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Journalists Harassed in Cuba

Authorities in Cuba are making it difficult for journalists to cover the illness of Cuban dictator Fidel Castro or any other story for that matter. In a written statement, Reporters Without Borders, an independent monitoring group, says that Ahmed Rodriquez, a journalist working in Havana for the Jovenes sin Censura (Young People Without Censorship) news agency, was harassed one evening, "by officials and about sixty government activists who surrounded his house, stuck political posters on the walls, and stopped family members and others coming or going."

Reporters Without Borders says that, "independent journalist Alicia Niobis Ortiz Salmon, "was arrested by police. . . .interrogated by the head of state security, warned to stop working as an independent journalist and told she was being watched and could be prosecuted."

Furthermore, says Reporters Without Borders, the conditions of some of the more than twenty jailed Cuban journalists are deteriorating. They include Ricardo Gonzales Alfonso, founder of the magazine De Cuba, and Guillermo Farinas, head of the Cubanacan press agency. In July, Cuban journalists, Roberto de Jesus Guerra Perez and Oscar Mario Gonzales Perez, marked their first anniversary in a Cuban prison. They have yet to be charged with any crime. Mr. Guerra is a contributor to Radio Marti, and to the Payolibre and Nueva Presenta Cubana Internet websites. Mr. Gonzales is a founder of the Grupo de Trabajo Decoro, an independent Cuban news agency.

In a recent press release, the Inter American Press Association also noted that Cuban officials are denying entry to foreign journalists. U.S. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack commented on the curbs on press freedom:

"It's a sad situation where the Cuban people are suffering and freedom of expression is virtually nonexistent in Cuba."

The second report of the U.S. Commission for Assistance to a Free Cuba says that restoring freedom of the press in Cuba, "will be essential to securing free and fair multiparty elections."

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