Last Updated: Friday, 11 July 2014, 13:14 GMT

World Report - Cuba

Publisher Reporters Without Borders
Publication Date October 2013
Cite as Reporters Without Borders, World Report - Cuba, October 2013, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4d59464528.html [accessed 14 July 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Freedom of information is still drastically curtailed in Cuba, where only state-owned media can operate. Anyone trying to disseminate opinions critical of the regime continues to be exposed to harassment, threats and arbitrary arrest. Internet use is also still strictly controlled.

The hopes of greater freedom raised when Raúl Castro took charge of the western hemisphere's only communist regime have been dashed by the increase in repression since 2011.

Cuba signalled a desire to comply with international law when it signed two UN agreements – one on civil and political rights, the other on economic, social and cultural rights – in 2008 although it has still not ratified them. At the same time, ordinary Cubans were allowed to obtain personal computer equipment, and mobile phones were legalized. And the dissidents and independent journalists held since the "Black Spring" were freed from July 2010 to March 2011 thanks to mediation by the Spanish government and Cuban Catholic Church.

The wave of releases did not however mean the end of repressive measures and imprisonment. Those currently jailed include José Antonio Torres, a reporter for the government daily Granma, who has been held since May 2011, and Ángel Santiesteban-Prats, the author of a blog called "Los ojos que nadie quiso," who has been serving a five-year jail sentence since February 2013.

Calixto Ramón Martínez Arias, a reporter for Hablemos Press, an independent news centre, was finally released on 9 April 2013 following pressure from international and Cuban civil society. He had been held for seven months.

Cuba continues to be the only country in the Americas that tolerates no independent media, aside from a few Catholic Church magazines. Only the state-owned media – a TV station, a radio station, two dailies (Granma and Juventud Rebelde) and their local equivalents – are allowed to operate, serving above all to relay the regime's propaganda.

Use of the Internet continues to be strictly controlled although a few Internet cafés have opened in Havana. The high cost and low speed of connections also hold back the growth of Internet use. For a long time, Internet connection difficulties could be attributed to problems resulting from the US embargo in effect since 1962, but the authorities have been unable to blame the embargo since the ALBA-1 submarine cable linking Cuba to Venezuela became operational.

Journalists and bloggers such as Yoani Sánchez who want to provide those living on the island with independently reported news and information still have to rely on external media and devices such as USB flash drives to circulate their articles.

The regulations governing the foreign media continue to be equally draconian. According to one clause, a foreign journalist whose coverage is deemed to be "overly negative" can be expelled at once.

The government rejected most recommendations on freedom of information issued by United Nations Human Rights Council member states during the may 2013 Universal Periodic Review.

Updated in October 2013

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