Cuba’s press freedom ranking is the worst in the Americas. In this recent article, RSF noted:
The regime has an almost total monopoly on the circulation of news and information, using harsh laws and police harassment to gag independent and opposition media outlets. Cuban journalists who try to resist government control are subject to intimidation, threats, arbitrary arrest and the confiscation of their professional equipment.
“We urge François Hollande not to dodge the fundamental question of media freedom in Cuba during his talks with Raúl Castro,” said Emmanuel Colombié, the head of RSF’s Latin America desk. “The Castro government’s many attacks on Cuban journalists are unacceptable. France must use this visit to advance the debate about media pluralism and the protection of journalists in Cuba.”
The progressive lifting of the US embargo and the resumption of diplomatic relations with the United States, symbolized by Secretary of State John Kerry’s visit to Havana in August, have not resulted in any sign of improvement in the lot of Cuba’s journalists.
In fact, harassment of the opposition media has intensified in recent months. Reporters who cover the weekly protest march by the “Damas de Blanco” on Sundays are systematically arrested and held for several hours before being freed.
When Pope Francis visited Cuba in September, the secret police told opposition journalists and bloggers they would be arrested if they did not stay at home until the pope left.
Freedom of information is extremely limited in Cuba, which is ranked lower in the index than any other country in the Americas. The government tolerates no independent press. Internet access is restricted and tightly controlled. The authorities continue to cite the US embargo as the reason for the low Internet penetration but the activation of Cuba’s ALBA-1 fibre-optic cable with Venezuela proves that it has more to do with a political desire to control the Internet. In addition to the lack of media pluralism, outspoken journalists and bloggers are still subjected to threats, smears, arrest and arbitrary detention.
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