14ymedio, Havana, 6 July 2018 — The independent journalist Roberto de Jesus Quinones was freed Thursday afternoon following 58 hours in custody in Guantanamo. The police gave him a warning for “spreading false news that puts international peace at risk” and threatened him with increased pressure, as revealed by the reporter to 14ymedio.
“Last Tuesday, at about eight in the morning some dozen people appeared at my house including police officials and agents of State Security,” says Quinones. “I demanded that the search order be signed by a prosecutor, and they got the signature in about 15 minutes,” he says.
The reporter, a regular contributor to Cubanet, acknowledges that though he considers himself “an impartial man” he could not avoid calling the officers “henchmen and cowards.”
After handcuffing the reporter, the officers transported him to the Provinical Jail Processing Unit. His wife, Ana Rosa Castro, remained in the home during the more than three-hour search.
The authorities took a USB drive, the journalist’s passport and personal documents such as a copy of his mobile service contract with the Cuba Telecommunications Company.
They seized from the wife, among other things, “a desktop computer, a laptop, a radio, a music player, 800 CUC, documents and a camera belonging to Caritas,” a Catholic non-profit for which the woman works.
“I live with the psychological pressure that one day I get up and may have all these people at the door,” says Quinones.
The agents explained that they would review the computers in order to return them or seize them, depending on the results. The couple are worried because the officers did not leave a certificat detailing what was seized , a requirement when police carry out raids.
“In the interrogations they made clear that they no longer consider me a man of culture or ideas and that from now on I will feel the force of repression,” details Quinones. “For them I am a counterrevolutionary and I am attacking the government with my writings.”
The officers verbally accused the reporter of being “a mercenary” who works for a press outlet “of the imperialism,” referring to Cubanet, with headquarters in Miami.
“I refused to sign the warning document with which they released me because they did not want to give me a copy,” explains Quinones.
In recent years, activists, dissidents, journalists and members of independent civil society have been victims of searches of their homes that ended with seizure of their means of work.
In 2016 authorities raided the Center for Legal Information, Cubalex, and a year later searched the headquaarters of the Center for Co-Existence Studies in Pinar del Rio. The home of Eliecer Avila, president of the Somos+ (We Are More) Movement and the Circulo Gallery and Workshop which are run jointly by artist Luis Trapaga and activist Lia Villares were also searched.
More recently independent Holguin journalist, Osmel Ramirez, was a victim of a three-day detention and a search of his home.
Translated by Mary Lou Keel
The 14ymedio team is committed to serious journalism that reflects the reality of deep Cuba. Thank you for joining us on this long road. We invite you to continue supporting us, but this time by becoming a member of 14ymedio. Together we can continue to transform journalism in Cuba.