Cuba remains, year in and year out, the worst country for press freedom in Latin America.
Television, radio, and newspapers are all closely monitored by the government. The Constitution prohibits privately owned press. Tele Rebelde and Cubavision are the country’s most important television networks, and Radio Reloj is the most popular radio station. Granma is the leading newspaper, and like all media, it is under state control. Independent journalists, for their part, are kept under surveillance by agents who aim to lessen their ability to move about, and subject the reporters to interrogation and delete information in their possession.
Miguel Díaz Canel, a protegé of Raúl Castro, replaced the latter in 2019 as the country’s president, and then as first secretary of the Cuban Communist Party. Tied to the Castro family lineage that has ruled since 1959, he maintains virtually total control over information.
The government controls internet access. Although bloggers and citizen-journalists see a space for freedom on the web, they navigate at their own risk, and are frequently imprisoned or forced into exile. In 2021, new regulations that flatly violate the rights of free expression, information, and association in the cyber-sphere, made the principle of an open, free and inclusive internet an even more distant dream.
The Covid-19 pandemic and the strengthening of US sanctions are forcing Cuba into its worst economic crisis in 30 years, pushing many Cubans to try to emigrate by any means possible.
The open dissidence of the San Isidro movement in November and December of 2020, in addition to mass demonstrations on July 11, 2021, unleashed a wave of fierce repression not seen since the Black Spring of 2003.
Arrests, arbitrary detentions, threats of imprisonment, persecution and harassment, illegal raids of homes, confiscation and destruction of equipment – all this is the daily lot for journalists who do not follow the Castroist party line. Likewise, officials control foreign journalists’ coverage by granting accreditation selectively, and expelling reporters considered “too negative” toward the regime.