Cuba

2011


Blog   |   Cuba

Recalling Laura Pollán, leader of Cuba's Ladies in White

Pollán leads the Ladies in White in March 2011. (AP/Javier Galeano)

Cuban human rights defender Laura Pollán, who died Friday from respiratory complications at a Havana hospital, fought a mighty battle against the Cuban government for almost a decade. Pollán, 63, leaves behind her husband, the award-winning independent journalist Héctor Maseda Gutiérrez, and a daughter. She also leaves a legacy of determination, courage, and creativity. Her powerful belief in justice was ultimately rewarded when dozens of wrongly imprisoned dissidents and journalists, including her husband, were freed from prison over the last two years, in large part due to her efforts.

October 17, 2011 2:36 PM ET

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Alerts   |   Cuba

Cuba pulls veteran correspondent's credentials

New York, September 7, 2011--The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns the Cuban government's decision to not renew press credentials held by a 20-year veteran correspondent for the Spanish daily El País and radio network Cadena SER. Mauricio Vicent, whose access to official events had been restricted by the government for the past year, is now prohibited from reporting stories from Cuba, according to El País

September 7, 2011 3:48 PM ET

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Blog   |   Cuba

Assisting journalists in Cuba: Hurdles in prison and beyond

CPJ's Journalist Assistance program helped support the families of Cuban journalists held in jails like this one on the outskirts of Havana. (Reuters/Claudia Daut)

In mid-2006, CPJ's Journalist Assistance program began sending regular remittances to the families of independent Cuban journalists in prison. By CPJ's count, of the 29 journalists jailed during a massive crackdown in 2003, 24 were still in prison at the time--making Cuba the world's second-worst jailer of journalists in the world. The remittances, sent monthly, helped families cover travel expenses to the prisons--sometimes two days away on shabby buses--and basic maintenance for the jailed editors and reporters--ranging from food staples like rice and beans, to clothes, bowls and spoons, to aspirin and specialized medications, all unavailable behind bars. At the time, I was the Research Associate for the Americas program, and my job was to contact families and catalog urgency and needs.

Reports   |   Cuba, Spain

After the Black Spring, Cuba's new repression

When the last of 29 journalists jailed in a notorious 2003 crackdown was finally freed this year, it signaled to many the end of a dark era. But Cuban authorities are still persecuting independent journalists through arbitrary arrests, beatings, and intimidation. A CPJ special report by Karen Phillips

In Cuba, the Ladies in White were instrumental in drawing attention to the plight of political prisoners. Here, they hold a photo of Orlando Zapata Tamayo, who died in custody. (AP/Javier Galeano)

Reports   |   Cuba, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Iran, Journalist Assistance, Pakistan, Somalia, Sri Lanka, Syria

Journalists in exile 2011: Iran, Cuba drive out critics

Two of the world’s most repressive nations each forced at least 18 journalists to flee their homes in the past year. In exile, these journalists face enormous challenges. A CPJ special report by Elisabeth Witchel.

Newly freed Cuban detainees and their families in a bus after their arrival in Madrid. Exile was the price the detainees paid for their freedom. (AP/Victor R. Caivano)

Blog   |   Cuba, Eritrea, Haiti, Iran, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Zimbabwe

CPJ's exiled journalists survey: Behind the numbers

Berhane (Colin McConnell/Toronto Star)

In 2007, my colleague Karen Phillips suggested we do something to mark World Refugee Day. Initially planning to publish a brief statement, I set about reviewing our data for background, checking in with older journalist cases about their current situation and looking broadly for trends to highlight. As the number of cases began counting into the hundreds, it became clear that what we had was a new indicator of press freedom conditions. Today, we're marking our fifth year of publishing the CPJ survey of journalists in exile, which is based on 10 years of data on 649 cases. 

Blog   |   Cuba

From a Cuban youth movement, to journalism, to jail

I joined the political civilist youth movement in 1991. Curiously, what I remember most from that period is how my apprehensions led me to disguise myself with a hat and glasses when traveling from my town of Artemisa to Havana to meet with other activists. These feelings of fear, defenselessness, and even blame, are common to those who live in Cuba, stifled by oppression and numbed by endless totalitarian propaganda.

