25 October 2006

Cuba Ranks 4th in Press Freedom Index

Reporters Without Borders has come out with its Worldwide Press Freedom Index for 2006.

Cuba ranks 4th, from the bottom. Fourth worse. 165th out of 168. Only North Korea, Turkmenistan and Eritrea are worse.

Cuba earns this distinction because of its tireless fight against dissent and criticism and because of its Orwellian “official” media that defines truth, reality and the world to the captive Cubans.

In an separate article in the Voice of America, the Cuban journalistic restraints are explored further:

John Virtue is the Director of the International Media Center at Florida International University in Miamihe says:

"We work with independent journalists in Cuba," he said. "There are about 100 of them who file on a regular basis from Cuba. Very few of them are able to use the Internet. There's just a handful, two or three have Internet accounts. But most of the articles they file they have to do so by telephone and somebody takes dictation in Miami."

Virtue said several independent Cuban journalists his center secretly trained are now in prison for practicing their profession. He recalls the crackdown by Cuban authorities three years ago.

"The Cuban government arrested 75 dissidents. It did that on March the 18, 2003. And of those, 27 were journalists," he added. "And 24 journalists still remain in prison, serving sentences of up to 28 years. And the charges are more or less charges of treason for having cooperated with a foreign government."

Reporters without Borders says you can get a 20-year prison sentence in Cuba for writing articles for foreign websites and a five-year sentence just for connecting with the Internet in an illegal manner. John Virtue says the surveillance by state security is intense.

The propaganda that is force-fed to the captive Cubans 24/7 doesn’t convince anybody of anything. The only real weapon the totalitarian regime has against the truth is their brutal oppression because they cannot compete with ideas. Their ideas are as empty as Cuba’s coffers and the Cuban people’s cupboards.

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