Cuban independent journalist, Yoel “Yoe” Suárez, received a summons to present himself at the Miramar Police Station on March 12, the latest development in an ongoing campaign of harassment against him and his family by the Cuban authorities.
The interrogation at the Miramar police station in Havana lasted 35 minutes and was conducted by a new sector head who identified himself as Captain Pinheiro. During the interrogation, Suárez was asked detailed questions about his family and work. He was also asked about his previous interactions with State Security counterintelligence officials. Suárez replied that he had been summoned on various occasions because of his work as an independent journalist and his social media posts covering the situation in Cuba.
Captain Pinheiro warned Suárez on several occasions to consider the negative consequences that his work could bring to his family. He also explained that the police intervene to issue official summons to “control the citizens” based on the information they receive from other state “entities” within the Ministry of Interior such as the Department of State Security, which carries out surveillance on human rights defenders who criticize the government.
In Cuba, it is common for individuals who are publicly critical of the government and its policies to receive summons signed by local authorities such as the National Revolutionary Police or the Public Prosecutors office. However, the order to target individuals typically originates from the State Security Counterintelligence team. The interrogations themselves are commonly conducted with a State Security agent present.
The summons and interrogation on March 12 mark the second time Suárez has been targeted in this way in less than two months. It comes after his wife, Maria Antonieta Colunga Olivera, was summoned and interrogated March 1 because of her husband’s work.
CSW Head of Advocacy Anna Lee Stangl said, “Once again the Cuban authorities have targeted Yoe Suárez with harassment and interrogation, simply because he is willing to speak up about the situation of human rights, including freedom of religion or belief, on the island. CSW continues to call on Cuba to cease all harassment of Mr. Suárez and his family, and to allow its citizens to practice the free exercise of their fundamental human rights.”