Americas / 2011

CPJ Blog

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The press silenced, Nuevo Laredo tries to find voice

December 22, 2011 10:58 AM ET

You don't notice it at first. Not with the people seemingly moving as normal on the sidewalks and the happy recorded music blaring across the plaza in front of city hall to announce the annual cowboy parade. No, at first Nuevo Laredo looks like a regular border town, until...

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Journalists killed: Inside the numbers

December 20, 2011 12:00 AM ET

CPJ today released its annual tally of the journalists killed around the world. This is always a somber occasion for us as we chronicle the grim toll, remember friends who have been lost, and recommit ourselves to justice. It's also a time when we are asked questions about our research...

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Ríodoce attack shows need for denial-of-service defenses

December 12, 2011 11:25 AM ET

A founder of Mexican news weekly Ríodoce, Javier Valdez Cárdenas, traveled to New York in November to receive CPJ's International Press Freedom Award at our annual benefit dinner. No sooner had he returned to Mexico than Ríodoce's website was thrown offline by a denial of service (DOS) attack, in which...

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Clinton must tread carefully in Burma

November 30, 2011 1:24 PM ET

When U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton meets this week with Burmese President Thein Sein, opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, and senior ranking members of the military establishment, she conspicuously will not have the opportunity to meet with journalist Sithu Zeya. Sithu was detained by police after recording...

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What we have learned from fighting impunity

November 23, 2011 11:50 AM ET

Press freedom groups worldwide are banding together today, the International Day to End Impunity, to demand justice for hundreds of journalists murdered for their work. On this day, the Committee to Protect Journalists and dozens of other members of the International Freedom of Information Exchange are remembering journalists killed, and...

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Awardees to their colleagues: Buck the system

November 23, 2011 11:49 AM ET

The Grand Ballroom of the Waldorf Astoria might seem like an odd venue to stage a call for resistance. Nine hundred people in tuxedos and gowns. Champagne and cocktails. Bill Cunningham snapping photos. This combination is generally more likely to coax a boozy nostalgia than foment a revolution. But...

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A call to continue the struggle against impunity

November 23, 2011 11:47 AM ET

Last night, hundreds of journalists and members of New York's press freedom community met at the Waldorf Astoria hotel in Manhattan for the Committee to Protect Journalists' XXI annual International Press Freedom Awards. At the event--celebrating the extraordinary courage of five journalists from across the globe--guests and award recipients...

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At Occupy protests, U.S. journalists arrested, assaulted

November 11, 2011 3:01 PM ET

As the Occupy movement has spread beyond Wall Street, at least seven U.S. journalists have been detained and one television crew attacked by U.S. law enforcement officers during turbulent encounters between police and protesters. Occupy demonstrators have attacked journalists in two other instances, including an assault this week in...

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Mexican cartels keep up social media intimidation

November 11, 2011 10:25 AM ET

The dissemination of reports and graphic photos of a dead man, reportedly decapitated and left in the border city of Nuevo Laredo with a warning that he was murdered for using a chat room, appears to be the latest attempt by organized crime to intimidate social media users and...

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Secretive Ortega frustrates Nicaraguan press

November 7, 2011 1:08 PM ET

It used to be that covering the Nicaraguan presidency was a coveted job for reporters. Now, it's a frustrating exercise that borders on stenography....

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Appeal against Risen keeps source protection in focus

October 25, 2011 1:00 PM ET

A reporter's right to protect confidential sources, a topic of debate both in the U.S. and internationally, will undergo another round of legal scrutiny after federal prosecutors formally appealed a decision shielding journalist James Risen's sources in a CIA leak case....

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Recalling Laura Pollán, leader of Cuba's Ladies in White

October 17, 2011 2:36 PM ET

Cuban human rights defender Laura Pollán, who died Friday from respiratory complications at a Havana hospital, fought a mighty battle against the Cuban government for almost a decade. Pollán, 63, leaves behind her husband, the award-winning independent journalist Héctor Maseda Gutiérrez, and a daughter. She also leaves a legacy...

