De Cuba, first and only independent magazine in Cuba
Launched in 2002, De Cuba was the first independant magazine ever created under Fidel Castro’s rule. It was revived as a bimonthly in 2002 by Ricardo González Alfonso, who managed to publish two issues before being arrested and sentenced to 20 years in prison on 7 April 2003.During the 1990s, a so-called “Special Period” that included a limited opening-up to the outside world, small independent news agencies emerged and began to circulate news and information outside of the government’s traditional control. A former state TV journalist, González was the joint editor of one of these independent news agencies, called Cuba Press. These new independent journalists could not however print newspapers or magazines as access to printing presses is strictly regulated and individual print publications are illegal.
González managed to overcome these obstacles and bring out the first issue of De Cuba in December 2002. A substantial, many-paged magazine intended to appear every two months, it had to content itself with being circulated clandestinely within dissident circles. But readers were interested. It tackled subjects ignored by the government media, such as racism in Cuba and the Varela Project, a campaign launched in 2002 by the dissident Oswaldo Payá, a Sakharov Prize laureate, which collected 11,000 signatures to a petition for constitutional amendments aimed at bringing about democratic change. (Payá died in a car crash on 22 July 2012.)
The combination of the Varela Project and De Cuba was too much for a government that does not readily tolerate protests. A second issue appeared in February 2003 and third was being prepared when the regime finally brought the period of limited freedoms to an end. González was one of the 75 dissidents arrested in the course of the “Black Spring” that began on 18 March 2003. Convicted on charges of spying and “activities against Cuba’s independence and territorial integrity,” he was finally released on 13 July 2010 in exchange for agreeing to go into exile. He now lives in Madrid. Reporters Without Borders is posting the two entire issues of De Cuba.