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Cuba's independent journalists

Stockholm, March 31, 1998, Cuba Press

"Independent Journalist Movement in Cuba", presented by Juan A. Granados, President of Cuba Free Press, Inc., during the "No Freedom... No Culture" conference sponsored by the World Association of Newspapers and Index on Censorship, in the framework of the UNESCO Intergovernmental Conference on Cultural Policies for Development, held at Dansens Hus, Stokholm, Sweden.

Independent Journalism in Cuba. Stockholm, Sweeden - March 31, 1998.  

Between persecutions and anguish, Soljenitsin used to write "a government does not want writers, it only wants manipulators." Of course, the great Russian writer was characterizing as "government", the totalitarian state that under Stalin's leadership managed to crush him for the better part of his life.  

Fidel Castro very early recognized that a Press which is allowed to exercise its rights of criticism and impartiality with the truth, would always protect the rights of citizens, and would become a public prosecutor of governmental abuses. For this reason, one of his first steps towards strengthening his power was the eradication of freedom of the press in Cuba. A police state was established in Cuba with three powerful armies: soldiers, policemen, and the official press.  

With the birth of the CUBAN INDEPENDENT JOURNALIST MOVEMENT, the first irreversible fracture is produced in Fidel Castro's monolithic regime.  

The independent press in Cuba, which struggles from day to day with dignity and professionalism to rescue its integrity, constitutes the foundation from which future civil society in Cuba will emerge.  

Home violations and invasions carried out by the political police at late hours of the night and early morning, threats, searches and seizures of the most elemental tools of a writer or journalist's trade, pencils, pens, paper, typewriters, files, library records, manuscripts, computers, cameras, and recorders.  

Continuous interruptions of telephonic service and the temporary or permanent suspension of same, render the work of these heroes extremely difficult in their fight for freedom of expression.  

It has become essential for the world to know that there ARE indeed independent journalists in Cuba, and that they are not bakers, cooks, taxi drivers, or construction workers; that they are true media professionals who risk their lives to defend freedom of expression and information, and who survive as a direct result of the logistic and financial support afforded to them by exiled Cubans, who, in their virtually anonymous and exhausting efforts, complement their work.  

Cuba Free Press, who I am honored to preside, is a palpable example of what I have just described. It is also important to single out the support and protection offered by: World Association of Newspapers, Reportieres Sans Frontieres, Committee for the Defense of Journalists, Interamerican Press Association (IAPA), Amnesty International and others.  

Outside the legal framework established for the official Cuban press, there exist in Cuba today, small independent agencies organized within the island, such as Cuba Press, directed by poet and journalist Raul Rivero, who was recently nominated as Vice President of the Committee for Freedom of the Press and Information of the Interamerican Press Association, and who is the recipient as well of the Freedom of the Press award presented by Reportieres Sans Frontieres last December.  

The primary objective of the independent journalists inside Cuba is to inform the Cuban people of what transpires inside their country. This the independent journalists accomplish by reading their chronicles and news reports from within Cuba to foreign radio stations which in turn are heard on the island, principally, through Radio Marti and medium wave stations originating from Miami.  

Worldwide propagation is as well being accomplished through the Internet. Organizations like Cuba Free Press publish and maintain a permanent library of articles and news reports issued by independent journalists, which encompass all aspects of Cuban social life, health, nutrition, transportation, religion, human rights, culture, etc. Many of these works are translated into other languages.  

The majority of the information originating from journalists and independent writers in Cuba, and published by the large worldwide media, is gathered directly from the Internet by editors throughout the world who visit the web each day.  

Additionally, from outside of Cuba, small newspapers, magazines, bulletins, and pamphlets, are published and distributed by different means, to parties interested in the Cuban situation all over the world.  

We all hope that the evolution of the Cuban problem towards democratization will permit us to participate in the process with our publications from outside Cuba, and with future ones published from inside Cuba by free Cubans, with the goal of informing all Cubans as to what is transpiring in Cuba and all around the world.  

To finalize, I would like to recognize three independent journalists who are presently incarcerated. They are Bernardo Arevalo Padron, sentenced to six years in prison for contempt; Lorenzo Paez Nuñez, sentenced to 18 months for news propagation; and Juan Carlos Recio Martinez, sentenced to one year of hard labor without incarceration for failing to denounce a dissident.  

Thank you.  

By Juan A. Granados, President, Cuba Free Press, Inc.


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