14ymedio, Havana, 23 November 2019 — The journalist Luz Escobar, a member of the 14ymedio team, is under house arrest for the second consecutive weekend. This Saturday, while trying to leave for a family lunch, a State Security agent stationed on the ground floor of her building warned her that he had orders not to allow her to go outside.
The man, dressed as a civilian and who identified himself as Ramses, did not offer any legal reason for the exit ban. A while later the operative was relieved and the agent’s place ]was occupied by the same man who, on November 16, prevented Escobar from going outside.
At the insistence of the reporter to know the reasons for her house confinement, the agent, who would not remove his hand from his face, stressed that if she left she would be “arrested” and that “in due course they will explain it,” but without mentioning the names or positions of those who would provide the explanation.
Last Saturday, in the framework of the celebrations for the 500th anniversary of the city of Havana, State Security prevented numerous independent activists and journalists from leaving their homes on the grounds that they must be prevented from undertaking “harmful acts” during the activities organized for the anniversary.
Luz Escobar was one of those affected then by the ban, as were the journalists Yoani Sánchez and Reinaldo Escobar, who had an operative on the ground floor of their building in Havana for two days.
Reinaldo Escobar recorded the moment when one of the agents, who did not identify himself, explained the reason for his presence: “Today it is likely that you stay at home, right? To avoid arrests, to avoid a group of things, so as not to reach other extremes.”
Home arrests are a repressive practice widely used by State Security to prevent independent activists, opponents and journalists from attending activities or covering any news. With these actions the political police incur the crime of “duress” according to article 286 of the Criminal Code.
As of May of this year Luz Escobar has also been “regulated,” the official euphemism to designate citizens who have a ban on leaving the country. About 200 people, among them reporters, activists and political opponents are “regulated.”
COLLABORATE WITH OUR WORK: The 14ymedio team is committed to practicing serious journalism that reflects Cuba’s reality in all its depth. Thank you for joining us on this long journey. We invite you to continue supporting us by becoming a member of 14ymedio now. Together we can continue transforming journalism in Cuba.