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Colombian journalists: between threats, exile

October 7, 2011 4:10 PM ET

To be a journalist in Colombia, in a city like Medellín, is not easy -- even less so if you cover issues related to narcotrafficking. Despite efforts by the authorities to control outbreaks of violence linked to drug trafficking, especially in the city's poorest neighborhoods, the situation isn't improving....

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Mexico murder may be social media watershed

September 30, 2011 10:15 AM ET

María Elizabeth Macías Castro's killers made sure their actions were understood. In a macabre, carefully orchestrated mise-en-scene, they placed her body in front of a poster with the ominous note. Nearby they left a computer keyboard, with a pair of headphones on her decapitated head....

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Fighting abusive litigation against journalists

September 29, 2011 10:44 AM ET

CPJ and others who defend the rights of journalists are rightly alarmed when public officials and other powerful figures instigate baseless criminal prosecutions that can send journalists to prison and force them to pay heavy fines. A case pending in the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, Fontevecchia & D'Amico vs....

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President Correa is not a criminal (but he is intolerant)

September 27, 2011 1:20 PM ET

In a truly bizarre exchange that took place at Columbia University Friday, Ecuadoran President Rafael Correa responded to a question from CPJ's Senior Program Coordinator Carlos Lauría by calling him a liar....

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Correa lambastes press in Columbia speech

September 26, 2011 2:35 PM ET

"Sir, you are lying and a liar." With these words, uttered before an audience of around 150 people, Ecuadoran President Rafael Correa dispelled any doubt as to whether he might cool his explosive rhetoric in the face of criticism. His harsh words came in response to a critical question...

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Motive unclear, but murders become rallying point

September 19, 2011 4:39 PM ET

The brutal, September 1 murders of two women from the world of mass communications drew international headlines as the latest attack against the Mexican news media. But the sensational case--the two were found strangled in a park in the heart of Mexico City--illustrates the complexities of determining motives amid the...

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Colombian journalists in Arauca pressured from all sides

September 14, 2011 2:17 PM ET

Although a long-running army offensive has improved security in much of Colombia, the oil-rich eastern province of Arauca remains a hot zone--for both combatants and journalists. This week, for example, the National Liberation Army (ELN), the smaller of the country's two guerrilla groups, called a transportation strike, effectively shutting...

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In response, Ecuadoran secretary misses the point

September 13, 2011 5:50 PM ET

Back in April, before leaving on a research trip to Ecuador, I contacted Communications Secretary Fernando Alvarado by phone and email in hopes of meeting with him to discuss press freedom concerns that have emerged under President Rafael Correa. The secretary was among the high-ranking administration officials who did...

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In Ecuador, CPJ highlights press freedom decline

September 2, 2011 7:15 PM ET

The turning point in President Rafael Correa's aggressive campaign against the private media, Ecuadoran journalists say, came in July with the criminal defamation convictions of four managers of the Guayaquil-based daily El Universo. Bad went to worse when the paper's former opinion editor and three of its executives were...

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In lawsuit, Chinese writers allege Cisco aids government

August 24, 2011 5:20 PM ET

Three Chinese writers who have spent time in prison for articles published online are suing California-based Cisco Systems Inc., according to international news reports. The suit accuses the company of providing information and technology to Chinese authorities that facilitated the writers' detentions--allegations that Cisco flatly denies. Chinese security officials...

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Left for dead in Haiti: How CPJ helped one journalist

August 19, 2011 2:37 PM ET

Ten years ago I joined the staff of the Committee to Protect Journalists to launch the Journalist Assistance program, an initiative, as CPJ board member Gene Roberts describes, developed to establish a standing direct response mechanism for journalists facing threats and attacks. When I left the position in 2009,...

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A global partnership to assist journalists in distress

August 15, 2011 3:39 PM ET

One of the most rewarding parts of my job at Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE) for the last eight years has been my work on our Journalists in Distress program. Through this program I have had quick glimpses into the lives of hundreds of courageous journalists from countries...

