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 Forget 'The Dress': Here are five of the biggest news stories you might have missed
- 2 The black and blue dress: Makers considering a white and gold version
- 3 PornHub turns masturbation into energy in bid to save the planet
- 4 The remarkable archaeological underwater discovery that could open up a new chapter in the study of European and British prehistory
- 5 Saudi Muslim cleric claims the Earth is 'stationary' and the sun rotates around it
Boris Nemtsov shot dead: Outspoken Putin critic who had expressed fears for his life is killed near the Kremlin
PornHub turns masturbation into energy in bid to save the planet
Ukraine crisis: Top Chinese diplomat backs Putin and says West should 'abandon zero-sum mentality'
White and gold or blue and black – what colour is the dress? An eyewitness gives a definitive answer
Saudi Muslim cleric claims the Earth is 'stationary' and the sun rotates around it
New theory could prove how life began and disprove God
This is what it's like to be dead, according to a guy who died for a bit
'Cash for access' scandal: Sir Malcolm Rifkind says 'unrealistic' for MPs to live on £67,000 salary
'Jihadi John': CAGE representative storms off Sky News accusing Kay Burley of Islamophobia
Ukip would cut billions from Scottish budget to fund English tax cuts
Russia's roadmap for annexing eastern Ukraine 'leaked from Vladimir Putin's office'
£9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This role is based within a small family run ...
£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Design and marketing agenc...
£46000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This property investment firm are lookin...
£18000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company specialises provid...