The bottom of the heap

Burma’s is a repressive, all-encompassing dictatorship, which complemented its recent crackdown on democracy protests, by clamping down on blogs and anything else that passes as a free press. As for all tyrants, the truth for Burma’s military dictators, is a mortal enemy.
But Burma is not quite Cuba, when it comes stifling a free press, according to Reporters Without Borders.
The press freedom organization on Tuesday released its annual index rating the level of press freedoms in 169 countries. Burma came in at 164.
Cuba ranked No. 165, the same as in 2006, when 168 countries were rated.
“A year and a half after raúl castro took over as acting president in Cuba, the predicted transition has in no way changed the human rights situation on the island,” RSF stated in its report. “After China, Cuba continues to be the world’s second largest prison for the press, with 24 journalists detained and subjected to very harsh prison conditions.” (Note: Based on my own research, I put the count at 29.)
Tyranny, no matter the language spoken by the tyrant, is a worldwide scourge, and as long as it stands in one country, it stands in all. Similarly, as RSF reports, that in Cuba, Burma and too many other countries, the free press is a target for the worst a dictator has to offer, means we are all a little less free.
The poor ratings are nothing new for Havana. Since RSF started the annual surveys in 2002, Cuba has ranked no higher than 7th from the bottom (2005).
Rounding out the bottom 5 this year were Iran, Turkmenistan, North Korea and Eritrea, which replaced North Korea as the worst place in the world for a free press.
One of my specialties, if you will, as a blogger, is writing about Cuba’s independent press, and the obstacles it has to overcome to tell the real stories of the real Cuba.
But I am saddened no less, by what happens to my journalistic colleagues elsewhere in the world, when doing the same job that I do, brings them prison time, or worse.
That’s why Cuba’s specific rating almost is irrelevant. What counts is the company it keeps at the bottom of RSF’s rankings each year.
At the bottom, is where you always will find tyranny.
For more on how RSF compiled the report, go here, and here.
Reporters Without Borders is one of the world’s most forceful advocates of the independent press in Cuba, especially those writers and editors in fidel castro’s gulag. Read its coverage of the situation on the island, here.
(Cross-posted at Uncommon Sense.)