Reporters Without Borders today condemned an operation by government agents and paramilitaries on 22 November in which intimidation and force was used to prevent participants in a training workshop for independent journalists from attending a party to mark the end of the course.
“We condemn this all the more firmly as it was targeted at journalists and would-be journalists whose only crime was to get training outside of official channels and to want to promote a free, quality press in Cuba,” the press freedom organisation said.
Among those who received visits at home from paramilitary groups members were students Feliberto Pérez and Julio Sánchez, who were threatened with reprisals if they left their homes.
Alexander García Mujica, the editor of the Villa Blanca Press agency, and Félix Reyes Gutiérrez of the Cubanacán Press agency were also forced to stay in their homes. García was warned that if he went out, “no one will be responsible for what happens to you.” Reyes was put under surveillance by Communist Party members and his telephone was confiscated.
Alejandro Tur Valladares, the editor of the Jagua Press agency and a member of the training panel, was arrested as he was leaving his home and taken to a Communist Party office where he was threatened with imprisonment and was not released until six hours had passed. The same happened to student Francisco Blanco Sanabria.
Cubanacán Press editor Guillermo Fariñas, who coordinated the workshop training, received a visit from three military personnel the day after the party. He told Reporters Without Borders the three soldiers said to him they would not tolerate any more independent training.
The workshop was organised by the Marta Abreu Social Studies Forum and the Free Cultural Institute of the central city of Santa Clara, founded in April 2001 by independent journalist Omar Moíses Ruiz Hernández, who was arrested in March 2003 and is now serving an 18-year prison sentence.