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Assisting journalists in Cuba: Hurdles in prison and beyond

August 12, 2011 4:53 PM ET

In mid-2006, CPJ's Journalist Assistance program began sending regular remittances to the families of independent Cuban journalists in prison. By CPJ's count, of the 29 journalists jailed during a massive crackdown in 2003, 24 were still in prison at the time--making Cuba the world's second-worst jailer of journalists in...

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Journalists flee Veracruz as cartels crack down

July 29, 2011 3:54 PM ET

In the port city of Veracruz, Mexico, reporters are fleeing for their lives or are in hiding, according to Notiver, the city's principal newspaper, and local reporters. This flight began on Wednesday after the decapitated body of Yolanda Ordaz de la Cruz, a police beat reporter for Notiver for nearly...

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Journalists take stage: Q&A with 'Record' playwright

July 17, 2011 5:24 PM ET

The true stories of journalists from Mexico, Sri Lanka, Russia, the United States, and the Occupied Palestinian Territories will hit the stage July 20 at London's Arcola Theatre. "On the Record," which runs through August 13, examines the careers of six journalists, the risks they face, and their determination...

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Google+ for journalists at risk

July 1, 2011 2:25 PM ET

When they're creating new features, software designers talk in terms of "use cases." A use case describes steps that future customers might perform with a website. "Starting a group with friends," would be a use case for Facebook. "Buying a book" would be case for Amazon's designers. ...

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Death threats force Colombian reporter to relocate

June 30, 2011 1:31 PM ET

I was on assignment in a slum in the town of Aguachica, Cesar Province, on February 24 when gunmen cut me off and threatened to kill me. "Journalist, shut up or die," said one of the men, who identified themselves as members of "Los Urabeños," a criminal gang that...

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CPJ's exiled journalists survey: Behind the numbers

June 20, 2011 12:00 AM ET

In 2007, my colleague Karen Phillips suggested we do something to mark World Refugee Day. Initially planning to publish a brief statement, I set about reviewing our data for background, checking in with older journalist cases about their current situation and looking broadly for trends to highlight. As the...

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Justice served in Chauncey Bailey murder

June 9, 2011 7:30 PM ET

After a lengthy police investigation that involved a number of questionable irregularities, a jury in Oakland, Calif., today found two men guilty of the 2007 murder of journalist Chauncey Bailey. Yusuf Bey IV and Antoine Mackey were both convicted of first-degree degree murder in Bailey's slaying....

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In journalist security field, maturing and understanding

June 7, 2011 8:57 AM ET

Journalist security is still a maturing field, but news organizations are devoting more attention to preparing their reporters and photographers for the dangers particular to the profession. That means understanding risks that are constantly evolving. The brutal attack on CBS correspondent Lara Logan at a Cairo demonstration has drawn...

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The best day of the last 2,684: A Cuban prisoner deported

May 31, 2011 3:23 PM ET

When I awoke on the morning of July 8, 2010, in the Guamajal Prison in Villa Clara, I couldn't have imagined that five days later I was going to be landing at Barajas International Airport in Spain, accompanied by five of my comrades....

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Latin America democracy violated by killings

May 31, 2011 1:54 PM ET

Lately, we have come to expect violence against journalists in certain regions, such as the Middle East. But here at CPJ, 2011 has also been troubling for the number of journalists killed in an entirely different part of the world, the Americas. ...

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From a Cuban youth movement, to journalism, to jail

May 25, 2011 10:40 AM ET

I joined the political civilist youth movement in 1991. Curiously, what I remember most from that period is how my apprehensions led me to disguise myself with a hat and glasses when traveling from my town of Artemisa to Havana to meet with other activists. These feelings of fear,...

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Peru candidates pledge to respect press freedom--will they?

May 6, 2011 11:05 AM ET

Keiko Fujimori and Ollanta Humala, the two candidates for the June 5 presidential runoff in Peru, barely raised freedom of expression issues during the political campaign. So Friday's event organized by the regional press group Instituto Prensa y Sociedad (IPYS) in Lima provided a great opportunity to measure their...

