14ymedio, Havana, 4 April 2018 — Independent reporter Rudy Cabrera, a contributor to Cubanet, was released on Tuesday afternoon after a 48-hour arrest. “They told me that this arrest was just the ‘kiss of the tiger’,” the journalist told 14ymedio. He also said that he was subject to “different levels of threats” during his imprisonment.
Cabrera’s arrest came after a search of his home, last Sunday, by State Security and the National Revolutionary Police (PNR). They seized several external hard drives, a laptop, a desktop computer, a printer and other personal items.
That morning, two “patrol cars, four motorcycles and a civilian car,” arrived at Cabrera’s house to conduct the search, along with a photographer, five State Security agents and several police officers. “They had a search warrant to look for computer equipment and story boards,” he told this newspaper.
About three hours after the search of the house began, the reporter was taken to the police station in the municipality of Cerro. “The first day I did not eat anything because I did not have an appetite,” he says.
Cabrera was questioned several times at the station and State Security officials repeatedly threatened to send him to jail but also alluded to his professional training with phrases such as: “You are an educated person.”
An agent of the political police, who identified himself as Camilo, insists that the search of the house and the detention were only “the kiss of the tiger.” The officer suggested that they had found “something very irregular” in the house that could be legally “complicating” for Cabrera.
Another member of State Security warned the reporter that he should not cross the “red line” and told him that his work as a journalist had placed him “under the spotlight” of the authorities’ attention, threats that Cabrera believes are intended to intimidate him and to stop him from continuing with his work.
Rudy Cabrera work has been especially outstanding in the preparation of audiovisual reports for Cubanet, with on the street interviews and reports about the use of technology, housing problems and the work of groups opposed to the Government.
“I was allowed to leave the station after my mother paid the 3,000 Cuban peso fine they levied on me,” he explains. “According to the document, the fine was for illegal economic activity and now I have to consult with a lawyer, because everything has been very arbitrary,” he says.
Before leaving the police station, the reporter signed the official record with the list of the belongings seized in the search, which have not yet been returned.
The Cuban penal code sets a penalty of deprivation of liberty for from three months to one year, or a fine of 100 to 300 CUP, for the criminal offense of “without the corresponding license or despite the existence of an express legal or regulatory prohibition, working, for profit, to produce, transform or sell merchandise, or provide any service.”
Pressures against independent journalists have intensified in recent months and, along with arbitrary arrests, State Security has increased the number of searches in their homes and the confiscation of their tools of the trade.
At the beginning of this year the Freedom House organization gave Cuba a very low score of 14 points on a scale of 0 to 100 in rating freedom on the island. The report, which analyzes the situation of political rights and civil freedoms in the world, cataloged the country as “not free” with regards to freedom of the press and the internet.
The 14ymedio team is committed to serious journalism that reflects the reality of deep Cuba. Thank you for joining us on this long road. We invite you to continue supporting us, but this time by becoming a member of 14ymedio. Together we can continue to transform journalism in Cuba.