Internet en Cuba

Independent news agency under threat in Cuba

Published: September 28, 2012 Updated 3 hours ago

By DANA SANTS — The Institute for War & Peace Reporting

It appears that Cuban authorities are determined to eliminate one of the

few independent sources of news on the island nation.

That was the message conveyed to Roberto de Jesus Guerra Perez, the head

of the independent Hablemos Press, by one of the agency's reporters who

is currently in .

The reporter, Calixto Ramon Martinez Arias, was earlier this

month on charges of "disrespecting" Cuban and his

older brother, Fidel. Martinez has since required medical treatment for

injuries sustained while in custody.

While Martinez has been taken into custody on numerous occasions, this

is the first time the reporter has actually faced charges. Guerra

speculates that the Cuban security service want to take the

"out of circulation" temporarily.

Independent journalists and advocates are regularly

detained in Cuba. The New York-based group Human Rights Watch says

"political conformity" is enforced through "short-term detentions,

beatings, public acts of repudiation, forced exile, and

restrictions."

An editorial in the state-controlled newspaper Granma in late July

described independent journalists, opposition parties and human rights

defenders as "vulgar agents whom the United States government and its

allies pay, supply and instruct. They betray their nation for a few coins."

Guerra himself is no stranger to confrontations with the authorities. He

was arrested and beaten by earlier this month.

In a Twitter posting on September 25, Guerra said, "Neither my phone nor

Magaly's (his wife) can receive calls. Only yesterday were we able to

begin sending messages, but we can neither make nor receive calls."

It's all part of the government's attempt to limit access to Hablemos

Press, he suspects.

Hugo Landa, who heads the U.S.-based Cubanet website, says Hablemos

Press plays an essential role by providing information about what is

really happening in Cuba.

"Hablemos Press has become a source of independent information that

covers practically the entire island … despite the government siege

that makes this very difficult," he said. "They are also able to quickly

send their reports to the outside world, giving them a value of

immediacy that is often lacking due to restricted access in Cuba."

From his prison cell, Martinez Arias asks colleagues to remain calm,

asking them simply to "continue their work as journalists."

ABOUT THE WRITER

Dana Sants is an in Mexico. This article first

appeared on a website maintained by The Institute for War & Peace

Reporting, a nonprofit organization that trains journalists in areas of

conflict. Readers may write to the author at the Institute for War &

Peace Reporting, 48 Grays Inn Road, London WC1X 8LT, U.K.; Web site:

www.iwpr.net. For information about IWPR's funding, please go to

http://www.iwpr.net/index.pl?top-supporters.html.

This essay is available to McClatchy-Tribune News Service subscribers.

McClatchy-Tribune did not subsidize the writing of this column; the

opinions are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the

views of McClatchy-Tribune or its editors.

2012 The Institute for War & Peace Reporting

http://www.bellinghamherald.com/2012/09/28/2708726/independent-news-agency-under.html

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