Press organizations concerned about new wave of repression against journalists in Cuba

The freeing of all Cuba's imprisoned dissident journalists in recent months generated expectations about a possible relaxation of strict censorship rules and zero tolerance for opposition under the more than 50 years of leadership by the Castro brothers in Cuba. However, freedom of expression organizations are denouncing a new wave of attacks on independent Cuban journalists, an indication that nothing in fact has changed and the regime of censorship is continuing, according to news reports.

Reporters Without Borders and the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) reported in recent days that Cuban authorities are continuing to persecute independent journalists with arbitrary arrests, beatings and intimidation.

In the report "After the Black Spring, Cuba's New Repression," CPJ said that while authorities talk about political and economic reform and introducing high-speed Internet in the island, the government has not abandoned its restrictive policies aimed at halting the flow of information.

In April, just weeks after the last jailed journalist was released, reporters denounced another round of intimidation during the Communist Party's congress, April 16-19, 2011.

Among the main methods for repressing opposition journalism, CPJ said, were arbitrary arrests, beatings, and smear campaigns, according to the news agency DPA.

The Reporters Without Borders report said the harassment has centered around online news, like from Hablemos Press. The independent news agency, with accounts in https://twitter.com/CIHPRESS >Twitter and Facebook, has faced aggression and threats against its reporters.

Still, despite the gloomy outlook for freedom of expression in Cuba, CPJ highlighted the "vibrant blogosphere" that includes more than 40 opposition journalist blogs on the island, led by award-winning blogger Yoani Sánchezand her blog Generation Y, that "offers a space for reflection, analysis and information," but also a "platform to respond to the government's campaigns."

Note from the editor: This story was originally published by the Knight Center’s blog Journalism in the Americas, the predecessor of LatAm Journalism Review.