Police Accuse Journalist Henry Constantin Of “Usurpation Of Legal Capacity” / 14ymedio

Cuban activist Henry Constantin. (Twitter)

14ymedio, Havana, 17 March 2017 – Journalist Henry Constantin, director of La Hora de Cuba (Cuba Hour) magazine and regional vice president of the Inter American Press Association (IAPA), was formally charged Friday with the crime of “usurpation of legal capacity,” he told 14ymedio.

Constantin received a subpoena for the third Police Station in the city of Camagüey where First Lieutenant Pacheco Seagnamillo informed him that he was accused of conducting interviews on the public right-of-way in which he “misrepresented reality.”

The police did not mention the names of potential complainants, but emphasized that he was not “empowered” to perform a reporter’s job.

The journalist could be prosecuted for violating Article 149 of the Penal Code which punishes whomever “performs acts of a profession for the exercise of which he is not properly qualified.” The sentence contemplates the “deprivation of liberty from three months to a year or a fine of 100 to 300 shares* or both.” The official told him that the independent journalist Sol García Basulto, correspondent of this newspaper, will also be prosecuted for the same crime.

In the next 60 days, Constantin will be subject to a precautionary measure yet to be detailed but at the moment he cannot leave the city. The reporter will not be able to attend an exhibition in Los Angeles, about the current situation of journalists on the island, nor the subsequent meeting of the IAPA in Guatemala.

Constantín was named last December as IAPA’s regional vice president for Cuba and pledged to spread “the reality of journalism” on the island. The organization has issued several press releases condemning the harassment and arrests of those who have been victims of attacks in recent weeks. It has urged the Cuban government to guarantee freedom of the press and expression throughout the country.

*Translator’s note: Cuban law sets fines based on “shares”; the value of a share is set separately and in this way can be changed, over time, without having to amend all of the laws that reference fines as a penalty.