Cuba punishes journalists for daring to differ
Thursday 05 June 1997
It's just that there is no news outlet that will print or broadcast your material. The 100 or so self-styled "independent journalists" who have emerged over the last few years to challenge Fidel Castro's one-party Communist rule send their stories or radio reports to Cuban-American media outlets in the United States, usually via telephone calls to sympathisers in third countries and almost always without payment.
They survive, in spite of official harassment, on cash sent to them by such groups as the French-based Reporters Sans Frontieres (Reporters Without Frontiers). But even that buys little more than pens, pencils and paper - all hard to come by in Havana.
Their main radio outlet is Radio Marti, a US-based station run by Cuban exiles, administered by the Voice of America and widely heard on the Caribbean island. Printed stories get used by such Spanish-language publications as Diario de los Americas and El Nuevo Herald, sister publication of the Miami Herald.
Most of the "independent journalists" broke away from Cuba's official publications and state broadcasting media, disillusioned with daily repetitions of the success of the latest five-year economic plan or other government propaganda. They set up the first independent agencies in 1995.
Although these agencies are illegal, the authorities largely turn a blind eye. Their "bureaux" are their bedrooms, their transport is bicycles and their equipment usually battered typewriters or just pencils and scraps of paper.
A government raid a year ago on one of the independent agencies, in which every pen and pencil was taken away, was a major setback in a country where schools are desperately short of such basic equipment.
One founder of the independent journalists' movement, Rafael Solano, opted for exile in Spain last year after being jailed for six weeks and charged with "criminal association," which could have put him in prison for three years.
"They said I couldn't come back and that they would eventually crush independent journalism," said Mr Solano, 45.
- 1 Tidal launch: The most pretentious lines from Alicia Keys' valedictory speech
- 2 Britain First 'acting like Ukip henchmen' by invading meeting of activists in revenge for pub protest against Nigel Farage
- 3 Katie Hopkins attacked me on Twitter — so I reported her to the police for inciting racial hatred
- 4 Tidal: Jay Z's Spotify rival streaming service criticised for making wealthy artists even richer
- 5 Brixton squat flats now costing up to £3k per month show how out of control rent is in London
Britain First 'acting like Ukip henchmen' by invading meeting of activists in revenge for pub protest against Nigel Farage
Costa Concordia: Shipment of Mob drugs was hidden aboard cruise liner when it hit rocks off Italian coast, investigators say
Brixton squat flats now costing up to £3k per month show how out of control rent is in London
A new (old) cure for MRSA? Revolting recipe from the Dark Ages may be key to defeat infection
Turkey power cut: Prime Minister says nationwide blackout could be caused by terrorists
Ukip supporters are 55 or older, white and socially conservative, finds British Social Attitudes Report
Street preacher quoting from the Bible fined for calling homosexuality an 'abomination'
Woman filmed launching racist tirade against men on the Tube for speaking in 'own lingo'
The West has it totally wrong on Lee Kuan Yew
David Cameron calls Labour 'hopeless, sneering socialists' while announcing 7-day NHS plans
Revealed: Putin's army of pro-Kremlin bloggers
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This leading supplier of compliance software a...
£24000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Associate System Engineer r...
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: An Executive Assistant is required to join a l...
£45000 - £50000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...