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Lack Of Free Press In Cuba

In its 2006 annual report, the independent Paris-based monitoring group Reporters Without Borders says, "The right to inform the public is recognized in every country except Cuba – still the world's second biggest prison for journalists after China."

In March 2003, the Communist government of Fidel Castro arrested over one hundred dissidents. Among them were twenty-seven journalists who were given prison terms ranging from fourteen to twenty-seven years. The Reporters Without Borders report points out that the arrests "dealt a heavy blow to Cuba's independent press, which had started to emerge on the island in the early 1990s with the creation of small news agencies."

Many of those arrested in Cuba remain in prison. Paul Rivero, founder of an independent news service, is now serving a twenty-year term in a Cuban prison. Oscar Mario Gonzalez Perez, of the Grupo de Trabajo Decoro independent news agency, faces up to twenty years in prison under Law Eighty-Eight, which claims to protect "Cuba's national independence and economy." Yet no precise charge has been brought against him.

Three years after the crackdown, says Reporters Without Borders, the unofficial Cuban press has not given up. In fact, it constitutes the top news source on the status of human rights on the island. However, the report says, "its clandestine situation has forced it to be a press 'from the inside for the outside,' one nearly inaccessible to those whom it covers on a daily basis."

U.S. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack says the lack of press freedom in Cuba "lies with one person":

"Fidel Castro, and the policies that he has forced upon the Cuban people. So it's a sad situation where the Cuban people are suffering and freedom of expression is virtually nonexistent in Cuba."

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice says that in Cuba and elsewhere the United States "hail[s] the courageous sacrifices made by journalists. . . .to report the facts, even at the cost of their lives and their freedom." Ms. Rice says that the U.S. "will continue working to advocate for greater global press freedom," but that "all free societies carry the responsibility to press restrictive governments to allow an open press."

The preceding was an editorial reflecting the views of the United States Government.