Cuban authorities on Saturday revoked the credentials of journalists working for Spain’s EFE news agency, its local editor-in-chief said.
Atahualpa Amerise, head of EFE’s office in Cuba, said authorities had failed to provide “the exact reason” they would be barred from reporting.
“When we asked why, they pointed to the foreign press regulations,” Amerise said. “They didn’t tell us if it was temporary or permanent,” he added.
Amerise said it was the first time that such an order had been given to a foreign press office in Cuba.
It is apparently not clear whether the ban is temporary or permanent.
Two journalists were able to recover their credentials following negotiations, Amerise said.
The decision to revoke journalists’ powers comes a month and a half after the accreditation of EFE’s editorial coordinator in Havana was withdrawn.
EFE’s local office has three editors, a photographer and a videographer.
EFE president Gabriela Canas said she hoped the Cuban government would “reconsider” returning press credentials.
“EFE is an objective and responsible media [entity] who has been reporting on the island for over 40 years and does not understand the reasons for this measure, “Canas wrote on Twitter.
Spain summons top Cuban official from Madrid
Spain’s foreign ministry said on Sunday it was contacting its Cuban charge d’affaires to demand an explanation of the Havana action.
In addition, the Spanish Embassy in Havana is reportedly working with Cuban authorities for the return of journalists’ credentials.
The European Union and Amnesty International have also criticized Cuba’s decision.
The EU called on Havana to guarantee freedom of expression and press freedom, and to return all permissions and powers to EFE, a spokesperson in Brussels said on Sunday evening.
“Foreign correspondents play an important role in promoting international understanding and help open up societies,” the EU statement added.
Cuba protests against political prisoners
Anti-government protests planned by the opposition are scheduled for Monday.
The protests aim to pressure the government to release political prisoners.
Cuban officials, however, deny the existence of political prisoners in the country. They see the opposition as illegitimate and claim that it is funded by the United States.
The gatherings are expected to take place the same day Cuba, hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic and the US embargo, reopens its borders to international visitors.
In July, unprecedented street protests rocked Cuba as people took to the streets shouting “freedom” and “we are hungry”.
The protests left one dead, dozens injured and 1,175 arrests. Half are still in prison, says human rights group Cubalex.
sri / fb (AFP, EFE, Reuters)