Cuba listed among CPJ's top 10 countries with worst press censorship

Cuba is listed among the 10 top countries with the highest levels of press censorship worldwide, according to a recent report by the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ). The report cites government control of the news media, Internet providers that block information, arbitrary detentions, and defamatory campaigns against independent journalists as the reasoning for the bad censorship record.

Cuba was the only country in the Americas included in the list of authoritarian governments that suppress freedom of expression. However, CPJ noted in the report that in many Mexican regions, journalists practice self-censorship to avoid retaliation from organized crime, but censorship is not imposed by state agents.

CPJ, based in New York, said that the freedom of expression situation in Cuba improved since 2006 when, under under Raúl Castro's regime, freedom of expression was ranked sixth place world wide. This year it is ranked ninth place due to the authorities freeing about 20 journalists from prison who had been arrested during the black spring of 2003, reported CNN in Spanish. Officially, as of the end of 2011, there were no more journalists imprisoned in Cuba, although in January a journalist was sent to trial for alleged corruption and spying. During Pope Benedict XVI's recent visit, freelance journalists and bloggers complained about blocked cell phones and brief arbitrary detentions.

The Cuban authorities revoked the press credentials of foreign correspondents and denied blogger Yoani Sánchez's visa to travel, who is a strong opposer to the communist regime.

Although other countries from the Western hemisphere did not make the CPJ's list, a recent report by the organization Freedom House said that freedom of expression is worsening in Latin America because the majority of the countries fall under the "partially free" press category. In Latin America, the press enjoys total freedom only in Costa Rica and Uruguay, according to the Press and Society Institute.

According to CPJ's list, the country with the highest level of censorship in the world was Eritrea, followed by North Korea, Siria, Iran, Equatorial Guinea, Uzbekistan, Birmania, Saudi Arabia, and lastly Belarus, reported Cuba Encuentro. China is not part of the list but it was mentioned as the authoritarian model for other regimes and an "exporter of censorship technology."