May 25, 2011 10:40 AM ET

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Reports   |   Belarus, Burma, China, Cuba, Egypt, Ethiopia, Iran, Russia, Syria, Tunisia

The 10 Tools of Online Oppressors

The world’s worst online oppressors are using an array of tactics, some reflecting astonishing levels of sophistication, others reminiscent of old-school techniques. From China’s high-level malware attacks to Syria’s brute-force imprisonments, this may be only the dawn of online oppression. A CPJ special report by Danny O’Brien

A security line outside Google's Beijing office. (AP/Andy Wong)

Reports   |   Belarus, Burma, China, Cuba, Egypt, Ethiopia, Iran, Multimedia, Russia, Syria, Tunisia

Audio Report: The 10 Tools of Online Oppressors




In our special report, "The 10 Tools of Online Oppressors," CPJ examines the 10 prevailing strategies of online oppression worldwide and the countries that have taken the lead in their use. In this accompanying podcast, CPJ Deputy Director Robert Mahoney notes that these strategies range from sophisticated cyber-attacks to traditional brute-force techniques. Listen to the podcast on the player above, or right click here to download an MP3. (2:47)

Read CPJ's special report, "The 10 Tools of Online Oppressors."

May 2, 2011 8:44 AM ET

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Alerts   |   Cuba

Journalists face arrest, intimidation during Party Congress

New York, April 20, 2011--The Committee to Protect Journalists is alarmed by a string of recent arrests of journalists from the Havana-based news outlet Centro de Información Hablemos Press, preventing them from reporting on the Communist Party Congress held in Havana this week. CPJ called on the Cuban government to cease its persistent harassment of independent journalists and allow them to report freely.

Alerts   |   Cuba

Ending dark era, Cuba frees last jailed journalist

Newly freed Cuban political prisoners arrive in Spain. (AFP/Pierre-Philippe Marcou)

New York, April 8, 2011--The Cuban government on Thursday released the last journalist remaining in its prisons, ending a dark, eight-year-long era in which the island nation was one of the world's worst jailers of the press, at one time imprisoning nearly 30 independent reporters and writers. The Committee to Protect Journalists expressed relief today that Albert Santiago Du Bouchet Hernández has been freed, a milestone in an intensive, international advocacy effort led by the Catholic Church, the Spanish government, and international press and human rights groups.

Blog   |   Cuba

Cuban journalist Fernández Saínz: I was a reporter in prison

Fernández Saínz reported the stories of his fellow prisoners from inside a jail like this one on the outskirts of Havana. (Reuters//Claudia Daut)

I went to prison for practicing independent journalism in Cuba. As soon as you get there, you must prepare yourself to narrate the horrors of the hellhole you've ended up in. And Cuban prisons are horrendous. But the horrors start not one step back in the penal tribunal, not two steps back with the police chief, but three steps back, with the Cuban penal code, which reflects the social decomposition of post-Soviet Cuba. The government's legal response to a wave of robberies (and to a similar wave of political unrest) is to make sentences more severe. Are they trying to punish the innocent? No, they want to "save the revolution," and since "the end justifies the means," toughness is expected from the police and from prosecutors, who are judged on their ability to quickly resolve cases; and from judges, who grow accustomed to handing down harsh sentences. In such a way, they get used to tough sentencing as they continue to lose their humanity.

Blog   |   Cuba

For Cuban blogger Sánchez, a government 'distinction'

Yoani Sánchez at home in Cuba. (Reuters)

Acclaimed Cuban blogger Yoani Sánchez has had her share of honors lately. Last year alone, her blogging, which offers a personal and critical view of life in Cuba, was honored by the Dutch Prince Claus Fund, the International Press Institute, and the Danish Centre for Political Studies. This week, Sánchez received a very different type of distinction--from the Cuban government. She was featured on Monday night's installment of "Las Razones de Cuba" (Cuban Reasons), a state-sponsored TV program and website that chronicles perceived threats to the government and singles out independent journalists as enemies of the state. 

March 25, 2011 12:28 PM ET

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Blog   |   Cuba

A not so dark Cuban Black Spring anniversary

From left: Carlos Lauría, Antonio Muñoz Molina, Raúl Rivero, and Fernando González Urbaneja at CPJ's Madrid presentation of its report on the Black Spring, in March 2008.

