Author Archives: Reporters Without Borders


May 3, 2017.

Original Report here:

A self-styled socialist republic with a single party, Cuba continues to be Latin America’s worst media freedom violator year after year. Fidel Castro’s death in 2016 effectively changed nothing. The Castro family, which has ruled since 1959, maintains an almost total media monopoly and tolerates no independent reporting.

Arbitrary arrests and imprisonment, threats, smear campaigns, confiscation of equipment, and closure of websites are the most common forms of harassment. These practices are ubiquitous and are buttressed by an arsenal of restrictive laws. Unless forced to flee the island to protect themselves or to keep working, the few independent bloggers and journalists must cope with drastic restrictions on Internet access.

December 2, 2016


Castro has been hailed as one of the leading figures of the 20th century and father of the Cuban people in many of the thousands of messages that followed the announcement of his death. But behind the revolutionary’s romantic image lay one of the world’s worst press freedom predators. The persecution of dissidents was one of the distinguishing features of his 49 years in power, and constitutes the harshest aspect of his heritage.

The current situation in Cuba speaks to this. Cuba continues to be one of the worst countries in Latin America for media freedom and ranks 171st out of 180 countries in RSF’s World Press Freedom Index. Fidel Castro’s brother Raúl, who replaced him in 2007, is now also on RSF’s press freedom predator list.

Cuba’s constitution permits only state-controlled media outlets. Independent news agencies and bloggers who try to dispute the state’s monopoly of news and information are subjected to intimidation, arbitrary arrest and draconian censorship.

As a result, independent news agencies have often had no choice but to go into exile and post their news reports online from abroad. This is far from ideal because Internet access within Cuba is still very problematic (only 5% of households have internet access).

Finally, with two journalists currently jailed, Cuba continues to be one of the few western hemisphere countries where reporters can still be found behind bars. Venezuela and Panama are the other two.

But the situation was much worse under Fidel Castro himself. The father of the Cuban revolution imposed a climate of censorship and used often violent methods to prevent the circulation of any news and information at variance with that provided by the state media.

The persecution peaked in 2003. In March of that year, the authorities arrested more than 75 dissidents including 27 journalists, who were given summary trials and sentences ranging from 14 to 27 years in prison for talking about democracy in Cuba.

They included RSF’s then correspondent, Ricardo González Alfonso, who ended up spending seven years in prison. There were several waves of arrests during this period, dubbed the “Black Spring.” Unauthorized journalists were targeted and accused of collaborating with the United States if their reporting referred to Cuba’s dissidents, human rights violations or the everyday lives of Cubans.

The persecution continued during the ensuing years and in 2007, when Fidel Castro was about to hand over to his brother, Cuba was the world’s second biggest prison for journalists, with a total of 25 held. Prison conditions were appalling and torture was often reported by the families of Cuba’s detained journalists and dissidents.

Many different methods were deployed against Cuba’s independent news providers including arbitrary arrests, beatings and phone tapping. But permanent censorship was one of the constants of the Castro years, both before and after the Black Spring.

Ever since its creation in 1985, RSF has constantly denounced these abuses, using awareness campaigns, protests and international mobilization. Several of our contributors and correspondents have been threatened or imprisoned. They include Roberto Guerra Pérez, who was sentenced to two years in prison in 2005 on a charge of disturbing public order and was released in 2007.

Guerra bravely continued his fight for media freedom, launching an independent news agency called Hablemos Press in 2009. But the Cuban police harassed him and his reporters and repeatedly prevented them from working. After receiving anonymous death threats, he had no choice but to go into exile in October 2016 in order to ensure his and his family’s safety.

The battle waged by RSF and many other local and international NGOs must go on so that exile is one day no longer inevitable. But for the time being, the day-to-day existence of Cuba’s journalists is still marked by fear and self-censorship.

Cuba’s journalists currrently fear that the father of the revolution’s death will be accompanied by a new crackdown. This must not be allowed to happen. Instead, it must open the way to a new era of pluralism and freedom of opinion.

