Spanish Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Albares on Tuesday called for the “immediate release” of a journalist working for the Spanish press in Cuba.
Camila Acosta, who has been covering the protests in Cuba for the conservative Spanish daily ABC, was detained on Monday.
According to ABC, she was arrested for “crimes against state security” — a charge often levied against dissidents.
“Today I witnessed violence and repression against peaceful protesters in Habana, the Cuban regime’s hatred and crude manipulations,” she tweeted on Monday, just before her arrest. “Now is the time to pressure them to step down. If we give in now, we will have many more years of dictatorship.”
According to the NGO Cubalex, at least 100 activists, protestors and journalists have been detained since thousands of citizens took to the street this weekend. They are protesting shortages of basic supplies, the government’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic and even the communist government itself.
Earlier on Tuesday, the Spanish Foreign Ministry released a more tepid statement, calling for the Cuban government to allow peaceful protests.
Now, Spain’s new foreign minister, who just took office on Monday, is already taking a slightly more aggressive tone.
“Spain defends the right to protest and asks the Cuban authorities to respect that. We defend human rights without conditions,” he wrote on Twitter, before demanding Acosta’s release.
Spain’s journalist association FAPE also released a statement condemning the behavior of Cuban officials. It said that they not only arrested Acosta in connection with the protests but also injured two other journalists, including Spanish photojournalist Ramon Espinosa.
“Journalists are usually harassed so they won’t share information which, without their work, would remain hidden,” said the statement.
Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel alleged that the US is behind the protests, with their embargo acting as “economic asphyxiation to provoke social outbursts” and manipulating citizens on social media.
According to local reports, Cuban authorities have blocked social media and other parts of the internet to try to quell the protests.
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