14ymedio, Havana, 27 January 2020 — The journalist Reinaldo Escobar was not able to travel to Bogotá to participate in the event Where is the region going? Democratic perspectives in Latin America, being hosted by Sergio Arboleda University. The editor-in-chief of 14ymedio was informed that he was “regulated” early this Monday, while trying to pass the immigration window at José Martí International Airport.
“I checked in very early with the Copa Airlines airline and everything went well without any problem, but when I went to the immigration counter they told me what to expect,” he says. “Shortly afterwards another officer arrived, he took my passport and told me to accompany him to an office.”
The officer was sparing in details. “Unfortunately you cannot fly, here on the computer it says that you have a travel ban,” said the official of the Directorate of Identification and Immigration and Aliens (DIIE).
Escobar invoked article 52 of the Constitution of the Republic which ensures that “persons have the freedom to enter, remain, transit and leave the national territory, change their domicile or residence, without any other limitations than those established by law,” but the Officer insisted that he did not know the reasons for the ban.
“You have to go to the police station in your area to see why you have a travel ban,” he reiterated on multiple occasions.
Escobar is not being prosecuted or investigated for any crime, has no outstanding fines and does not have a criminal record, all reasons that can be legally used to prevent someone from traveling. “My passport is updated, with its corresponding extension and my visa is also in order,” he added.
Several human rights organizations, national and international, have denounced the repression of this new strategy that consists in restricting the movement of activists, opponents and journalists to prevent them from traveling abroad.
Last year, Guillermo del Sol shined a light on this problem through his 55 day hunger strike which he held to denounce, initially, the “regulation” of his son. The independent press sector is one of the most punished, since its professionals are invited to workshops, courses or conferences and are prevented from attending by applying this status.
Two 14ymedio reporters had already been regulated previously, Luz Escobar and Ricardo Fernández, a group now joined by our editor-in-chief.
Abraham Jiménez Enoa, from El Estornudo, as well as Boris González Arenas, Maykel González Vivero and Jorge Amado are among the other journalists from private media who have been through the same.
Among the activists and opponents who have also been “regulated” are Katherine Mojena, Abdel Legrá Pacheco, Fernando Palacio, María Elena Mir Marrero and Enix Barrio Sardá, among others.
The total list of those affected by this measure, which is updated by the Patmos Institute, exceeds to more than 200, although the number is constantly changing because it can be a temporary measure and activated at the convenience of the authorities. Sometimes, when the injured party goes to Migration to protest, he is told that it has been an error and they proceed to remove him from the list, but by that time the plane has left and the planned trip was thwarted.
The most recent case, this same Sunday, was that of art curator Claudia Genlui, who reported on her social networks that she was prevented from traveling to Colombia “for work reasons.” “Why am I regulated? Am I (are we, because this list is growing) criminals? I only see intellectuals, artists, activists and human rights defenders imprisoned on this Island, forbidden from their freedom and limited in their capacities to overcome. A strategy that advocates forcing us into exile, exhausting ourselves and breaking our creative spirit,” Genlui said on her networks.
Since October 2018, Sergio Arboleda University has developed the Cuba Program that focuses on analyzing the democratic perspectives on current affairs in the Island. The initiative seeks to “understand the processes that have been experienced” in the Cuban reality in recent years and “understand the impacts on the region.”
Together with the students of the University’s Politics and International Relations program, Colombian activists and politicians and academics in the region, have passed through the Cuba Program, including voices such as the historian Armando Chaguaceda, the sociologist Elaine Acosta and the journalist Yoani Sánchez
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