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Reporters without Borders: WORLD PRESS FREEDOM INDEX 2015

logo-enUnfortunately Cuba continues to fare badly on the Reporters without Borders WORLD PRESS FREEDOM INDEX 2015.  It ranks # 169 out of a total of 178 countries, and well at the bottom for the Western Hemisphere. New Picture (2) For detail, see the Reporter’s without Borders 2015 Report: : Full Report:                 !/ Commentary on Cuba:

New Picture (4)

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Is Cuba heading towards a repeat of the 2003 Black Spring?

Original Here: Black Spring?

logo-enReporters Without Borders is worried about the situation of journalists in Cuba, where there have been cases of physical attacks, arbitrary detention, death threats and blocking of access to information in recent days.

Hablemos Press, an independent news agency and free speech NGO, has been directly targeted by the Internal Security Department. Police physically attacked its editor, Roberto de Jesús Guerra, in Havana on 11 June. According to his wife, Hablemos Press reporter Magaly Otero Suarez, he is currently immobilized at home with multiple injuries to the face and right foot.


Roberto de Jesús Guerra

A car ran down Raúl Ramirez Puig, a Hablemos Press correspondent in Mayabeque province, on 7 June. One of the two people in the car told him: “Anything can happen.”

Mario Hechavarría Driggs, who also works for Hablemos Press, was the latest victim of arbitrary arrest when Internal Security Department officials arrested him on 8 June. Journalism student Yeander Farrés Delgado was also arrested while photographing the capitol building in Havana (now the headquarters of the science, technology and environment ministry) and was held for five hours.

Although the Castro regime gives the appearance of opening up politically, the methods used by the authorities to silence dissident journalists are clearly becoming more and more brutal,” Reporters Without Borders secretary-general Christophe Deloire said. “The last of the journalists arrested in the Black Spring of 2003 was freed in 2011, but since then we have seen a gradual increase in repression.”

Hablemos Press reported on 11 June that it has received repeated telephone threats in the past two months. After taking several threatening calls on the Hablemos Press phone line, Otero was summoned by the Internal Security Department on 12 June, and told to moderate the tone of the agency’s articles, which have irritated the government.

The authorities have also gone so far as to disconnect the mobile phones of De Jesus Guerra, Otero and Arian Guerra, another Hablemos Press journalist, from Cuba’s sole mobile phone network, provided by state-owned ETECSA, to hamper their communications.

What happens to the right to information if the government blocks phone connections at will and Internet use is extremely limited in Cuba?” said Camille Soulier, the head of the Reporters Without Borders Americas desk. “We call on the Cuban authorities to restore the phone connections of Hablemos Press’ journalists without delay.

Reporters Without Borders also condemns the conditions in which the authorities have been holding the independent journalist Juliet Michelena Díaz in Havana since 7 April without any court decision in her case. She was initially accused of threatening a neighbour, but the charge was changed to “terrorism” within a week of her arrest.

Yayabo Press journalist Yoenni de Jesus Guerra García has meanwhile been held since October 2013 and was given a seven-year jail term in March. And the blogger Ángel Santiesteban-Prats, one of the 100 “information heroes” profiled by RWB in May, has been held on trumped-up charges since February 2013.

Cuba is ranked 170th out of 180 countries in the 2014 Reporters Without Borders press freedom index. This is the lowest ranking of any country in the western hemisphere.


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Reporters Without Borders: “CELAC presidency means Cuba must guarantee basic freedoms”

Published on Monday 11 February 2013. Press Release

President Raúl Castro Ruz

Head of Cuba’s Council of State

Chairman of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC)

Dear President Castro,

When you were sworn in as chairman of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) for one year at the end of the recent CELAC summit in the Chilean capital of Santiago, you undertook to act “with total respect for international law, the United Nations charter and the fundamental principles governing relations between countries.” In your 28 January speech, you also declared your intention to reject “interference, aggression, threats and use of force” and to promote “dialogue.”

