In one of the more shocking examples of the Cuban government’s crackdown on critics, a popular YouTuber and independent reporter, who goes by the name Dina Stars, was detained by Cuban government authorities during a live interview with a Spanish television show.
“A popular Cuban YouTuber was detained by government security forces on live television Tuesday morning as she was discussing the sweeping arrests of activists, protesters, and journalists,” National Public Radio reported Tuesday.
“Dina Stars was speaking live on Todo Es Mentira, a Spanish television news show when she said state security forces were knocking on her door and demanding she go with them to a Havana police station,” the outlet noted.
The incident was captured live, as one of Stars’ friends tried to keep cameras rolling during Stars’ interview and eventual arrest. The video, taken from a hiding spot, shows Stars talking to Cuban officials and then being carted off. Stars is in the upper right-hand corner of the panel.
Cuban state security forces detain independent journalist @DinaStars_ as she she was being interviewed live on TV by @martaflich of Spain. She has been covering the protests.#SOSCuba #PatriaYVida pic.twitter.com/2EgToHXDdq
— Giancarlo Sopo (@GiancarloSopo) July 13, 2021
Stars told the program’s host that she was likely being detained and that viewers should hold the Cuban government responsible for “anything that may happen to me.”
“I hold the government responsible for anything that may happen to me,” she said. “I have to go. They told me to accompany them.”
A separate video, also taken by someone in the house with Stars and uploaded to Twitter, shows Stars interacting directly with Cuban authorities and then leaving with them in a white police vehicle.
Here is the moment when Cuban state security forces attested independent journalist @Dinastars_.
— Giancarlo Sopo (@GiancarloSopo) July 13, 2021
NPR notes that Stars was at the pro-democracy protests on Sunday and that she uploaded videos of the demonstrations including “videos of herself, in which she criticized the nation’s leaders.”
“Stars has been actively covering the ongoing protests against Cuba’s government and the financial strains on Cubans, who are seeking access to healthcare and, in many protests, demanding government officials step down,” The Wrap added. “On Twitter, her bio translates to, ‘Behind every woman there is a story that makes her a warrior.’ She has 26,000 followers on that platform, 99,000 on Instagram, and 36,000 on YouTube.”
Late Tuesday, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), who has been vocal in advocating for the pro-democracy demonstrators in Cuba, called attention to the case.
“Independent journalist [Dina Stars] was live on the air today with a tv station in Spain when Cuban regime state security entered her home [and] ask that she come with them,” Rubio tweeted.
Independent journalist @Dinastars_ was live on the air today with a tv station in Spain when Cuban regime state security entered her home & ask that she come with them. #SosCuba #PatriaYVida pic.twitter.com/VV83uQViDw
— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) July 13, 2021
Star is now “one of about 148 people who have been detained or disappeared, including seven journalists, since a wave of anti-government protests erupted across dozens of Cuban cities on Sunday, according to Cubalex, a U.S.-based organization of human rights lawyers that is tracking the roundups with the help of journalists and social media posts.”
At least one person who took part in the protests is reportedly dead.
‘A 36-year-old man named by the state news agency as Diubis Laurencio Tejeda died during an anti-government protest on the outskirts of Havana on Monday, the interior ministry said,” according to France 24. ‘The ministry said it ‘mourns’ his death while the news agency said he had taken part in ‘disturbances.'”
One other reporter, Camila Acosta, who reports for a Spanish newspaper, but is based in Havana, was “reportedly taken from her home in Havana early Monday” after covering Sunday’s mass protests. The Cuban government told Spanish authorities that Acosta will be charged with “crimes against state security,” according to Reuters, which is tracking missing reporters.
“Spain defends the right to demonstrate freely and peacefully and asks the Cuban authorities to respect it. We unconditionally defend human rights,” Spain’s foreign minister, José Manuel Albares, said Tuesday.
Cuba’s San Isidro free speech movement is posting an ever-growing list of detainees to Twitter daily.
#ATENCIÓN#14Jul| Listado de detenidos/desaparecidos en desarrollo, tras las protestas pacíficas en #Cuba desde el 11 de julio del 2021.
Responsabilizamos a Miguel Diaz Canel y la policía política por la represión desplazada hacia la sociedad civil cubana. #SOSCuba 🧵1/2 pic.twitter.com/emNSbb4XJv
— Movimiento San Isidro (@Mov_sanisidro) July 14, 2021
“We hold Miguel Diaz Canel and the political police responsible for the repression against Cuban civil society,” the group said.
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