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IAPA condemns harassment of journalists

(IAPA/IFEX) - Miami, June 27, 2012 - The Inter American Press Association (IAPA) today condemned a new wave of detentions and threats against Cuban independent journalists, as well as the lack of press freedom and freedom of assembly persisting in the country.

The independent news agency Centro de Información Hablemos Press complained on Monday through a video posted on its Web site, www.cihpress.com, of an increase in repression of its journalists. In the 12-minute video, also available on YouTube, news photographer Gerardo Younel Avila reported that he was arrested last month and again on June 23; editor Ernesto Aquino was summoned on June 11; reporter Calixto R. Martínez was also detained in May, and correspondent Magaly Norvis Otero Suárez was detained on June 16 and on June 25, having been warned that if she continued with her journalistic activities and "enemy propaganda" she would be jailed.

The chairman of the IAPA's Committee on Freedom of the Press and Information, Gustavo Mohme, protested "the lack of press freedom and freedom of assembly that the Cuban colleagues continue to suffer."

Mohme, editor of the Lima, Peru, newspaper La República, praised the commitment of the "determined journalists" who, despite the harassment and arbitrary detentions, are continuing to exercise their right to express themselves.

Roberto de Jesús Guerra Pérez, director of Hablemos Press, created in 2009, explained that since they began the weekly publication and distribution of a news bulletin two months ago "the repression has become even more intense."

Reporter Martínez confirmed that they will continue working "so as to break down the wall of silence that the government has put in place in order to keep the Cuban people censored."

International organizations have also denounced an increase in repression and harassment of those opposed to the government, especially members of the Ladies in White association and other groups of independent journalists and bloggers. The Cuban government does not allow people belonging to these associations to express themselves without reprisals, to travel abroad or to freely move around the country.

In January and February, according to human rights defense organizations, some 600 arrests were reported. In 2011 a total of 4,115 people were detained and 1,765 in 2010.

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