‘I have the human right to free speech,’ says writer detained by Cuba

When an electrician in Cuba reported on Twitter that a video had been posted on the government’s news channel, reiterating Cuba’s ban on criticism, he was reportedly summarily arrested and detained. Five months later,…

‘I have the human right to free speech,’ says writer detained by Cuba

When an electrician in Cuba reported on Twitter that a video had been posted on the government’s news channel, reiterating Cuba’s ban on criticism, he was reportedly summarily arrested and detained. Five months later, the journalist Rodrigo Arriagada is still in detention, along with 14 fellow journalists. They were tried on charges of sedition and could face up to 15 years in prison.

Arriagada’s arrest has garnered attention in a year that has seen increased domestic expression, an obvious response to President Trump’s crackdown on dissidents who are typically stifled by censors and laws. But few protesters expect Arriagada to turn himself in, for fear of a similar treatment.

“I’m not worried about what is going to happen to me,” he said, addressing concerns from family members he had tried to warn before his arrest. “The problem here is about free speech and politics. We need to understand that freedom of expression is not about being frightened.

“I have the human right to free speech. I don’t have any fear here.”

As the New York Times noted in an editorial, “the dilemma is not simply where Mr. Arriagada goes next, but how he can express himself.”

It is also uncertain how Arriagada could offer commentary on the Cuban government and its restrictive policies. Today, Cuban journalists struggle daily to report on issues that contradict the Communist Party’s line, carrying a heavy burden of censorship.

Even before his arrest, Arriagada had effectively become what many fear is the real risk for dissidents who have no direct access to the outside world. Today, since Cuba remains in a state of crisis, it is a brave stand for the solace of once forbidden or violently suppressed thoughts.

Read the full story at The New York Times.

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