March 18 is not a day we usually look forward to at CPJ. On this day in 2003, the Cuban government launched a massive crackdown on the independent press resulting in the jailing of 29 reporters. But this year we have reason to feel encouraged. On March 4, with the release of Pedro Argüelles Morán, the last of the Black Spring journalists was released. 

Blog   |   Cuba

Cuban journalist survives 'hell' and emerges ready to fight

Héctor Maseda Gutiérrez walks free with his wife (right), while followed by government supporters jeering his release. (Reuters/Desmond Boylan)

On March 18, 2003, our people endured one of the worst episodes in Cuba's history. The peaceable political dissident community, human rights defenders, trade unionists, and independent journalists, along with representatives of the emergent and democratic civil society--74 men and one woman--were the victims of the most absolute, merciless, and cruel government power.

March 18, 2011 2:05 PM ET

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Blog   |   Cuba

A new spring, and a couple's devotion blossoms anew

Pollán and Maseda, their love still rooted, are together again. (AP/Franklin Reyes)

When I wake up and sense my husband's body next to mine, I ask myself if I'm dreaming or if it is true that he has returned to our home.

Eight years have passed since 75 Cubans were uprooted from their homes for thinking differently than the governmental discourse and having the courage to express it publicly. So many days and nights of agony and suffering for their parents, wives, children, and grandchildren; so much accumulated pain. But the important thing is that they couldn't uproot our love. Our love gave us the motivation needed to undertake a tenacious and constant fight for the release of our loved ones. 

Blog   |   Cuba

Moments before arrest in Cuba

José Luis García Paneque, center, at a news conference in Madrid in July, with other freed Cuban journalists. (Reuters/Andrea Comas)

On March 18, 2003, I got up early as usual, connected my shortwave radio receiver, and tuned into a number of radio stations in the south of Florida in search of the day's most important news. As always, the radio interference was brutal and made it hard to hear. Still, I had to make the effort to obtain even a minimum amount of information that, as an independent journalist, would permit me to counter the official news provided by the regime through our small news agency, Agencia Libertad. 

March 8, 2011 10:31 AM ET

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Alerts   |   Cuba

Last Black Spring reporter freed; one still jailed in Cuba

New York, March 7, 2011--The Committee to Protect Journalists welcomes the release of Cuban independent journalist Pedro Argüelles Morán on Friday, and calls on Cuban authorities to eliminate all conditions on his freedom. Argüelles Morán, at left, was the last of 29 reporters arrested during a 2003 massive government crackdown on dissent to be allowed to leave jail, on parole. 

March 7, 2011 3:13 PM ET

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Blog   |   Cuba

After 'trial by fire,' Cuba's Maseda back to journalism

Maseda holds a document proving his release from prison next to his wife, Laura Pollán. (AP/Franklin Reyes)

Almost three weeks after being released from jail following eight years of inhumane treatment in Cuba's infamous prison system, CPJ's 2008 International Press Freedom award winner Héctor Maseda Gutiérrez said he is committed to going back to independent journalism. "That's my will, and I have decided to do it here in Havana," Maseda said in a telephone conversation from Cuba's capital.

March 3, 2011 12:44 PM ET

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Alerts   |   Cuba

Cuban journalist released on parole; two remain behind bars

New York, February 22, 2011--Iván Hernández Carrillo, a Cuban journalist imprisoned since March 2003, was released on parole Saturday and permitted to remain in the country, bringing to 19 the number of reporters and editors freed after an agreement between the President Raúl Castro and the Catholic Church. The Committee to Protect Journalists called on Cuban authorities today to lift all conditions on Hernández Carrillo's release and to free the two journalists that remain imprisoned on the island.

February 22, 2011 4:42 PM ET

Attacks on the Press   |   Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Cuba, Ecuador, Haiti, Honduras, Mexico, USA, Venezuela

Attacks on the Press 2010: Americas Analysis

In Latin America, A Return of Censorship

The Venezuelan newspaper El Nacional leaves white space for an image the government won't allow. (Reuters/Jorge Silva)

By Carlos Lauría

As the preeminent political family in the northeastern state of Maranhão for more than 40 years, the Sarneys are used to getting their way in Brazilian civic life. So when the leading national daily O Estado de S. Paulo published allegations in June 2009 that linked José Sarney, the Senate president and the nation's former leader, to nepotism and corruption, the political clan did not sit idly by. The Sarneys turned to a judge in Brasília, winning an injunction that halted O Estado from publishing any more reports about the allegations. Eighteen months later, as 2010 came to a close, the ban remained in effect despite domestic and international outcry.

