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Change comes slowly in Cuba, even when it starts at the top. Despite expectations of reforms when Raul Castro became president last year and some signs of easing, the island nation remains a tightly controlled central economy under a Communist regime that suppresses freedom of speech and other civil liberties.
The Castro government has extended its authority over the Internet, as it has done with newspapers, radio and television. It restricts access to computers and Internet subscriptions, keeping prices high and blocking Web sites that the government considers critical or undesirable. Officials and government loyalists monitor Web logs, or blogs, to watch for signs of dissent and to post comments supporting the regime and attacking its critics.
These actions took an ugly turn this month when 3 prominent Cuban Internet journalists were attacked by plain clothes government security agents. On their way to cover a peaceful march in downtown Havana, Yoani Sanchez, Orlando Luis Pardo and Claudia Cadelo were forced into unmarked cars and driven around for 20 minutes, during which time Ms. Sanchez was beaten. Ironically, the purpose of the march, organized by young musicians, was to protest against violence. Ms. Sanchez's work reporting on conditions in Cuba has been recognized around the world.
President Barack Obama proclaimed November 9 as World Freedom Day, and it is just this kind of repression and violence against the voices of freedom and reconciliation that his proclamation is meant to expose.
The United States strongly deplores the assault and urges the government of Cuba to ensure the full respect of the human rights and fundamental freedoms of all its citizens.