14ymedio, Luz Escobar, Havana, 7 January 2022 — The Cuban activist and businesswoman Saily González Velázquez, along with others such as Salomé García Bacallao, and family members of those detained on July 11th (11J), have started a social media campaign for the Spanish news agency, EFE, to cover the prisoners’ trials.
“There is still time for foreign press credentialed in Cuba to cover the trials of political prisoners. Several family members and activists have already joined the campaign [with the hashtags] #EFECubreLosJuicios [EFECovertheTrials] and #SOSCuba. Let’s support them,” said González on Twitter from Santa Clara, where she works in the private sector.
For her part, García Bacallao, emphasized that “from January 11th through the 14th four children will be tried in Holguín for the political crime of sedition,” and until now, the Spanish agency “has not covered a single ordinary trial of more than 200 July 11th protesters.”
Activists and citizens on the Island have joined the initiative on social media using the hashtag #EFECubreLosJuicios as a way to demand the agency inform on the legal proceedings, during which some have received sentences that exceed 20 years in jail.
González explained to us that she shared the idea with a WhatsApp group that brings together family members of those detained on July 11th and civil society actors. “Every once in a while initiatives to support political prisoners are presented there and it occurred to me to launch this campaign to raise the visibility of the situation, since we already know we have no other way to help them because, in Cuba, the legal tools that would allow us to help them do not exist.”
Furthermore, she says the campaign is based “on the responsibility that EFE has, as an international press agency credentialed in Cuba, to cover these trials,” and because it is often “picked up by other European media.”
Over twenty family members have joined the initiative, says González. “We hope more will join because the important thing is to pressure EFE to respond, if not, to make it clear that the agency is being complicit with the dictatorship and to show the lack of mechanisms available to Cuban civil society and family members of political prisoners to achieve justice.”
Jonathan López Alonso, a relative of political prisoner Andy García Lorenzo, said that what they intend to accomplish with this campaign is “for these communications channels which are credentialed in Cuba and do not do their job, to do it.” This young man’s trial will take place on January 10th and he is accused of public disorder, contempt, and assault.
“They hardly cover any of what the opposition and civil society do in Cuba. EFE covered what happened with Yunior García Aguilera in November when his home was under siege, but it is unjust that they covered that and not this. Why don’t they also do this with the trials, which is so important when they seek sentences of up to 25 years?” denounced López.
Bárbara Farrat Guillén, mother of 17-year-old Jonathan Torres, who has been in prison since August 13th awaiting trial for his participation in the 11J protests, also joined the campaigned, as did activists Daniela Rojo, Camila Rodríguez, and Leonardo Fernández Otaño. The latter, on his messages of support, also makes demands of other international press agencies such as AP, Reuters, AFP or television station CNN.
Although support for the initiative is growing, activist Saily González regrets that family members “still have not decided whether to speak publicly,” and they resist “using the few mechanisms we have to exercise our rights or at least try to,” because in her opinion it is something civil society “would love to” support.
“Family members are not accustomed to using the available mechanisms, almost no citizen here in Cuba is; first of all, they don’t know what they are, they do not perceive themselves as citizens with rights. While they decide, we will continue occupying our own social media, because the streets may belong to the revolutionaries, but social media belongs to us,” she confirmed.
Last November, Cuban authorities rescinded the press credentials of EFE journalists in Cuba, in the lead up to the so-called “illegal” Civic March for Change. Later, some of the credentials were reinstated; however, according to the agency, its delegation in Havana is depleted and it needs its entire team to return to work.
Since then, EFE warned its subscribers that the decision of the Cuban authorities in the last several months “have decimated the delegation’s team,” in Havana where currently, “only two journalists can continue working.”
Translated by: Silvia Suárez
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