New York, September 28 – Internet restrictions are curbing independent voices in Cuba and leaving Cubans disconnected from the rest of the world, the Committee to Protect Journalists found in a special report released today. Only a fraction of Cuba’s 11 million people have internet access, and it is expensive, slow, and heavily censored, CPJ found.
CPJ’s report, “Connecting Cuba: More space for criticism but restrictions slow press freedom progress,” found that while independent journalism has been on the rise for the past five years, the state continues to restrict the internet, monitor users, and harass those who step outside set boundaries.
“The internet is the easiest means for independent journalists such as bloggers to spread news and inform the public,” said Carlos Lauría, CPJ’s senior program coordinator for the Americas. “Unfortunately the internet is also easy for states to monitor and control. For Cuba’s independent media to expand and flourish, the state needs to dramatically increase access and loosen the restrictions in place.”
Cuba’s sole state internet provider charges high prices and only offers services in a limited number of public access centers, Wi-Fi hotspots, and workplaces. Slow connections and limited access can cripple journalists’ ability both to produce and disseminate content. Those who are critical of the state told CPJ that they fear surveillance and that their websites may be blocked. The report examines the innovative ways in which journalists distribute content, such as with USBs sticks and CDs.
The report was produced by CPJ’s Americas program and includes a foreword by Ernesto Londoño, a member of The New York Times editorial board who has written extensively about Cuba. The report includes recommendations to the Cuban government and to the Organization of American States, including calls for the government to amend a restrictive legal framework that bans privately owned media and to make internet access more affordable.
CPJ is an independent, nonprofit organization that works to safeguard press freedom worldwide.
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The report is available in English and Spanish.