The journalist Camila Acosta was released this Friday around 10:30 in the morning (local time, 4:30 in the afternoon in Spain), as she herself confirmed to this newspaper, minutes after leaving the Diez de Octubre and Acosta police station , where she was detained for the last 64 hours, of the 96 that she has been deprived of liberty. “Right now they just released me,” confirmed the journalist, visibly euphoric by what she has seen and what she has experienced during these days of imprisonment. The ABC correspondent in Havana is now under house arrest, as she was informed before leaving the police facilities. “It will be six months, as long as the investigation lasts,” he clarifies. You can only go out to buy what you need, “and not go near an airport because that would be understood as an illegal departure from the country.” The journalist has been ‘regulated’ for more than a year and cannot leave the island.
Camila Acosta’s arrest has sparked a wave of solidarity and requests for liberation from all sectors, from the world of culture and communication to politics. The Spanish Foreign Ministry has been on the matter from day one and the minister himself, José Manuel Albares, has personally handled part of the negotiations with the Cuban authorities.
Acosta was arrested last Monday for recording the protests that took place on Sunday in Havana, and that had taken place before in other cities on the island caused by the economic and health crisis that the country is suffering, as well as the lack of freedoms. As confirmed by his father, Orlando acostaTwo days after her arrest, the regime’s intention was to prosecute her for the crimes of “contempt” and “public disorder”, having recorded videos during the demonstrations, and for, according to them, instigating them.
Camila herself explained to this newspaper that before releasing her, the instructor demanded that she sign a document accepting the charge of “public disorder”, which carries the sanction of a fine. «I have refused because I had not committed any crime. Just go to the demonstration to cover it, because I was a journalist.
Regarding the days she has spent in seclusion, she affirms that she was “calm. I didn’t feel like I was wasting my time. I have interviewed many people who also brought to my center. Can’t imagine how many people have been arrested, and beaten. Beating even minors. And I said, this is the reason why God put me here, to interview these people. I have to tell this.
Camila has not suffered physical abuse, “within what is possible, because in there that is a concentration camp. Hygiene was lousy. In the first detention center, where he spent 32 hours, he did not share a cell. There he refused to eat for the first few hours “until the charges were brought to my attention. Then they transferred me.
The journalist was arrested on Monday when she was accompanying her father to undergo a PCR test because she planned to fly back to the United States, where she resides, precisely this Friday. On the way they were intercepted by three State Security agents, as Orlando Acosta explained to this newspaper a few hours later. That day he was transferred to the police unit located in Infanta and Manglar, where he could not receive a visit from any family member, brandishing an order from the Ministry of Health that prohibits access to the cells following anti-Covid protocols. nor make calls. Nor was she assisted by any lawyer. The next, the father returned to the police station with personal items for Camila, and Orlando was informed that he was no longer there.
Camila had been transferred to the Diez de Octubre and Acosta police station, although her father was initially informed that she was at 100 and Aldabó. This shows the chaos and anguish suffered by dozens of parents who cannot locate their children among the hundreds of detainees during the protests.
In this new confinement, where she was unable to receive visits or make calls, she shared a cell with other detainees, in a space occupied by six bunk beds and with a latrine. The place was infested “with mosquitoes and it was very hot.” None wore a mask, having been subjected to an antigen test before entering the cell.
Two daily interrogations
Once in Diez de Octubre, Camila, aware of the charges, decided to start eating: “I knew that the investigation could last up to seven days and I needed to stay focused and feed myself.” Regarding the interrogations, she assures that “at no time did I feel intimidated, I was very sure of what I was doing. It was they who were committing an injustice.
What is the most terrible thing that you have experienced in the last hours?
It has been knowing the experiences of the inmates. There was a mother with her two daughters, who were arrested on the day of the demonstration and severely beaten. Some of the bruises could still be seen. Among the detainees were other women who had approached the site of the protests out of curiosity and had been arrested, and their families did not know where they were. A pregnant woman was also there, who asked for medical attention but was denied it. They gave it to him the moment they put it in my cell. They were very concerned about what I could tell about the conditions of this site.
Were they aware that you were going to tell, once you were outside, what was going on inside?
I told him when they applied the sanction of house arrest, with the intention that he would not speak. I told them to return me to the cell because I was going to go back to the street, and if there was another demonstration I was going to report back.
How many interrogations have you had during these days?
As of this Wednesday there were around two newspapers, over an hour long, in which they asked me about my profession, my family, the demonstration I attended … I recognized that I went and that I recorded, and I did a live for CubaNet. They tried to underestimate me, saying that I was not important, that I was not a journalist, that I was practicing the profession illegally, that I did not have a contract with ABC and CubaNet, and that even these media had denied that I worked with them. That ABC had said that it had no correspondent in Havana. But I knew it wasn’t true, because I’m not new to interrogation. I know I have to interpret the opposite of everything they say. They also pressured me to agree and sign committing to pay the fine, which I did not do, and for that reason they applied house arrest to me. Something that I also refused to sign. The only thing I signed was the certificate of my release.
Have you ever been afraid?
Honestly no. But it is true that at a certain moment, every time new inmates were brought in, I doubted them because I know, from interviews with other people, that they sometimes send inmates to beat up (that was the case of the opposition José Daniel Ferrer in the past year, how long he was imprisoned for six months, according to what he himself related when he left prison). I took great care of that. During the interrogations, I answered everything they asked me, but they described me as a liar, a manipulator.
Is this experience going to discourage you from continuing to report independently on what is happening in Cuba?
Of course not. Reporting is not a crime. I am going to continue exercising my profession. I will not stop reporting. We must continue to report because many people are still detained, and their families do not know where they are. I wanted to be imprisoned, because it was a unique opportunity to know what was happening inside, all the stories. But I knew, when they tried to agree with me, that the pressure outside was very strong.
Acosta affirms that he will not pay the fine that they want to impose “until they return all the things that They have stolen from me – two computers, telephones, a tablet, money, books …», During the search of the house from which he had just been evicted. “I will think about whether to pay the fine, because I have not committed any crime,” he insists over and over again.
Camila Acosta has not been the only journalist who has been released from prison in recent hours. The independent media CubaNet reported this Thursday of the release of two of its collaborators, Niober García Fournier and Rolando Rodríguez Lobaina, after spending more than two days in detention in the province of Guantánamo for covering the protests against the regime that broke out on July 11. According to the independent media, both have been fined 3,000 pesos.