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Key Developments

» One journalist imprisoned; numerous others detained for short periods.

» Government obstructs coverage of pope’s visit, trial in dissident’s death.

Though Cuba projected an image of a nation opening up economically and politically, it took no substantive steps to promote freedom of expression. The authorities announced plans to eliminate exit visa regulations that had long restricted Cuban travel, but skeptics expressed doubts about the government’s commitment to the reform. The prominent blogger Yoani Sánchez, has been denied exit visas at least 19 times, CPJ research shows. Venezuela, which financed a much-heralded Cuban fiber-optic cable project, said the installation was completed, but Havana gave no indication when the technology would be put into use. Internet penetration remained low, with existing public connections slow and expensive. Cuba placed ninth on CPJ’s global survey of most-censored countries, and the authorities continued to stifle dissent. After a one-year absence, the nation rejoined the ranks of countries imprisoning journalists. One independent journalist was jailed when CPJ conducted its annual worldwide survey. Though long-term detentions were more infrequent than in past years, human rights groups and news reports documented short-term detentions and harassment surrounding widely covered events, such as the visit of Pope Benedict XVI in March. The authorities detained Sánchez and two other bloggers while they were en route to cover a trial stemming from the vehicular death in July of Oswaldo Payá, a prominent dissident. Journalist and lawyer Yaremis Flores was detained for two days after reporting local criticism of the government's response to Hurricane Sandy in articles published on the Miami-based Cubanet. Two years after the Black Spring detainees were freed, many of the journalists faced severe economic challenges in exile. One, Albert Santiago Du Bouchet Hernández, killed himself in April.

  • 19

    In exile, 2007-12
  • 9th

    Most Censored
  • 1

    Imprisoned on December 1
  • 30

    Hours of detention

At least 19 journalists have been forced to flee Cuba since 2007, according to CPJ research. Several of the Black Spring detainees were sent to Spain as part of their release negotiations. Life in exile has been marked by great hardship.

Top countries from which journalists have fled, 2007-12:

1. Somalia: 78
2. Iran: 68
3. Ethiopia: 49
4. Iraq: 40
5. Eritrea: 27
6. Sri Lanka: 23
7. Cuba: 19
8. Pakistan: 15
9. Chad: 14
10. Rwanda: 14

Cuba placed ninth on CPJ’s 2012 global survey of Most Censored Countries. The authorities continued to persecute critical journalists, using arbitrary arrests, short-term detentions, surveillance, and smear campaigns, while all authorized domestic news media were controlled by the Communist Party.

CPJ’s Most Censored Countries:

1. Eritrea
2. North Korea
3. Syria
4. Iran
5. Equatorial Guineau
6. Uzbekistan
7. Burma
8. Saudi Arabia
9. Cuba
10. Belarus


The authorities in Havana beat and imprisoned Calixto Ramón Martínez Arias, a reporter for the independent news agency Centro de Información Hablemos Press, on September 16 in connection with his coverage of a shipment of medicine and equipment that had been damaged, according to news reports.

Imprisoned in Cuba over time:

Blogger Yoani Sánchez, her husband, journalist Reinaldo Escobar, and blogger Agustín Díaz were held for 30 hours in October while en route to the trial of a man accused of killing political dissident Oswaldo Payá in a motor vehicle collision. Sánchez' high international profile has made her a frequent target of the government.

Harassment of Sánchez over time:


Sánchez becomes the first Cuban to blog under her own byline.


Sánchez says her blog is hacked and taken down for several days.


Sánchez and two other independent Cuban bloggers are detained, harassed, and assaulted by state security agents on their way to a peaceful march in Havana.


Sánchez is smeared as a “cybermercenary” on state television.

February 2012:

Sánchez is denied permission to travel abroad for the 19th time.

October 2012:

Sánchez is detained, along with Escobar and Díaz.

November 2012:

Sánchez and at least 15 other journalists and dissidents are detained.

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Slideshow: Year in Photos

Slideshow: Year in Photos

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