CUBA: AUTHORITIES BLOCK WEBSITES,DETAIN 26TH JOURNALIST
Reporteros sin Fronteras
(www.miscelaneasdecuba.net).- Two bloggers, Luis Felipe González Rojas
and Yosvani Anzardo Hernández, were arrested and beaten by police in the
eastern city of Holguín on 10 September and their computers were
confiscated. González was released after four hours but Anzardo is still
being held. His detention brings the number of detained journalists in
Cuba to 26.
The interview González recently gave to Miami-based Radio Marti was the
probable reason for his arrest. He also keeps a blog called Animal de
Anzardo is the editor of Candonga (www.candonga.org), an online
newspaper for Cubans in Cuba that is currently inaccessible. He has also
been reporting for the Miami-based website Payo Libre for more than
three years. Payo Libre editor Pablo Rodriguez Carvajal said Anzardo has
not been able to communicate with his family since his arrest.
"The authorities are going out of their way to stifle any online
expression of the civil society that is emerging in Cuba," Reporters
Without Borders said. "This censorship reflects the government's refusal
to accept the current and future changes on the island, which are
escaping its control."
The press freedom organisation added: "It is high time that the foreign
embassies in Havana remind the Cuban government of the obligations that
result from its having signed the UN's International Covenant on Civil
and Political Rights in February 2008."
The website of Voces Cubanas (http://vocescubanas.com/), a platform that
supports independent Cuban bloggers, has meanwhile been inaccessible
within Cuba since 28 August. The same goes for the Payo Libre website
since 10 September. The blog of Lia Villares
(www.habanemia.blogspot.com) is also blocked, as is Yoani Sánchez's
blog, Generación Y (www.desdecuba.com/generaciony/).
The Cuban government often blocks websites dedicated to daily life on
the island, only to restore access after a relatively short period. This
repeated censorship tactic is way of discouraging alternative sources of
news and information while misleading the foreign media, which are not
well represented on the island and are closely monitored by the authorities.
Internet obstacle course
As Iván García Quintero says in his blog Penúltimas Días, getting access
to the Internet is a Kakfaesque obstacle course for bloggers and
everyone else in Cuba, which has one of the lowest rates of Internet
access in the western hemisphere. According to official sources, 13 per
cent of the population is online but in practice the rate is probably lower.
A public Internet connection costs six dollars an hour in a country in
which the average monthly salary is the equivalent of 20 dollars, while
very few Cubans have private access to the Internet. Aside from the fact
that all private connections must be approved by the only Internet
Service Provider, the state-owned ETECSA, computer equipment is
prohibitively expensive because retail prices are the same as in western
countries while, in general, the population's purchasing power is 100
Furthermore, connections are extremely slow, so slow that bloggers say
they cannot always read what they themselves have posted online.
The Dutch embassy and the US Interests Section offer free Internet
access of much better quality to the public, but several hours of
waiting is often necessary in order to use it. After Raúl Castro took
over as president, the government lifted a ban on Cubans entering
tourist hotels, which have better connections. But supervision has been
reinforced again and several bloggers such as Yoani Sánchez have turned
away when they tried to enter hotels (see 20 May press release and video
Finally, several sources say that the University of Computer Sciences is
helping to monitor and censor the Internet in Cuba.
With 26 journalists detained, Cuba currently ranks alongside Iran as the
world's third biggest prison for journalists, following Eritrea and
China. The imprisoned journalists include Reporters Without Borders
correspondent Ricardo González Alfonso, who has been held since March 2003.
The western hemisphere's last dictatorship was ranked 169th out of 173
countries in the 2008 Reporters Without Borders press freedom index.
CUBA: AUTHORITIES BLOCK WEBSITES,DETAIN 26TH JOURNALIST – Misceláneas de
Cuba (18 September 2009)