HAVANA — In the past several days, an anonymous individual sent dire threats to activists and media correspondents of the Cuban LGBTI+ community. The threats were sent as direct messages from a false Facebook profile, which was reported to Facebook and deactivated soon after.
The artist Nonardo Perea, known for his activism for the free expression and freedom to work of artists in Cuba, wrote about these threats the next day in a piece for the Havana Times, They Threaten Me with Death: “On Saturday, May 23rd, I received death threats on my Facebook account, and not only were they threats against me. The person, under a false identity, also threatened that something could happen to my family, and it would look like an accident, or a medical problem.”
Perea, who left Cuba under duress and now lives in Spain, also pointed out that those threatened “are all part of the LGTBIQ community, and we also actively work in [social media.]”
The writer and journalist Jorge Ángel Pérez, who collaborates with Cubanet Noticias (Cubanet News), also spoke out on Facebook, having been threatened by the same profile with violence and public scandal.
Yet another of those threatened, Yosmany Mayeta Labrada, an activist who left Cuba under duress and now lives in the United States, published screenshots of his exchange with the same false profile. The screenshots revealed homophobic and serophobic content similar to that used against Perea, who also published images of the death threats he received.
In the cases of both Perea and Mayeta, the harasser seemed to have information about the activists’ private lives.
Maykel González Vivero, director of Tremenda Nota, also spoke out after receiving threats. In a Facebook post and a Facebook Live broadcast, he shared that he had been “threatened with death for practicing [independent] journalism in Cuba.”
In the broadcast, transmitted from Havana on the afternoon of Saturday, May 23, González Vivero blamed the incident on an operative of Cuba’s State Security apparatus. Perea, in his piece for the Havana Times, blamed the Cuban government for greenlighting such harassment.
Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas, an internationally famous Cuban dissident, died in the summer of 2012 in a traffic accident.
The journalist also shared in the broadcast that he “truly felt they had private information about me. I’ve never before felt my life was threatened in Cuba, but for a false profile like this to have such information about me is very dangerous.”
Last year Tremenda Nota reported other incidents of homophobic cyber harassment of media figures.
Nelson Julio Álvarez Mairata, known for his YouTube channel Nexy J Show, spoke out after being arrested and accused of “disturbing the public order.”
“The State Security kept my cell phone and hacked all my accounts,” he told Tremenda Nota at the time.
His Facebook profile was plastered with homophobic material and pro-government propaganda until it was deactivated, having been reported hacked by his colleagues and LGBTI+ activists.