Thursday, September 29, 2016

Committee to Protect Journalists Invites Journalists in Cuba to “Cross the Red Lines

Committee to Protect Journalists Invites Journalists in Cuba to "Cross
the Red Lines" /14ymedio

14ymedio, Havana, 28 September 2016 – Dismantling the legal framework
for the press and eliminating all barriers to individual access to the
internet are key factors to promote a more open information environment
in Cuba, according to the report Connecting Cuba: More Space for
Criticism but Restrictions Slow Press Freedom Progress, published this
Wednesday by the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ). However, the
organization with headquarters in New York, highlights the progress made
and suggests that "the foundations of a free press already exist" in the

Among other positive factors, it emphasizes the existence of "A lively
blogosphere, an increasing number of news websites carrying
investigative reporting and news commentary, and an innovative breed of
independent reporters who are critical of, yet still support socialist
ideas." This transformation, it adds, means that it is possible to delve
into issues that for a long time were treated superficially or ignored
by the official press, making visible, for example, gay rights or
allegations of corruption and poverty.

The report assesses the development of projects such as the site of
narrative journalism El Estornudo (The Sneeze) and the in-depth articles
on local issues in Periodismo de Barrio (Neighborhood Journalism), as
well as "the sustained quality of 14ymedio, which provides readers with
stories and perspectives that they can't find anywhere else."

"Space is opening up. Things are moving and the status quo is cracking,"
Miriam Celaya, a contributor to 14ymedio, told CPJ. "But Cuba hasn't
changed as much as we would like."

"The Cuban people deserve answers to numerous pressing questions," said
the organization, adding, "It would be foolish to expect that
substantive answers to these questions will be forthcoming anytime soon.
But they would become significantly harder to ignore if more Cuban
journalists were asking them. For the sake of their country's future, it
is hoped that more Cuban journalists will decide to join those who have
already crossed red lines."

CPJ lists among the elements that hamper the progress of press freedom
in Cuba "harassment and intimidation from authorities, a legal limbo
caused by outdated and restrictive press laws, and limited and expensive
access to the internet."

In addition, arbitrary arrests and citations for independent
journalists, according to the report, remain common despite recording a
decline in recent years. "Fears of similar action or arrest prompt many
independent journalists to self-censor," journalists interviewed for the
report told CPJ.

The organization believes that the restoration of diplomatic ties
between Washington and Havana has made it difficult for the Cuban
government to justify censorship of the press as a means to protect the
country from US aggression.

The main obstacle to the development of a free press, according to CPJ
is limited access to Internet, as broadband connections are not
available in most Cuban homes and the service is expensive. The low
internet penetration in the country (Cuba has one of the lowest rates of
internet access in the Western Hemisphere) means that the audience for
new media is concentrated essentially in the US and Europe, while access
to independent news sites such as 14ymedio is blocked, leaving island
residents to seek alternative solutions such as the Weekly Packet.

"Despite facing many obstacles, Cuba's journalists and bloggers have
found innovative ways to distribute content, including using flash
drives and underground computer networks, and sending articles via the
state email system," the report said.

The study reports that the use of Nanostations, a device that helps
extend wifi signals and that is available on the black market, is also

The report concludes with a series of recommendations to the Cuban
Government, among which are requests for changes in the constitutional
and legal framework to ensure that journalists can carry out their work
without fear and can create private or cooperative media, the promotions
of a critical state media, and better access to the Internet. In
addition, the organization demands an end to arrests and practices of
intimidation, and asks that the UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion
and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression be
allowed in the country

The CJP asks, in addition, for the Organization of American States (OAS)
to act as mediator for the visit of the Rapporteur and to consider the
Cuban government's history on human rights in its work.

Source: Committee to Protect Journalists Invites Journalists in Cuba to
"Cross the Red Lines" /14ymedio – Translating Cuba -

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