Reporters Without Borders, an international organization that defends freedom of information, hopes that these undertakings will quickly be given concrete expression in your own country. Cuba’s legitimate desire to participate in the process of regional integration and the desire for openness seen in certain reforms currently under way need to be accompanied by long-awaited progress in respect for fundamental freedoms

The migration law reform that took effect on 14 January is a major step forward. It means that Cubans who want to travel abroad no longer need an exit permit and are guaranteed the right to return. It must be applied to all citizens without distinction. The blogger Yoani Sánchez, who has obtained a passport, must be allowed to return at the end of the regional trip she plans to begin soon. The door should also be open for all the journalists and dissidents who want to come back after being forced into exile, and for all those in Cuba who would now like to travel. The dialogue you seek makes this promise imperative.

Releases pending

This dialogue will only be possible if Cuba stops cracking down on citizens “guilty” of providing domestic news coverage that is not controlled by the state. The authorities must abolish this control at once, recognize diverse news reporting and release all those who have been unjustly imprisoned. Your stated desire to comply with international law and the UN charter means that your government must now urgently ratify the two UN conventions on civil and political rights that it signed in 2008. And several dramatic situations can be resolved without waiting a moment longer.

Hablemos Press reporter Calixto Ramón Martínez Arias, who has been held for nearly five months, is facing a possible three-year jail term for “insulting the head of state.” In fact, this independent journalist is being punished for publishing information about cholera and dengue epidemics that was eventually confirmed by the government.

Luis Antonio Torres, a journalist employed by the state-owned daily Granma, was sentenced to 14 years in prison in July 2012 on unsubstantiated spying charges after reporting information of public interest about the negative consequences of certain infrastructural projects. Is talking about embarrassing facts tantamount to conspiracy against the state?

We are similarly concerned about Ángel Santiesteban-Prats, a recognized writer and intellectual and winner of various prizes, who was sentenced to five years in prison on 8 December on trumped-up charges of “home violation” and “injuries” after a trial with bribed witnesses. All he did was criticize your government on his blog. He could be arrested to begin serving his sentence at any moment.

Finally, Reporters Without Borders, has learned that the independent journalist Héctor Julio Cedeño was arrested in Havana on 5 February just for photographing state inspectors harassing street vendors, and that he is still being held. Does this kind of obstruction and persecution really help the critical debate you advocate?

Internet still held up despite ALBA-1

Information is needed to underpin the exchange of ideas and opinions that makes a society live and evolve. This is why Internet progress should benefit all Cubans. The ALBA-1 submarine cable linking Cuba to Venezuela, which recently came into service, now makes it possible to overcome the limitations on Internet connections.

You have often blamed these limitations on the impossibility of using other cables because of the embargo of Cuba that the United States has imposed since 1962, an embargo whose lifting we have repeatedly requested. Our position on this is unchanged. The ALBA-1 cable must now be used for all Cubans to have unimpeded access to the Internet.

We thank you in advance for the attention you give to this letter.


Christophe Deloire

Reporters Without Borders secretary-general

Photo from Prensa Latina; Raul Defending  Liberty with CELAC

Sebastian Pinera, President of Chile, handing over to Raul

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Reporters Without Borders: Again Cuba’s “Freedom of the Press” is the Worst in the Henmisphere

No surprises here. Once again, Cuba unfortunately comes last in the Hemisphere in a ranking regarding human rights. In this case. Reporters without Borders annual Freedom of the Press Report for 2011 comes to the conclusion that observers of Cuba are familiar with, namely that freedom of expression in Cuba exists only in the minds of the members of the Politburo of the  Central Committee of the Communist Party of Cuba.

The full report can be found here: Reporters without Borders, Press Freedom Index, 2011-2012. The Website for the Report is here: The Reporters without Borders coverage on Cuba is here: Cuba Page.

Below is a quick summary of the methodology used by RWB for the calculation of its index.

“The ranking reflects the situation during a specific period. This year’s index takes account of events between 1 December 2010 and 30 November 2011. It does not look at human rights violations in general, just press freedom violations.

To compile this index, Reporters Without Borders prepared a questionnaire with 44 main criteria indicative of the state of press freedom. It asks questions about every kind of violation directly affecting journalists and netizens (including murders, imprisonment, physical attacks and threats) and news media (censorship, confiscation of newspaper issues, searches and harassment). And it establishes the degree of impunity enjoyed by those responsible for these press freedom violations. It also measures the level of self-censorship in each country and the ability of the media to investigate and criticize. Financial pressure, which is increasingly common, is also assessed and incorporated into the final score.

