Last Updated: Friday, 19 January 2018, 17:46 GMT

Attacks on the Press in 2011 - Cuba

Publisher Committee to Protect Journalists
Publication Date 22 February 2012
Cite as Committee to Protect Journalists, Attacks on the Press in 2011 - Cuba, 22 February 2012, available at: [accessed 21 January 2018]
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.

Key Developments

  • Last Black Spring detainee freed from prison, but official repression is significant and ongoing.

  • Fiber-optic project sets stage for broadband Internet, although public will not benefit.

Official repression in Cuba remained the most intense in the hemisphere. Although the last of the 29 independent journalists imprisoned in the 2003 Black Spring crackdown was released in April, the government's restrictive practices persisted. Official censorship was codified in law and closely enforced. The government persecuted critical journalists with arbitrary arrests, short-term detentions, beatings, smear campaigns, surveillance, and social sanctions. Despite the island nation's low Internet penetration, the battle for free expression was being waged almost entirely online. The government enlisted a legion of official bloggers to counteract a vibrant independent blogosphere. A fiber-optic cable project would enable the introduction of high-speed Internet. The launch of broadband service, which faced delays in 2011, would improve the island's government-approved Internet connections, but would not extend connectivity to the general public.

[Refworld note: The sections that follow represent a best effort to transcribe onto a single page information that appears in tabs on the CPJ's own pages, which also include a number of graphics not readily reproducible here. Refworld researchers are therefore strongly recommended to check against the original report: Attacks on the Press in 2011.]

Imprisoned on December 1, 2011: 0

Intense international advocacy efforts and long-term negotiations led by the Catholic Church and the Spanish government resulted in the release of the last journalist jailed in the Black Spring crackdown, CPJ research shows.

Imprisoned in Cuba:

Forced into exile, 2010-11: 18

CPJ research found that Cuba and Iran led the list of countries from which journalists were forced to leave in 2010-11. Most of the Black Spring detainees were sent to Spain as a condition of their release from prison.

Life in exile has been marked by economic and professional challenges for the exiled Cuban journalists.

Top countries from which journalists fled, 2010-11:

1. Cuba (18)
1. Iran (18)
3. Eritrea (5)
3. Ethiopia (5)
5. Somalia (3)
5. Democratic Republic of Congo (3)
6. Pakistan (3)

Cases of repression: 50

CPJ research found that independent journalists were regularly harassed, obstructed, and detained in March and April 2011, a period with two sensitive political milestones.

The actions prevented these reporters from covering the Communist Party Congress in April and the eighth anniversary in March of the Black Spring crackdown.

Highlights from the cases:

11: Arrests carried out with violence

12: Journalists subjected to house arrest

Internet penetration: 15.1%

Penetration remained relatively low, with the International Telecommunication Union estimating about 1.5 million users. Internet connections are mostly in government offices, universities, and other officially approved locations.

Official bloggers: 1,000

The government estimated that it had enlisted 1,000 bloggers to promote official views and denounce critical journalists. Many official bloggers were government employees, and all enjoyed easy, low-cost access to official Internet connections, CPJ research shows.

A field tilted toward the government:

40: Estimated number of critical journalistic blogs, CPJ research shows, all of which were hosted on overseas servers.

US$8: Approximate hourly cost of uncensored Internet connections at hotels.

US$70 million: Cost of fiber-optic cable project, financed by the Venezuelan government and laid by the French company Alcatel-Lucent. It would improve existing connections in government offices, universities, and other official sites but would not increase overall connectivity.

Copyright notice: © Committee to Protect Journalists. All rights reserved. Articles may be reproduced only with permission from CPJ.

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