Cuba’s Political Police Prevent the Departure of a ‘CubaNet’ Reporter Who Was Leaving for Nicaragua

Sardiñas was interrogated by the authorities at the airport / Facebook / Armando Sardiñas

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 8 June 2024 — The Cuban Government prevented activist and independent reporter Armando Sardiñas from leaving the country when he was preparing to travel to Nicaragua this Thursday, according to what was reported on his social media the following day. Two State Security agents, who have been closely watching him for months, approached him at Terminal 3 of the José Martí International Airport, where they confiscated and destroyed his ticket. They also explained that he was “disqualified from traveling.”

“As he is a collaborator of an independent press that, according to State Security, responds to the interests of another country, he could not leave Cuba. Either as a tourist or to emigrate,” reads the activist’s Facebook post, in which he refers to himself in the third person.

As explained by CubaNet, the media outlet for which he collaborates, after a lieutenant colonel of State Security – whom he does not identify by name – arrested him at the airport, he was taken to a room where a brief interrogation took place that did not last more than 15 minutes.

During that time, the political police agents asked him if he “continued to do journalism” referring to his work at CubaNet, and asked him to “stop doing it” under the threat of imprisoning him again, because “they had something to accuse him with.” One of the agents called him a mercenary, because he works for a press “paid by the empire,” according to the media.

In a conversation he had with his family moments after the incident, and from which his sister Jacqueline shared a screenshot, it can be read that the activist narrates the following: “It said on the computer (of the airport) that my exit from the country was disqualified, and then the two guanajos* (agents) arrived and told me ‘did you see that we do what we want?’”

The screenshot was accompanied by a text in which the 23-year-old’s sister laments that “beyond the pecuniary damage of 3,000 dollars (which we are going to claim) lost in a plane ticket impossible to cancel or modify an hour and a half before the departure of the flight, there is the clear and unpunished violation of the right to free movement.”

She added that the arrest of her brother and the restriction to leave Cuba occurred “without a valid argument, nor ongoing criminal proceedings, nor accusation, nor debts with the tax authorities.”

In October 2021, Sardiñas was sentenced to 10 months of correctional work with internment in the La Lima camp, located in the Havana municipality of Guanabacoa, for his participation in the anti-government protests of 11 July 2021 (11J).

“I do not lose hope, one day I will be free, I will be able to vent and get out all those feelings and anecdotes that I have been living since 11J and years before and after, the agony of living in a country under a dictatorship,” Sardiñas said through his social media after the incident was reported.

In recent months, this is not the first time that State Security has detained him. On April 14, agents arrested him while he was documenting the Dog Day march at the Colon Cemetery in Havana. On that occasion, he was held incommunicado and subjected to an interrogation that lasted seven hours. Another of his sisters, Yaima Sardiñas, was also summoned that same month.

*Translator’s note: “Guanajo” is used pejoratively to refer to someone foolish or stupid.

Translated by LAR


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