‘El Toque’ Denounces Harassment Against its Journalists in Cuba

Members of El Toque during their virtual press conference this Wednesday. (Captura)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 1 September 2022 — The editorial team of the independent news source El Toque denounced on Wednesday, from its editorial office in Cuba, the harassment by State Security of nine young journalists, who, as a result, gave up their jobs.

During a conference broadcast on YouTube, the directors, residing abroad, answered the questions raised that same day by an editorial entitled “The night will not be eternal,” using a phrase from the opposition leader Oswaldo Payá.

Four of these young people, Mauro Díaz Vázquez, José Leandro Garbey, Aleiny Sánchez and Meilin Puertas, were “regulated” [Translator’s note: The term chosen by the regime to mean ’forbidden to travel’] before they were able to travel to Argentina, where they had been invited to participate in the Media Party, one of the most important regional journalism events.

José Jasán Nieves, director of the media, explained that on their ignoring the travel ban, State Security subjected them to “direct and indirect” pressure to give up their jobs.

Nieves describes the methods of the political police as “a mechanism of psychological torture,” a “term that may sound strong,” but perfectly describes the actions of the repressive bodies of the Cuban Government, which has declared an “open war” on anyone who contravenes official propaganda.

According to the report from these young people, they were asked to make public their resignation from El Toque, to film a video of “self-incrimination” that, Nieves alleges, has a lot to do with the famous Padilla Case for its “Stalinist resonances.” It was an exercise of “sadism,” he insists, which Humberto López or some other “person of the regime” will then use to carry out a ’disqualification’ campaign against them, that is a “character assassination.”

For his part, Eloy Viera, coordinator of the El Toque Jurídico space, mentioned that it’s difficult to “find legality” in the actions of the Cuban regime. “Only propaganda is admitted,” he said. The rest is not allowed, and there is a tendency to use the law as a mechanism to “legitimize human rights violations,” appealing to concepts such as national security.

After its denunciation, the editorial team took advantage of the moment to reflect on the context of independent journalism on the Island, from the complaints of the artists before the Ministry of Culture on November 27, 2020, and the protests of July 11 of the following year.

On the other hand, he discussed two points with which the Government usually disqualifies the work of this medium: the monitoring of currency exchange rates in the informal market and the financing of the page. On the first, he explained that transparent and public algorithms are used to reach the daily figure that is made known to users, and as for the economics of the medium, he explained that no program or institution has ever intervened in its editorial agenda.

It’s logical that “a power that needs us to live in an alternative reality” attacks the opposition “with all the repressive force of its apparatus,” added Nieves, who also lamented the exile into which the main directors of the medium have been forced.

“Thanks to technology, it’s becoming easier to continue reporting about Cuba even if we’re not in Cuba,” he said, and indicated that his team, which he described as “multilocated,” will find “ways” to communicate from abroad, “because they will not silence us.”

Nieves specified that the situation is not exclusive to El Toque, but that other media have experienced similar “repressive waves” in recent years, which “is nothing more than another expression of the circumstance and the general crisis that our country is experiencing.”

Translated by Regina Anavy


COLLABORATE WITH OUR WORKThe 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.