Harassment of Pinar del Río Journalists Continues / 14ymedio, Ricardo Fernandez

Lazaro Luis Ruiz Echevarria distributing the publication 'Panorama Pinareño' on Calzada de la Coloma. (Ricardo Fernandez / 14ymedio)
Lazaro Luis Ruiz Echevarria distributing the publication ‘Panorama Pinareño’ on Calzada de la Coloma. (Ricardo Fernandez / 14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Ricardo Fernandez, Pinar del Rio, 11 November 2016 — A new wave of repression erupted on 9 November against journalists and contributors to the fortnightly newsletter Pinareño Panorama. This media, belonging to the Cuban Institute for Freedom of Expression and the Press (ICLEP) has been heavily repressed in the last six months even though its content is purely social and does not explicitly address political issues. In addition to publication on the webpage www.iclep.org, the newsletter has a monthly circulation of more than 500 copies distributed among the population.

The trigger for the actions undertaken by Cuban State Security forces was the distribution of the newsletter that took place outside the interprovincial bus terminal. The new director of Pinareño Panorama, Lazaro Luis Ruiz Echevarria, and the contributor Esteban Ajete Bascal, were violently arrested on Delicias Street, between Colon and Recreo Streets, at 2:40 pm, by Captain Juan Perez Puentes, Major Orestes Ayala, Lieutenant Colonel Vuenes, Major Ivan Blanco, and the lieutenant known as Jorgito.

In the operation, State Security forces confiscated 47 printed copies of Pinareño Panorama, along with the personal phone of its director. The activist from Independent and Democratic Cuba (CID) Yaimel Rodriguez recorded what happened on his cellphone to denounce the violence that Ruiz Echevarria was subjected to; he was put in a stranglehold and dragged to a red Lada car where Majory Ayala beat him in the face.

The two detainees were taken along with the CID activist to the Provincial Unit of the National Revolutionary Police, where, they say, they were subjected to interrogation and threats. Rodriguez was released after being forced to delete all the files on his phone while the director of the publication was imprisoned for 24 hours after being brought to emergency room at the Abel Santamaria Cuadrado Provincial Hospital.

The State Security operation also held, for several hours, the former director of Pinareño Panorama, Dianelis Rodriguez and her husband, attorney Raul Risco. Two other journalists for the newsletter were summoned on Thursday and were subjected to interrogations and threats.