"30 Days for Freedom" Campaign: Release Cuban Journalist Juliet Michelena Diaz

Saturday, April 26, 2014
From World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers:

Juliet Michelena Díaz, Cuba, jailed since April 7th, 2014

Day 22
Country: Cuba
Journalist: Juliet Michelena Díaz
Media: Citizen journalist
Jailed since: April 7, 2014

Citizen journalist Juliet Michelena Díaz was detained earlier this month shortly after photographing a police operation in Havana. Díaz is a contributor to the Cuban Network of Community Journalists (La Red Cubana de Comunicadores Comunitarios or RCCC), a group known for its critical coverage of the government that has fallen victim to government harassment in recent months.

Díaz's arrest followed an incident on March 26 in which she and other contributors to RCCC witnessed police officers using dogs to break up a neighborhood brawl. The Miami-based daily El Nuevo Herald said the use of dogs resulted in one person being bitten. Díaz was briefly detained after the incident along with other observers and people involved in the fight, but she was able to hide her photographs from the police. However, two weeks later, the director of the group Martha Beatriz Roque Cabello said police returned to Díaz's home to arrest her after they learned that she still had photographs and was writing a report about police violence.

Authorities had initially charged Díaz with threatening a member of a pro-government mob who had applauded her initial detention, but when the article was published three days later on the Florida-based website Cubanet, officials escalated the charges to an "attack".

While Cuba has by-in-large abstained from long-term jailing of journalists, the trend of short-term, arbitrary detentions has not abated. The country has also taken small, but primarily cosmetic steps in opening press freedoms, and the impact on the independent media has been minimal, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists. Cuba’s government still has full control over all newspapers and radio and television stations, and is the ninth most censored country in the world, according to CPJ.