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Cuba: Where's the (Press) Freedom?

Categories: Caribbean, Cuba, Citizen Media, Digital Activism, Freedom of Speech, Human Rights, Media & Journalism, Migration & Immigration, Politics, Protest, Technology

Today is World Press Freedom Day [1] – but in the Caribbean blogosphere, a handful of Cuban diaspora bloggers are the only ones talking about it.

Notes from the Cuban Exile Quarter [2] provides some background on the day itself, explaining:

The United Nations [1] declared May 3 World Press Freedom Day on December 20, 1993 [3] to raise awareness on the importance of a free press and to remind governments of their obligation to respect and uphold the right of freedom of expression recognized under Article 19 [4] of the Universal Declarationof Human Rights [5]. The date of May 3 was selected to mark the anniversary of the Declaration of Windhoek [6], a statement of free press principles agreed on by African journalists at a UNESCO [1] seminar, “Promoting an Independent and Pluralistic African Press,” [7] held in Windhoek, Namibia, from April 29 to May 3, 1991; it was later endorsed by the UNESCO General Conference.

The Coalition of Cuban-American Women posted a link on its blog [8] to this report [9] by the Committee to Protect Journalists, which lists Cuba as one of the most censored countries. In a later post [10], it draws attention to Cuban blogger and independent journalist, Luis Felipe Rojas, who is featured in an Amnesty International article [11].

Notes from the Cuban Exile Quarter also takes note of the report [12] by the Committee to Protect Journalists, saying:

The dictatorship in Cuba came in ninth place, but also at least three out of the four worse (sic) are close allies of the Castro brothers.

babalu [13], meanwhile, notes that:

340 politically motivated arrests in Cuba were documented by the Cuban independent news agency CIHPRESS during the month of April. This brings the total number of political arrests on the island documented by the agency this year to 1,915. At this current pace, the Castro dictatorship is set to carry out almost 6,000 arrests by the end of year, almost double the number of the arrests that took place in 2011.

And in a “toast to freedom on World Press Freedom Day”, Notes from the Exile Quarter [14] posts a video [15] in honour of all imprisoned journalists, and blogs about some of Cuba's prisoners of conscience:

Fifty years ago, on May 28, 1961 [16] Amnesty International was formed because two Portuguese students were imprisoned for seven years for raising a toast to freedom [17]. Today, in Cuba men and women are locked away for speaking up for freedom and marching for it. Journalists are harassed, detained and imprisoned for attempting to exercise their fundamental right to free speech, one of them is Luis Felipe Rojas [18]. Others are found in the ‘Hablemos Press’ [19] Information Centre. In honor of them, on World Press Freedom Day [20] this…is dedicated to them: A Toast to Freedom.