HAVANA – Cuban journalist Reinaldo Escobar, husband of blogger Yoani Sanchez, reported Saturday on his own blog that he was the victim of a beating, which bears out a similar complaint made by his wife two weeks ago.
Escobar said that “a swarm of people yelled at, struck and spit on a man (himself) punctually on his way to an appointment” on a Havana street corner.
The appointment that he mentioned was a “verbal duel” to which he had challenged a state security agent on his blog, whom he accused of attacking Sanchez two weeks before when she was going with other bloggers to a non-violence demonstration.
“Seldom can one crime be proved by the committing of another,” Escobar said, adding that “those who doubted that Yoani Sanchez was struck by the henchmen of state security” should see the pictures of what happened on Friday.
Sanchez said on Nov. 7 that she was walking down a street in Havana with other bloggers when they were stopped by state security agents who asked them to go with them, which they refused to do and demanded that the cops show them the arrest warrants.
In response to the bloggers’ resistance, the police forced them into two vehicles and mistreated them “physically and verbally” before dropping them off in another part of the city 20 minutes later, Sanchez said.
The police procedure was similar to that frequently applied to political dissidents, which the outlawed Cuban Commission on Human Rights and National Reconciliation calls “low intensity repression.”
“I had double luck,” Escobar said, “on the one hand, the foreign press was filming the whole thing (they were also knocked around), and on the other, I took less of a beating because an unexpected shield of ‘friends’ took some of the blows for me. Will they now demand medical certificates?” he asked.
According to another version issued to the foreign press by an office of the Cuban Foreign Ministry, Escobar “tried to break up the closing ceremony of the University Book and Reading Fair” in Havana “but the game went badly for him.”
“Cubans are tired of so much provocation and to a conga rhythm the young people taking part in the event began to cry out spontaneously ‘This street is revolutionary!’ and ‘Down with the worms!’ and ‘Raul, for sure, be tough on Yankees,’” the official version said.
“What is odd about the incident,” it continued, “is that the security agents that Yoani Sanchez has denounced so often for presumed aggression and harassment had to be the ones to save her husband so he wouldn’t suffer the anger of a people who are tired of so much provocation.”
According to video images, a crowd began to surround and hit Escobar, who was removed from the place by the supposed agents.
With her blog “desdecuba.com/Generación Y”, Yoani Sanchez, 34, won Spain’s Ortega y Gasset digital journalism prize and the U.S. Maria Moors Cabot prize, among others that she has not been able to receive because she is barred by the authorities from leaving Cuba.