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Cuban journalist arbitrarily arrested, harassed by police

(IAPA/IFEX) - 28 November 2012 - The arbitrary arrest of Cuban independent journalist Roberto de Jesús Guerra, editor of the news agency Hablemos Press, was protested today by the Inter American Press Association (IAPA).

Guerra was violently detained earlier today (November 28) by security agents in civilian clothes as he was coming out of his home to buy an ice cream for his wife. He was planning later to go to the Czech Republic embassy to go online. After several hours he was freed.

“The Cuban regime's repression of independent journalists has changed tactics – now the security forces jail them and hold them behind bars for several hours, producing an intimidatory effect on the victim,” said Claudio Paolillo, chairman of the IAPA's Committee on Freedom of the Press and Information.

Yoani Sánchez, the Committee's regional vice chair for Cuba, wrote in a Tweet that “the Raulist (referring to President Raúl Castro) repression is characterized by brief and threatening detentions that leave no legal trace.”

Hablemos Press is a Cuban agency that is not recognized by the Castro brothers regime and which specializes in documenting and reporting on human rights violations on the island, using videos and the Twitter social network.

Although he was released, the state telephone company has since September 23 cut off Guerra's mobile phone, which has the effect of sabotaging his work, as because of the censorship that reins in Cuba he tweeted his reports in text messages.

Calixto Ramón Martínez, a Hablemos Press correspondent, is in jail under deplorable conditions since August at the Combinado del Este prison and has been staging a hunger strike for the past 18 days.

Guerra told the IAPA that “the political police” “has been persecuting” him over his journalistic work. He added that during his detention today he was interrogated by two agents who introduced themselves as “Junior” and “Tamayo.” They warned him that they would not allow him to access the Internet ever again in order to upload reports or videos. In addition, they threatened him that every time he sought to do so he would be arrested by the security forces.

Paolillo, editor of the Montevideo, Uruguay, weekly Búsqueda, declared his “most energetic repudiation of the totalitarian practices that remain in place in the longest dictatorship in the history of Latin America” and called on the governments of the region to “stop being inattentive to the suffering of the Cuban people."

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