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Cuba revokes Spain's EFE news agency credentials

November 14, 2021

The move comes ahead of planned anti-government demonstrations by the opposition calling for the release of political prisoners.

A building in Havana decorated with an image of Fidel Castro and a Cuban flag
Anti-government protests, which are prohibited by the communist authorities, are expected on Monday Image: Ramon Espinosa/AP/picture alliance

Cuban authorities on Saturday revoked the credentials of journalists working for the Spanish news agency EFE, its local editor-in-chief said.  

Atahualpa Amerise, head of EFE's Cuba bureau, said authorities didn't provide "the exact reason" why they would be barred from reporting.

"When we asked why, they pointed to the regulations on foreign press," Amerise said. "They haven't told us whether it's temporary or permanent," he added.

Amerise said it was the first time such an order had been given to a foreign press office in Cuba.

It is reportedly not clear whether the ban is temporary or permanent.

Two journalists were able to get their accreditations back following negotiations, Amerise said.

The decision to revoke the journalists' credentials comes a month and a half after the accreditation of EFE's editorial coordinator in Havana was withdrawn.

EFE's local bureau has three editors, a photographer and a videographer.

What happened to Cuba's protest movement?

The president of EFE, Gabriela Canas, said she hoped that the Cuban government would "reconsider" returning the press accreditations.

"EFE is an objective and responsible media [entity] that has been reporting on the island for more than 40 years and does not understand the reasons for this measure," Canas wrote on Twitter.

Spain summons Cuba's top Madrid official

The Spanish Foreign Ministry on Sunday said it was contacting their Cuban charge d'affaires to demand an explanation for Havana taking the action.

In addition, the Spanish embassy in Havana was said to be working with the Cuban authorities for the return of the journalists' credentials.

The European Union and Amnesty International also criticized the move by Cuba. 

The EU called on Havana to ensure freedom of speech and freedom of the press, and to restore all authorizations and credentials to EFE, a spokesperson said in Brussels on Sunday evening.

"Foreign correspondents play an important role in promoting international understanding and contributing to the openness of societies," the EU statement added.

Cuba protests over political prisoners

Planned anti-government demonstrations by the opposition are due on Monday.

The protests are aimed at putting pressure on the government to release political prisoners.

Cuban officials, however, deny the existence of political prisoners in the country. They consider the opposition illegitimate and allege it is financed by the United States.

The rallies are planned to take place on the same day Cuba, hard hit by the coronavirus pandemic and the US embargo, reopens its borders to international visitors.

In July, unprecedented street protests rocked Cuba as people took the streets shouting "freedom" and "we are hungry."

The protests left one person dead, dozens of injured and 1,175 arrested. Half are still in jail, says the human rights group Cubalex.

sri/fb (AFP, EFE, Reuters)