If You Leave, You Will Be Arrested

Note: The “video” is audio only — there are no images

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 16 November 2019 — Two of Cuba’s State Security agents have been stationed, since Friday morning, at the entrance of the building where Yoani Sánchez and Reinaldo Escobar live in Havana to prevent the two 14ymedio journalists from going outside.

One of the agents, who did not identify himself, replied that he was “licensed in Law” when Escobar explained to him, on Saturday, that, by not letting him leave his home, he was committing a crime of “duress” according to Article 286 of the Criminal Code.

“Today you will probably stay home, right? To avoid arrests, to avoid a group of things, not to reach other extremes,” said the agent.

This is the transcript of the conversation: 

Agent: Good morning.

Reinaldo: Good morning.

Agent: I recommend your staying here.

Reinaldo: What are you telling me?

Agent: That I recommend your staying here.

Reinaldo: I don’t know what you want to tell me with this.

Agent: Are you not Yoani (Sánchez)’s husband?

ReinaldoI am Reinaldo Escobar, Yoani’s husband.

Agent: I am telling you that I recommend that you stay here.

Reinaldo: I hear your recommendation, but I don’t understand. Explain it to me better.

Agent: But how do you want me to explain it to you? You know how it is today. I am not here for pleasure.

Reinaldo: I don’t know who you are. I do not know you.

Agent: Well, I’m telling you, I’m the official here.

Reinaldo: What is your name, who are you, can you identify yourself?

Agent: I can identify myself but that won’t tell you much anyway. Not everyone is going to come and tell you that he suggests you not go out.

Reinaldo: You can say it however you want.

Agent: I said good morning, in a civil manner. I am suggesting. You determine what you want. Understand? As a suggestion.

Reinaldo: But what happens if I don’t accept your suggestion.

Agent: Ah, I don’t know. You know how it is today.

Reinaldo: I don’t know what you are saying to me about today. What is happening today?

Agent: What is happening today? I imagine that my colleagues who have spoken with you and Yoani have told you that today you are probably going to stay in the house, right? To avoid arrests, to avoid a group of things that… not to reach other extremes.

Reinaldo: Read this [and hands him a paper where he has copied Article 52 of the Constitution and a fragment of Article 286 of the Criminal Code detailing the crime of “coercion”].

Agent: Yes, of course, I know it. I know it, I have a law degree

Reinaldo: Then you know that you are violating Article 286.

Agent: No, I am not violating it

Reinaldo: Of course, you are preventing that…

Agent: No, preventing means that I hinder you right now, that you take some action. I stand in front of you. I told you good morning in a civil manner…

Reinaldo: Okay, but you’re telling me that if I go out that door then you proceed to do something else.

Agent: No, I said “I suggest.”

Reinaldo: Ah, then I’m going out because you are not my dad.

Agent: No, of course.

ReinaldoWhere are they going to detain me when I leave and for how long is this, until what day is this?

Agent: No, I don’t know. I can not tell you. I am here fulfilling a function.

ReinaldoWhat would you do.

Agent I’m going to tell you right now.

Reinaldo: What do you do in case I want to leave. So I can know.

Agent: (Makes a phone call). Hey, you hear me. Reinaldo is here in front of me, he wants to leave and I am telling him that today is not an appropriate day for that.

Reinaldo: The question is what happens if I go out?

Agent: (Talking on the phone) No, he has not done anything we are talking and he wants to know what can happen to him if he goes out.

Reinaldo: What does your compañero say?

Agent: That if you leave they will detain you. That if you leave they will detain you.


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