The questionnaire takes account of the legal framework for the media (including penalties for press offences, the existence of a state monopoly for certain kinds of media and how the media are regulated) and the level of independence of the public media. It also reflects violations of the free flow of information on the Internet.

Reporters Without Borders has taken account not only of abuses attributable to the state, but also those by armed militias, clandestine organizations and pressure groups.”


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Politics and Human Rights


Raúl Castro, Closing speech at the 1st Cuba-Venezuela Presidential Summit,  Granma International, July 27 2010

Dalia Acosta entrevista a MARIELA CASTRO ESPÍN, “CUBA: Otro socialismo posible”, Agencia de Noticias, Inter Press Service, 3 de Julio, 2009

Dalia Acosta, “POLÍTICA-CUBA: Video muestra perfil estricto de Raúl Castro”, Agencia de Noticias, Inter Press Service, 29 de Junio, 2009

OFFICIAL NOTE FROM THE COUNCIL OF STATE, Agrees on movement of cadres and reorganization of agencies, Granma Digital, March 2, 2009

Editorial, “El desafío del momento presente”, Revista Espacio Laical N°1-2009, (Febrero 2009. No. 58)

Orlando MÁRQUEZ, “¿La hora del cambio?” Palabra Nueva, No. 182, Febrero de 2009

Freedom House, Special Report, nother “Special Period” in Cuba? How Citizens View Their Country’s Future, March 25, 2009

International Republican Institute, Survey of Cuban Public Opinion March 14 to April 12, 2008, June 5, 2008

Haroldo Dilla, “La elite política y los cambios: La intuición del límite”, Kaos en la Red, Agosto 11 de 2008

Leonel González y Carlos Díaz, “La necesaria contraofensiva de los trabajadores”, Kaos en la Red, Junio 18 de 2008

Manuel Cuesta Morúa, “Cuba: Democracy for a Possible Nation“, WP 30/2008, (Translated from Spanish) Real Instituto Elcano, Madrid,16/9/2008

Pedro Campos y varios compañeros, “Presentación para su discusión pública al pueblo, a los trabajadores y a los revolucionarios cubanos, con miras al VI Congreso del Partido Comunista de Cuba”, Kaos en la Red, 17-8-2008

Eusebio Mujal-León and Lorena Buzón, “EXCEPTIONALISM AND BEYOND: CIVIL-MILITARY RELATIONS IN CUBA, 1986–2008”, Cuba in Transition, ASCE 2009

Jorge Dominguez, “Cuba’s Civil-Military Relations in Comparative Perspective: Looking Ahead to a Democratic Regime,” in Looking Forward: Comparative Perspectives on Cuba’s Transition, ed. Marifeli Pérez-Stable (Notre Dame: University of Notre Press, 2007): 47-71

James Petras and Robin Eastman-Abaya, “Cuba: Continuing Revolution and Contemporary Contradictions, Dissident Voices”, August 13th, 2007

Government of Cuba, Ministry of Foreign Relations, The Cuban political and electoral system, Havana, undated


Human Rights

Open Letter Condemning Recent Obstructions and Prohibitions of Social and Cultural Initiatives – Observatorio Crítico

Human Rights Watch, New Castro, Same Cuba, Political Prisoners in the Post-Fidel Era, November 18, 2009

Human Rights Watch, World Report 2009, Country Summary: Cuba, January 2009

Reporters Without Borders, 2008 Annual Report, (pp. 45-46. for report on Cuba)

Freedom House, Freedom in the World, 2009, Special Report Section, Freedom on the Net: A Global Assessment of Internet and Digital Media: Cuba, April, 2009


Freedom House, Freedom in the World, Country Report, Cuba, 2008

Tomas Pstross, The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic, The Concept of Human Rights in Foreign Policy. An analytical and methodological study (with special reference to Cuba, Date: 2004/04

Human Rights Watch, CUBA’S REPRESSIVE MACHINERY: Human Rights Forty Years After the Revolution, June 1999

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