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‘I’m Not Free’: Cuban Journalist After 10 Days of House Arrest in Havana

Camila Acosta

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“Today I count 10 days of forced house arrest, with 24-hour surveillance, after spending four days in jail, incommunicado and accused of public disorder for reporting the protests of July 11,” wrote on Twitter Camila Acosta, journalist and ABC correspondent in Havana, Cuba, after serving house arrest since July 16.

Acosta also reported on social network that she is awaiting trial. “I’m not free, quite the contrary,” she added.

Acosta managed to report for ABC on the demonstrations in Cuba that have so far left more than 400 people detained or missing. On July 12 she was deprived of her freedom by agents of the National Revolutionary Police (PNR) and sent to the Fourth Commissariat of the PNR in Havana.

The social communicator was blocked from accessing the Internet and the WhatsApp instant messaging application so she could not respond to messages and calls.

By then, her father confirmed that the Cuban regime was going to prosecute her for “contempt and public disorder”, while Camila Acosta herself explained to ABC that before releasing her from prison they wanted her to sign a document accepting the charge of public disorder, which carries the penalty of a fine.

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“I refused because I didn’t do anything. I only went to the demonstration to cover it,” the journalist stated.

How does Cuba judge demonstrators?

Recently, the director of the Americas Division of Human Rights Watch (HRW), José Miguel Vivanco, explained on Twitter how the Cuban regime is judging the hundreds of demonstrators through “summary or direct attestations” processes that prevent the exercise of the right to defense.

Vivanco, based on the Cuba Prisoners Defenders report, explained that a trial can proceed even if the accused does not have a defense lawyer. In practice, the HRW executive stated that “defendants are often informed at the last minute that they need a lawyer. If they fail to hire one, they go to trial without legal representation.”

Demonstrations chanting “Freedom” and the end of the communist regime broke out in Cuba on July 11 and began in the city of San Antonio de los Baños, before spreading to several communities on the island.

The protests, billed as the largest in Cuba in decades, were observed through social networks in which thousands of demonstrators chanted the slogan “Patria y Vida” (Homeland and Life), the name of a Cuban hip-hop song that became the anthem of the uprising in that nation and is a response to the Cuban regime’s slogan “Patria o Muerte” (Homeland or Death).

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