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State Department falls short in first Pearl Act reports

April 15, 2011 5:23 PM ET

The State Department released its annual Country Reports on Human Rights this week. In preparing this year's reports, Foggy Bottom had to comply for the first time with the Daniel Pearl Freedom of the Press Act. Signed into law in May 2010, the Pearl Act requires descriptions, identifications, and assessments...

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Writer threatened during Bailey murder trial

April 13, 2011 1:20 PM ET

As the trial of suspects charged with murdering Oakland, Calif., reporter and editor Chauncey Bailey continued, a reporter who has written dozens of articles about the case was himself threatened as he investigated allegations of real estate fraud by a business tied to the suspects on trial....

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In Mexico, a chance for justice

April 11, 2011 12:39 PM ET

"We have a big story coming out tomorrow," Adela Navarro Bello, the co-editor of the muckraking Tijuana weekly Zeta, said when I visited the newspaper last Thursday. "There's a breakthrough in the investigation into the murder of Ortiz Franco."...

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Cuban journalist Fernández Saínz: I was a reporter in prison

April 8, 2011 11:22 AM ET

I went to prison for practicing independent journalism in Cuba. As soon as you get there, you must prepare yourself to narrate the horrors of the hellhole you've ended up in. And Cuban prisons are horrendous. But the horrors start not one step back in the penal tribunal, not...

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Hugo Chávez, free expression prize winner

April 1, 2011 3:18 PM ET

Just as the awardee himself anticipated (in his subconscious, after all, he is no idiot), this "freedom of expression award" stirred up disapproval and indignation across the board. Notwithstanding, no one should question the decision of Argentina's University of La Plata. If anyone has freedom of expression in Venezuela,...

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For Cuban blogger Sánchez, a government 'distinction'

March 25, 2011 12:28 PM ET

Acclaimed Cuban blogger Yoani Sánchez has had her share of honors lately. Last year alone, her blogging, which offers a personal and critical view of life in Cuba, was honored by the Dutch Prince Claus Fund, the International Press Institute, and the Danish Centre for Political Studies. This week,...

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In breakthrough, Mexican media sign crime accord

March 24, 2011 4:59 PM ET

Major Mexican press organizations agreed today on a code for coverage of organized crime, a step seen as a national breakthrough that could set professional standards well into the future. Though organized crime has been the major story in Mexico for several years, coverage has been haphazard based on time,...

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Remembering Bernard Estrade, a friend and AFP legend

March 21, 2011 3:44 PM ET

Legendary Agence France-Presse correspondents Bernard Estrade died last week in Paris after a long illness. He was one of the great reporters of his era and a great friend of CPJ....

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A not so dark Cuban Black Spring anniversary

March 18, 2011 4:17 PM ET

March 18 is not a day we usually look forward to at CPJ. On this day in 2003, the Cuban government launched a massive crackdown on the independent press resulting in the jailing of 29 reporters. But this year we have reason to feel encouraged. On March 4, with...

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Cuban journalist survives 'hell' and emerges ready to fight

March 18, 2011 2:05 PM ET

On March 18, 2003, our people endured one of the worst episodes in Cuba's history. The peaceable political dissident community, human rights defenders, trade unionists, and independent journalists, along with representatives of the emergent and democratic civil society--74 men and one woman--were the victims of the most absolute, merciless,...

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A new spring, and a couple's devotion blossoms anew

March 18, 2011 12:18 PM ET

When I wake up and sense my husband's body next to mine, I ask myself if I'm dreaming or if it is true that he has returned to our home.Eight years have passed since 75 Cubans were uprooted from their homes for thinking differently than the governmental discourse and...

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At SXSW Interactive, theory and reality converge

March 17, 2011 5:44 PM ET

I've just returned from a hectic week at SXSW Interactive, the annual gathering of digital technologists and creators in Austin, Texas. Conferences like this are often moments of isolation from the rest of the world, where attendees become consumed with the trivia of the event itself. But because many of...

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Mexican court rules critical documentary can be shown

March 11, 2011 4:13 PM ET

When a federal judge issued an order last week to suspend screenings of documentary that investigates incompetence in the Mexican judicial system, it looked like the film might be falling victim to the very system it criticizes. The film, "Presumed Guilty" ("Presunto Culpable" in Spanish), exposes flaws in the...

