Cuba denies visas for foreign press, arrests journalists during Pope's visit

Although about 800 journalists from 33 countries are covering Pope Benedict's visit to Cuba March 26- 28, the Cuban government denied visas for reporters and photographers from Florida and a journalist from the Spanish newspaper El País, according to reports by El Nuevo Herald and Diario de Cuba.

Spanish-language news media from Florida were not allowed to cover the pope's visit, reported El Nuevo Herald that publishes in Miami. "The Cuban authorities punished many news media outlets, especially Spanish-language media like us, that provide the Cuban people unvarnished and aggressive reporting that they can not read in Cuba," said Manny García, executive editor El Nuevo Herald.

Officials in Havana said that they gave press credentials to 300 news media outlets from around the world, including the U.S. Spanish-language networks Univision and Telemundo, reported the news site Café Fuerte.

Cuban blogger Yoani Sánchez said on her Twitter account that the Cuban government's telephone company ETECSA cut off cell phone service for hundreds of dissidents, independent journalists, bloggers, and Cuban activists, including the opposition group Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation, according to Infolatam.

The blogger also tweeted that authorities didn't allow independent journalist Aini Martin Valero to attend the Pope's mass, and that photographer and editor Claudio Fuentes was arrested.

The news agency EFE reported that 150 opposition supporters were arrested and a person went missing after shouting "down with communism" before the pope's ceremony started in Santiago de Cuba, on Monday, March 26.