14ymedio, Havana, 27 February 2018 — On Saturday immigration authorities prevented four members of the board of the Pro Press Freedom Association (APLP) from leaving the country. They were headed to Trinidad and Tobago to participate in a journalism workshop, the president of the independent organization, Jose Antonio Fornaris confirmed to 14ymedio.
Julio César Álvarez, Amarilis Cortina, Miriam Herrera and Fornaris themselves unable to board the plane at the José Martí International Airport on their way to Port of Spain, because the each had exit restrictions applied to them. The four activists passed the Caribbean Airlines check-in but they failed to pass the immigration checkpoint.
In the National System of National Identification (SUIN) database, which uses both the Civil Registry and the Directorate of Immigration and Foreigners (DIE), the four appear as “regulated,” although officials in the office of Immigration and Foreigners do not know the reasons, they claimed. “I only follow orders,” one official clarified.
“None of the four had been regulated before,” Fornaris told this newspaper. The members of the APLP plan to file a complaint with the Office of the Prosecutor to demand that they be given the right to exit and enter the country.
“What happened is a clear violation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states that everyone has the right to leave any country, including their own, and to return to their country,” the independent journalist explains.
Fornaris notes that “in recent days several members of the APLP were summoned by the political police to interviews, in which they received threats of different kinds.”
The president of the organization believes that both the police summonses and the current denial of the right to travel are due to the fact that last December the group sent a report to the Human Rights Council of the United Nations (UN) on freedom of the press. in Cuba.
This Saturday, the activists Jacqueline Madrazo Luna and Dora Leonor Mesa Crespo, members of the Citizens for Racial Integration Committee (CIR) who had been invited to participate in the 167th session of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, an international body, were also prevented from traveling; they were on their way to a human rights meeting sponsored by the Organization of American States, to be held in Bogotá, Colombia.
What happened with these independent journalists and activists is part of a new tactic used against civil society groups on the island. To the arrests, the confiscation of personal belongings, the raids of their homes and the imposition of judicial charges are added, more and more frequently, travel bans under any pretext.
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