14ymedio, Havana, 23 August 2021 — The reporters of La Hora de Cuba, Iris Mariño, Neife Rigau and Henry Constantín were fined this Monday with 1,000 pesos for the alleged crime of “public disorder” for which State Security tried to charge them after they tried to cover, as journalists, the protests of the July 11 (11J).
Constantín, director of the independent media, confirmed the imposition of the fines during a live broadcast through the social network Facebook, shortly after leaving the State Security Operations headquarters in the Garrido district of the city of Camagüey.
As of July 21st, when the three reporters were released, they were serving a sanction of “home confinement” and this monetary penalty “closed” the case against them. “We are somewhat happy although the sanction is unfair, none of us should be sanctioned for demonstrating peacefully,” added the journalist.
Mariño, Rigau and Constantín were summoned on the morning of this Monday by two political police officers who passed their homes on motorcycles to verbally announce that they should attend the meeting, although at no time “did they show up or leave a citation.”
In his brief speech, the director of the magazine also reported that he had heard that the opposition activist Félix Navarro, also arrested after the 11J protests, is on a hunger strike in a prison in Matanzas. The former Black Spring prisoner was infected with covid-19 and was hospitalized a few days after his arrest.
According to La Hora de Cuba activist Bárbaro de Céspedes, known as El Patriota, was released from prison this Monday “with a precautionary measure of home confinement,” after being locked up since last July 11 for participating in the protests. The journalists of this Camagüey publication have been frequently harassed by the police authorities, who prevent them from carrying out their work. Constantín and Mariño were threatened with prosecution for a crime of “usurpation of legal capacity” — that is working as journalists without a license to do so, in a country that refuses to license independent journalists.
After learning of the reporters’ arrest on July 11, the Inter-American Press Association demanded the immediate release of Constantín, Rigau and Mariño, who had been imprisoned in the police unit known as Second Station.
For its part, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) also demanded the release of the independent media’s reporters and others under arrest, while urging the government to release them “immediately and unconditionally.”
“Cuban authorities have responded to the largest anti-government protests in the country in decades with expected hostility, attacks on members of the press and interruptions in internet service,” said Ana Cristina Núñez, CPJ researcher for Central and South America.
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