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Moments before arrest in Cuba

March 8, 2011 10:31 AM ET

On March 18, 2003, I got up early as usual, connected my shortwave radio receiver, and tuned into a number of radio stations in the south of Florida in search of the day's most important news. As always, the radio interference was brutal and made it hard to hear....

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After 'trial by fire,' Cuba's Maseda back to journalism

March 3, 2011 12:44 PM ET

Almost three weeks after being released from jail following eight years of inhumane treatment in Cuba's infamous prison system, CPJ's 2008 International Press Freedom award winner Héctor Maseda Gutiérrez said he is committed to going back to independent journalism. "That's my will, and I have decided to do it...

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Brazilian officials tell CPJ they see judicial censorship

February 23, 2011 5:44 PM ET

Government officials in the administration of Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff acknowledged that judicial censorship is inhibiting the work of the local press during meetings with CPJ on Thursday and Friday. At the same time, they said that due to the separation of powers under the Brazilian constitution, there is...

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Attacks launch: Judicial censorship strikes a chord in Brazil

February 17, 2011 12:09 PM ET

During the presentation of our annual survey, Attacks on the Press, in Sao Paulo, there was clear concern about the ability of the local media to report on issues of public interest without judicial interference. Journalists for three of the largest national dailies--O Estado de Sao Paulo, Folha de...

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Documenting sexual violence against journalists

February 16, 2011 3:46 PM ET

The news of the sexual assault against CPJ board member and CBS correspondent Lara Logan hit us hard on Tuesday. At CPJ, we work daily to advocate on behalf of journalists under attack in all kinds of horrific situations around the world. Because of Lara's untiring work with our...

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Is Chávez promoting free expression? Check the facts

February 14, 2011 2:51 PM ET

Venezuelan Information Minister Andrés Izarra declared on the state television channel VTV last week that "never has so much been done to guarantee, promote, and drive freedom of expression than in the government of President Hugo Chávez." Izarra needs to hire a fact-checker. ...

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Aristegui's dismissal is troubling and inappropriate

February 9, 2011 4:58 PM ET

On Friday, opposition legislators in Mexico disrupted a congressional session by raising a banner with an image of President Felipe Calderón and a message that read: "Would you let a drunk drive your car? No, right? So why would you let one drive your country?" Radio MVS' Carmen Aristegui,...

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Coronell leaves Colombia again, this time for opportunity

February 9, 2011 3:43 PM ET

In 2005, a series of chilling death threats compelled award-winning Colombian journalist Daniel Coronell to leave Bogotá with his family for what ended up being a two-year stay in California. Today, more than three years after his return from exile, Coronell and his family are moving back to the...

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A Cuban journalist in exile: Unkept promises

February 1, 2011 11:30 AM ET

The clouds of exile are twice as bitter. Being forced from your birthplace and into legal limbo in the land of your grandparents where you're met by complete official abandonment only deepens the wounds. My gloominess has nothing to do with the affection and solidarity shown by the Spanish...

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Haitian journalist Montas levels charges against Baby Doc

January 20, 2011 4:43 PM ET

Former dictator Jean Claude "Baby Doc" Duvalier is facing some blowback after breezing into Haiti last Sunday following a 25-year absence. On Wednesday, prominent Haitian journalist and former UN spokesperson Michele Montas joined three others in filing criminal complaints against the former dictator who returned to the country Sunday,...

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On earthquake's anniversary, Haiti's media recovering

January 12, 2011 4:31 PM ET

One year after the devastating January 12, 2010, earthquake that killed more than 200,000 people and crippled Haiti's media infrastructure, the country's media have made significant strides toward recovery even as they face enormous ongoing challenges. ...

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For Cuban dissidents, prison is the only destination

January 11, 2011 10:14 AM ET

I was born beneath the yoke of a tyranny, now more than 50 years old, in which prison is the only destination for its deterrents. I first came across this destination in 1997, when I was sentenced to five years in prison for the alleged crime of committing an...

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