Cuba’s press, emboldened by President Raúl Castro’s call for reforms in 2010, are finding more space for critical comment, but harassment and intimidation from authorities, a legal limbo caused by outdated and restrictive press laws, and limited, expensive access to the internet is slowing progress toward press freedom, says a special report by the Committee to Protect Journalists:
Cuba’s media is opening, with journalists and bloggers finding more space to be critical and delve into issues ignored by the state-run press. However, a legal limbo over independent reporting, restricted and expensive access to the internet, and the threat of arbitrary detentions is slowing progress. Cuba’s bloggers, reporters, and online magazine publishers share their view of the state of press freedom.
Last Friday, Cuban police raided the headquarters of Cubalex – the Center for Legal Information – in the Havana municipality of Arroyo Naranjo, seizing six computers, several hard drives, USB drives and cell phones. The officers informed the lawyer Laritza Diversent (right) that she could be accused of the crime of “illicit economic activity,” according to a report from 14ymedio (via Translating Cuba).
The thorough search of the building lasted until after eleven p.m. and “when it seemed that everything was going to end and they had concluded their interrogations” of the activists, they forced them to strip naked “and squat to verify that there was nothing hidden in their bodies,” said one activist (HT: Capitol Hill Cubans).
The uptick in repression coincides with President Obama nomination of Jeffrey DeLaurentis, who currently serves as the chief of mission at the U.S. embassy in Havana, to serve as the first U.S. ambassador to Cuba in more than 50 years. But the nomination may face some roadblocks in the Senate, The Atlantic reports.
“The decision to resume diplomatic relations with Cuba has been widely supported, and the number of Americans traveling to Cuba is increasing dramatically,” said Senator Patrick J. Leahy, Democrat of Vermont, said in a statement. “We need an ambassador who knows Cuba, who is respected by the Cuban government, and who will stand up for U.S. interests and values. Jeff is that person.”
But Florida Republican Senator Marco Rubio, the son of Cuban immigrants, criticized the appointment.
“This nomination should go nowhere until the Castro regime makes significant and irreversible progress in the areas of human rights and political freedom for the Cuban people, and until longstanding concerns about the Cuban regime’s theft of property and crimes against American citizens are addressed.”
These are difficult times for the Cuban opposition, after a week of intense repression signaling that the regime is acting with impunity in targeting civil society, they have coincided in pointing out members of civil society, according to DIARIO DE CUBA. The raid on Cubalex is a sign of things to come, and the opposition should be prepared and call for solidarity.RTWT
Cubalex director Diversent informed 14ymedio that the operation by State Security agents followed a report on the status of freedom of expression in Cuba” that she presented to the United Nations’ special rapporteur for freedom of expression in Geneva in mid-August.
”Our team was analyzing the situation, looking for the reasons why the authorities acted the way they did against our center, a team that has been working for more than five consecutive years without experiencing an action like this,” she said. “We fear that happen again repressive escalation as the Black Spring of 2003. The intention is to recreate a situation like that, creating a political crisis amid progress in talks with both the US and the European Union.”