El Salvador Welcomes Persecuted Cuban Journalists

Salvadoran President Nayib Bukele delivers a speech on the first day of inoculation with the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine against COVID-19 to health workers in San Salvador, on February 17, 2021. (Photo by MARVIN RECINOS / AFP) (Photo by MARVIN RECINOS/AFP via Getty Images)
MARVIN RECINOS/AFP via Getty Images

El Salvador allowed two Cuban reporters to enter the Central American country on Wednesday after the men said they learned they would be denied entry to Nicaragua, their intended destination, while on a layover at an airport outside San Salvador on Tuesday, El Salvador’s General Directorate of Migration confirmed.

“The Government of the [El Salvadoran] President @nayibbukele through the General Directorate of Migration and Foreigners, admitted the entry to El Salvador of two Cuban journalists exiled from their country,” the ministry wrote in a statement posted by its official Twitter account January 5.

The statement said the Cuban nationals were receiving “humanitarian assistance” at a hotel in San Salvador “while their immigration status is being defined.”

“Hector Valdez and Esteban Rodriguez, reporters for independent news website ADN Cuba, said on social media that they arrived at El Salvador’s main international airport on Tuesday night [January 4],” Deutsche Welle (DW) reported January 5.

The two men said they “intended to board a flight to Nicaragua but were told authorities in Managua had prohibited their entry,” according to the German public broadcaster. DW operates a Latin America bureau and interviewed the Cubans at El Salvador’s main international airport, San Óscar Arnulfo Romero, on Wednesday.

Valdez and Rodriguez said they were stranded at the airport — located 27 miles south of San Salvador — for 36 hours prior to the intervention of President Bukele’s government on January 5, La Prensa Gráfica, a Salvadoran newspaper, reported.

“Nicaragua does not accept us and today we are in a migratory limbo,” Valdes wrote in a statement posted by his personal Twitter account on January 4.

“Valdés … explained on his Facebook page that they arrived in El Salvador after the Cuban government allegedly ‘forced’ them to ‘make the decision to leave our country,'” DW observed January 5.

“Valdez and Rodriguez were associated with the San Isidro Movement, a group of a few dozen artists, writers and activists that had for years protested restrictions in Cuba on civil liberties,” Reuters reported January 5.

“Rodriguez was arrested in April [2021], he said, following a protest in support of jailed San Isidro leader Luis Manuel Otero Alcantara, who was on hunger strike at the time,” the news agency revealed.

Some of the San Isidro group’s members “have now either left Cuba, are under house arrest or in jail,” Reuters reported January 5.

Valdez and Rodriguez both claimed to have been exiled from Cuba shortly before their travel mishap on January 4. The men are among hundreds of dissidents the regime has recently threatened to kill if they did not depart the country. A report published by a coalition of human rights organizations in June 2019 said Cuba’s Communist officials have “violently forced or threatened to force ‘hundreds’ of political dissidents into exile, in many cases buying them plane tickets and taking them to the airport at gunpoint,” Breitbart News reported at the time.

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