The government argued in a statement that the decision was based on classified information from the Ministry of the Interior regarding alleged acts that threaten public security.

In a statement, the Ministry of the Interior argued that the decision was made "based on technical criteria and strict adherence to the institutional framework and competencies of each entity." The Foreign Ministry stated that under human mobility legislation, a deportation process must be initiated in this case, and the Cuban Embassy must be notified, as reported by CNN en Español.

Santiago stated that this is an arbitrary decision, and she is consulting with lawyers to prevent its enforcement. Meanwhile, the press freedom organization Fundamedios indicated that "this act constitutes an abusive use of state power and undermines freedom of expression."

Roberto Rock, President of IAPA, expressed that "it is necessary for the government to clarify whether the revocation of the visa is related to the journalist's criticisms, given the lack of precision about the reasons behind the decision."

The journalist, who often interviews political figures on her channel, was accused on June 5 by university lecturer William Brito of the crime of slander for allegedly disparaging the lyrics of the Ecuadorian national anthem after posting the critical song video on TikTok.

The journalist, who acknowledged receiving "many negative comments with a gender and xenophobic charge" for that parody, could face a sentence of between six months and two years in prison if found guilty.

Carlos Jornet, President of the IAPA's Committee on Freedom of the Press and Information and editor of the Argentine newspaper La Voz del Interior, warned that "in the months leading up to the electoral campaign, the government must ensure that journalists can carry out their work and their right to opinion and criticism without fear of interference due to their comments, thus strengthening the possibility of an open and informed public debate."

In March, Ecuadorian President Daniel Noboa committed to guaranteeing press and expression freedoms in his country by signing, after a meeting with an international IAPA delegation, the Chapultepec and Salta Declarations, in an event held at the Carondelet presidential palace in Quito."

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.