Journalist Cynthia de la Cantera asks for support in the face of threats from State Security

MEXICO CITY, Mexico. — Independent journalist Cynthia de la Cantera Toranzo is the latest victim of Cuban State Security to publicly reveal the harassment and violence she has suffered for practicing journalism in media not controlled by the government.

According to the testimony he has shared with CubaNet and other independent media, the young woman has been systematically harassed since 2020 by various elements of the political police.

De la Cantera, regular contributor to the portal YuccaBytethe only independent media outlet focused on technology and digital rights, acknowledges that it does not even know for sure the names of its repressors.

“I don’t know if the names they introduce themselves as are their real names. State Security has a practice of using pseudonyms.”

Nominated for the Gabo 2020 award, the reporter, based in Havana, asked the international community not to abandon the dozens of persecuted and imprisoned journalists and activists in Cuba.

Summons from the Ministry of the Interior (Photo: Courtesy)

Interrogations and psychological violence

Cynthia de la Cantera acknowledges that she has suffered interrogations and psychological violence, but that the threats by State Security against her and her partner are escalating.

In his last interrogation, held on April 22, “1st Lieutenant Manuel, State Security operational officer, told me to say publicly that I am going to quit journalism. A few weeks earlier he had asked me to handwrite that resignation.”

The journalist, a graduate of the University of Havana, refused to sign the document requested by the lieutenant, as well as to publish on her social networks that she was leaving journalism.

Previously, State Security had fined Cynthia de la Cantera under Decree-Law 370, which criminalizes content on networks, despite the fact that the reporter hardly publishes on them. A repeated threat against her has been that she could be imprisoned under the new penal code, which will be discussed on May 14 by the National Assembly.

“Article 143 contemplates the deprivation of liberty from 4 to 10 years to whoever ‘supports, encourages, finances, provides, receives or has in his possession funds, material or financial resources, with the purpose of defraying activities against the State and its order. constitutional. With that article they have threatened other journalists and activists in these first months of the year, ”he mentions in his testimony.

Cuba, “worst country in Latin America in terms of press freedom”

Article 19, an organization that monitors freedom of expression, assured a couple of weeks ago in its regional report for Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean that in Cuba the law “allows hundreds of people to be subject to criminal proceedings that have no chance of effective justice”.

Since 2018, the Association for Press Freedom (APLP) has documented 191 attacks against female journalists. In the month of March alone, the organization managed to document nine attacks, although it recognizes that there may be more.

Like other human rights organizations, the APLP cannot carry out its work openly and is constantly harassed by the Cuban regime. Similarly, many of its members have been detained for short periods of time.

Year after year, Cuba is “the worst country in Latin America in terms of press freedom,” according to Reporters Without Borders, and one of the worst in the world, along with North Korea, its political ally. The French organization acknowledges that there are two journalists in jail.

De la Cantera joins a long list of violent journalists such as Anay Remón and Camila Acosta, both from CubaNetand colleagues from other media such as Luzbely Escobar and Yoani Sánchez from 14ymediojust to mention a few.

We share the testimony that our colleague Cynthia de la Cantera has sent us hoping that you will not abandon her or those who do journalism about Cuba and that “we try to continue telling that part of the story that they have denied us, despite all the violence that we suffer and our families suffer”.

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