Tuesday, February 06, 2007

RSF on Cuba

Last week, Reporters Sans Frontieres released its annual survey of press freedom worldwide. The section of the report dealing with Cuba is especially interesting, if depressing:

Will defence minister and army commander Raúl Castro allow more basic freedoms after taking over from his ailing brother as acting president on 31 July 2006. So far the regime has continued hounding dissidents, especially independent journalists. Cuba is still the world’s second biggest prison for journalists. Two were freed in 2006 but this was quickly made up for by the jailing of two others, making a total of 24 being held.

(Emphasis added-DD)

Unfortunately, the number has since risen to 25.

The report also mentions two of Cuba's independent librarians. One of these men is José Ubaldo Izquierdo Hernández:

José Ubaldo Izquierdo Hernández, of the Grupo de Trabajo Decoro, was declared “unfit for detention” by a prison doctor because of his very poor health, but was not released. Normando Hernández González, head of the Colegio de Periodistas Independientes de Camagüey, was taken to hospital on 5 December with cellular tuberculosis and sent back to jail three weeks after. Juan Carlos Herrera Acosta, of APLO, and Fabio Prieto Llorente were repeatedly beaten by their guards. Alberto Gil Triay Casales, of the La Estrella Solitaria agency, who was given a seven-year prison sentence in November 2005 for “subversive propaganda,” went on hunger-strike in September.

Guillermo Farinas Hernandez is the other independent librarian cited by RSF.

Guillermo Fariñas Hernández, head of the Cubanacán Press agency in Santa Clara, staged several hunger-strikes to support his demand for all Cubans to be allowed free access to the Internet. He was awarded the Reporters Without Borders - Fondation de France Cyber-freedom Prize on 12 December.

The analysis of the Internet in Cuba is particularly revealing:

With less than 2 per cent of its population online, Cuba is one of the most backward Internet countries. An investigation carried out by Reporters Without Borders in October revealed that the Cuban government uses several levers to ensure that this medium is not used in a “counter-revolutionary” way. Firstly, it has more or less banned private Internet connections. To surf the Internet or check their e-mail, Cubans have to go to public access points such as Internet cafes, universities and “youth computer clubs” where their activity is more easily monitored. Secondly, the computers in all the Internet cafes and leading hotels contain software installed by the Cuban police that triggers an alert message whenever “subversive” key-words are spotted. The regime also ensures that there is no Internet access for dissidents and independent journalists, for whom communicating with people abroad is an ordeal. Finally, the government also relies on self-censorship. You can get 20 years in prison for writing “counter-revolutionary” articles for foreign websites. You can even get five years just for connecting to the Internet illegally. Few Internet users dare to run the risk of defying the regime’s censorship.

(Emphasis added-DD)

In short, there can be no doubt of the utter lack of intellectual freedom in Cuba today.

Link and background information courtesy of Steve Marquardt.


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