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Key Developments

» Last Black Spring detainee freed from prison, but official repression is significant and ongoing.

» Fiber-optic project sets stage for broadband Internet, although public will not benefit.

Official repression in Cuba remained the most intense in the hemisphere. Although the last of the 29 independent journalists imprisoned in the 2003 Black Spring crackdown was released in April, the government's restrictive practices persisted. Official censorship was codified in law and closely enforced. The government persecuted critical journalists with arbitrary arrests, short-term detentions, beatings, smear campaigns, surveillance, and social sanctions. Despite the island nation's low Internet penetration, the battle for free expression was being waged almost entirely online. The government enlisted a legion of official bloggers to counteract a vibrant independent blogosphere. A fiber-optic cable project would enable the introduction of high-speed Internet. The launch of broadband service, which faced delays in 2011, would improve the island's government-approved Internet connections, but would not extend connectivity to the general public.

  • 0

    Imprisoned on December 1, 2011
  • 18

    Forced into exile, 2010-11
  • 50

    Cases of repression
  • 15.1%

    Internet penetration
  • 1,000

    Official bloggers

Intense international advocacy efforts and long-term negotiations led by the Catholic Church and the Spanish government resulted in the release of the last journalist jailed in the Black Spring crackdown, CPJ research shows.

Imprisoned in Cuba:

CPJ research found that Cuba and Iran led the list of countries from which journalists were forced to leave in 2010-11. Most of the Black Spring detainees were sent to Spain as a condition of their release from prison.

Life in exile has been marked by economic and professional challenges for the exiled Cuban journalists.

Top countries from which journalists fled, 2010-11:

1. Cuba (18)

1. Iran (18)

3. Eritrea (5)

3. Ethiopia (5)

5. Somalia (3)

5. Democratic Republic of Congo (3)

5. Pakistan (3)


CPJ research found that independent journalists were regularly harassed, obstructed, and detained in March and April 2011, a period with two sensitive political milestones.

The actions prevented these reporters from covering the Communist Party Congress in April and the eighth anniversary in March of the Black Spring crackdown.

Highlights from the cases:


Arrests carried out with violence


Journalists subjected to house arrest


Penetration remained relatively low, with the International Telecommunication Union estimating about 1.5 million users. Internet connections are mostly in government offices, universities, and other officially approved locations.

Domestic Internet penetration over time:

The government estimated that it had enlisted 1,000 bloggers to promote official views and denounce critical journalists. Many official bloggers were government employees, and all enjoyed easy, low-cost access to official Internet connections, CPJ research shows.

A field tilted toward the government:


Estimated number of critical journalistic blogs, CPJ research shows, all of which were hosted on overseas servers.


Approximate hourly cost of uncensored Internet connections at hotels.

US$70 million

Cost of fiber-optic cable project, financed by the Venezuelan government and laid by the French company Alcatel-Lucent. It would improve existing connections in government offices, universities, and other official sites but would not increase overall connectivity.

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