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Cuba: Threats and harassment to Abraham Jiménez Enoa confirm growing censorship

Friday 9 October 2020 - 3:48pm

Abraham Jimenez Enoa

PEN International, Danish PEN and Cuban Writers in Exile PEN Centre call on the Cuban authorities to stop the increasing harassment towards independent journalists and writers. On 1 October 2020, journalist Abraham Jímenez Enoa was detained, threatened and interrogated for five hours by members of the State Security.

“This recent harassment and direct threats to a journalist for carrying out his work shows how the government of Miguel Díaz-Canel continues to exercise a policy of censorship against critical voices. We demand an immediate end to intimidation and attacks on independent journalists by the Cuban authorities.” declared Romana Cacchioli, Executive Director of PEN International.

Jiménez Enoa, co-founder of El Estornudo magazine and columnist for The Washington Post since June 2020, was summoned on 1 October 2020 by the police for an 'interview,' in which he was threatened with jail if he continues his collaboration with the newspaper.

According to Jiménez Enoa’s testimony and social media posts, when he arrived at the police station, “They stripped me, registered me, handcuffed me and forced me to go, head down, in a car with three officers in civilian clothes to Villa Marista, the Department of State Security”. The security agents said that “if he continued to publish in The Washington Post, he would be prosecuted for the crime of “usurpation of functions”.

The officers warned him that the news outlet for which he works is not accredited in Cuba and that they will start ‘a war’ against his family and those close to him. Jiménez Enoa was also accused of having links with the United States Government. His most recent article, published on 4 October 2020, was titled "If this is my last column here, it’s because I’ve been imprisoned in Cuba". In it, he describes the events and exposes the situation experienced by many journalists and reporters in Cuba.

During 2020, Jiménez Enoa suffered threats and police harassment. On 30 June 2020, he denounced the house arrest he suffered on the same day that a demonstration against police violence was organized, apparently to avoid his coverage of the demonstration. Jiménez Enoa is included in PEN International’s Case List 2019, where the attacks he was subjected to due to his work are documented.

Cuba features in the top ten countries with the highest level of censorship, according to the Committee for the Protection of Journalists (CPJ) and Reporters Without Borders (RSF).

PEN International calls on the Cuban government to:

  • Immediately cease the harassment, intimidation, threats and arbitrary arrests of journalists and writers critical of the Cuban government.
  • Immediately, stop the harassment of Abraham Jiménez Enoa.
  • Repeal all legislation that enable censorship or limit freedom of expression, and repeal and/or modify Decree-Law 370 and 349 that restrict the exercise of fundamental rights such as political participation, freedom of expression, privacy and the right of association.
  • Urgently comply with its international obligation as a signatory of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which guarantees that independent writers, journalists and artists have the right to write, publish and protest without fear of reprisals.