Cuban Independent Media Reject Government’s Attacks on Press Freedom

On October 7, 2019, 19 members of Cuba’s independent media issued a joint declaration against the Cuban government’s attacks on press freedom.[1]

“CONSIDERATIONS”

“FIRST: Since January 2018, 183 attacks on journalists working in the country have been documented, . . . and in recent months there has been an ostensible increase in attacks;”

“SECOND: These attacks are part of a wave of repression against the independent, unofficial and non-state press, and include arbitrary detentions, interrogations, psychological intimidation, verbal attacks, house raids, bans on leaving the country, sexual harassment, cyberbullying, defamation, provocations on public roads and confiscation of the means of work, among others;”

THIRD: These attacks are part of a systematic campaign of the Cuban government in order to silence those who practice independent journalism. In turn, these aggressions curtail the right of Cuban citizens to information of public interest and, therefore, prevent them from accessing and participating in decision-making;”

FOURTH: To contribute to the economic, social and cultural development of any contemporary society and of Cuba among them, a public, open discussion is required, without obstacles or barriers, participatory, assertive, based on the facts and evidence, guided by the analysis intelligent, continuous, rational and calm of events;”

FIFTH: The journalists are messengers of the facts whose knowledge and dissemination generate public discussion; we also constitute a diverse, legitimate and indigenous group;”

“SIXTH: Having a free press in Cuba is a fundamental condition for the country to process and better resolve its conflicts, challenges and threats in pursuit of the welfare and interest of Cuban society, of which we are a part;”

“SEVENTH: In accordance with the third article of the Constitution of the Republic of Cuba, sovereignty resides in the people, from which emanates all the power of the State; Therefore, as journalists and part of society, we make the following statements and requirements in the exercise of that sovereignty and our free, autonomous and collective will.”

“STATEMENTS”

“FIRST: CONDEMNATION. We reject systematic attacks on freedom of the press and expression against several journalists by the authorities themselves: we suffer illegal detentions for long and/or short periods of time; we are sentenced to prison, subjected to interrogations and psychological torture techniques; our homes have been raided; we are prohibited from leaving the country; we suffer constant harassment, provocations and seizures of the means of work, among other actions.”

“SECOND: LEGALIZATION. We request that the Cuban authorities grant legal character to the journalistic exercise in the country and to the independent, non-state media.”

“THIRD: LAW REPEAL. We demand the repeal of any law, administrative act, decree, resolution and rule that restricts the freedom of expression or press of any journalist and media.”

“FOUR: RIGHT TO INFORM. We demand for all Cuban people the right to inform and receive truthful and objective information; the freedom to express and spread your thoughts and opinions; the freedom to found mass media; the express prohibition of all forms of censorship and the legal protection of information sources.”

“FIFTH: TRANSPARENCY. We demand that the government make available to citizens and journalists all the information generated by its various instances and branches of power, including open, free, comprehensive, timely, permanent and primary data that facilitate citizen oversight of its management. We also demand that it effectively prevent prior censorship, restrictions on the circulation of media content, the arbitrary imposition of information, obstacles against the free flow of information and limitations on the free exercise and mobilization of journalists.”

SIXTH: PROTECTION. We demand that the authorities prohibit illegal detentions, pressures, use and exercise of any tool, mechanism, mode of blackmail and coercion against journalists, because of the issues they investigate, what they think, say and publish; and that include, but are not limited to: prison sentences, temporary detentions, home searches, bans on leaving the country or entering, psychological torture, destruction or confiscation of their work materials, any type of violence or intimidation that restricts freedom of expression, thought, conscience and the press. We also demand that those who breach this duty of protection be punished.”

“SEVENTH: NO DISCRIMINATION. We demand that the authorities prohibit discrimination against journalists and the media because of their journalistic exercise.”

EIGHTH: COMMITMENT. Journalists and non-state and independent media commit ourselves to Cuban society to exercise the profession of journalism with adherence to the truth and the search for facts of public interest; to adopt internal mechanisms that guarantee the verification and accuracy of our information, as well as objectivity, impartiality and fairness; and to establish a clear differentiation between information, opinion and commercial messages. The achievement of these ends and the observance of ethical and professional values ​​should not be imposed and are the sole responsibility of journalists and media.”

Declaration’s Signatories

These are the 19 signatories: 14ymedio ,  ADN Cuba ,  Alas Tensas ,  Inverted Tree ,  Asociación Pro Libertad de Prensa (APLP) ,  CiberCuba ,  Coexistence ,  CubaNet , DIARIO DE CUBA,  El Estornudo ,  Havana Times ,  Hypermedia Magazine ,  La Hora de Cuba ,  Play-Off Magazine ,  Project Inventory ,  Vista Bridge ,  Rialta ,  Tremendous Note ,  YucaByte.

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[1]  Declaration of Cuban independent media, Diario de Cuba (Oct. 7, 2019).