February 15, 2011 12:54 AM ET

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Attacks on the Press   |   Cuba

Attacks on the Press 2010: Cuba

Top Developments
• Cuba relents on political detainees, frees 17 journalists. Four still held.
• In exile, freed journalists face economic, professional difficulties.

Key Statistic
45: Poems that journalist and former detainee Ricardo González Alfonso smuggled from prison.


After years of intensive advocacy and international diplomacy, 17 independent journalists swept up in the government's 2003 Black Spring crackdown were finally freed from an unjust and inhumane imprisonment. The Roman Catholic Church, with participation from Spanish officials, struck an agreement in July with the government of President Raúl Castro Ruz that called for the release of all 52 prisoners still being held seven years after the massive crackdown on political dissent and independent journalism. The deal as outlined by the church called for the release of all Black Spring detainees within four months, but three journalists and several other dissidents, apparently balking at Cuba's insistence that they leave the country in exchange for their freedom, remained in jail in late year. A fourth journalist, arrested in 2009, also remained in prison.

February 15, 2011 12:39 AM ET

Alerts   |   Cuba

Journalist released on parole, allowed to stay in Cuba

Freed journalist Héctor Maseda Gutiérrez embraces his wife, Laura Pollán, leader of Cuban dissident group Ladies in White, in his home in Havana. (AP/Franklin Reyes)

New York, February 14, 2011--The Committee to Protect Journalists called on Cuban authorities today to place no conditions on the release of journalist Héctor Maseda Gutiérrez, who was freed on parole Saturday. Maseda Gutiérrez is a founding member of the independent news agency Grupo de Trabajo Decoro and a winner of CPJ's International Press Freedom Award in 2008.

Alerts   |   Cuba

Cuba's Maseda Gutiérrez balks at conditions for freedom

New York, February 11, 2011--The Catholic Church in Havana announced today that jailed Cuban journalist Héctor Maseda Gutiérrez, a CPJ International Press Freedom Awardee, at left, would be released after nearly eight years behind bars. But news reports, including one citing the journalist's wife, said Maseda Gutiérrez has balked at conditions placed on his release and at the continued detention of other political dissidents.

Letters   |   Cuba, Spain

Press Cuba to keep promise to free journalists

Dear President Rodríguez Zapatero: The Committee to Protect Journalists is alarmed that the Cuban government has yet to fulfill its promise to free all journalists imprisoned during the 2003 crackdown on dissent. We urge your government, which was a key party to the agreement to release the prisoners by November 2010, to hold President Raúl Castro to his word.

Blog   |   Cuba

A Cuban journalist in exile: Unkept promises

Gálvez Rodríguez shows his passport to the media after his arrival in Spain. (Reuters)

The clouds of exile are twice as bitter. Being forced from your birthplace and into legal limbo in the land of your grandparents where you're met by complete official abandonment only deepens the wounds. My gloominess has nothing to do with the affection and solidarity shown by the Spanish people, especially the citizens of Madrid. Thanks to many of them my family--my wife and my little 5-year-old Emmanuel--have clothes and shoes. We arrived with nothing. Or worse yet: We arrived loaded down with the heavy baggage of my long imprisonment.

Blog   |   Cuba

For Cuban dissidents, prison is the only destination

Juan Carlos Herrera Acosta arrives in Spain in August. (AFP)

I was born beneath the yoke of a tyranny, now more than 50 years old, in which prison is the only destination for its deterrents. I first came across this destination in 1997, when I was sentenced to five years in prison for the alleged crime of committing an outrage "against state security." In Cuba, besides being a journalist, I was the coordinator of the Cuban Youth for Democracy Movement, an organization that defends the many truncated rights within higher learning institutions, such as a university's autonomy. The answer to our demands? Prison. 

January 11, 2011 10:14 AM ET

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