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ICC Note

Whenever a government begins cracking down on the press, this usually means that it has started or will start to crack down on religion – specifically Christianity.

New Crackdown On Press Underway In Cuba , Rights Groups Say

By Mark Fitzgerald

Editor & Publisher

To read the full story, click here: New Crackdown on Press Underway in Cuba, Rights Groups Say

CHICAGO (February 22, 2006) — Almost three years after the notorious mass arrests and show trials of 75 independent journalists, librarians and others, Fidel Castro’s Cuba is once more cracking down harshly on the nation’s tiny independent press, free-press groups say.

In recent days, the alarm about a wave of violence, threats and official persecution against the press has been raised by such groups as the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) in New York City , the Inter American Press Association (IAPA) in Miami , and Reporters Without Borders (RSF for its initials in French) in Paris .

“This series of persecutory measures taken against dissident journalists could very well auger a new ‘Black Spring'”, RSF said in a statement released Thursday.

Black Spring is the name some have given to the crackdown unleashed on March 18, 2003 that ended with 75 people, including 26 independent journalists, sentenced in brief trials to prison terms ranging up to 25 years. By RSF’s count, Cuba currently hold 24 journalists in prison, including those arrested before or after the 2003 crackdown.

Jorge Olivera Castillo of the news agency Havana Press was sentenced to 18 years in prison in 2003 but released for health reasons in December of 2004. RSF says he was summoned to a municipal court this Tuesday and told he could not leave the capital–though he has a U.S.-issued visa to come to America .

Olivera Castillo has been assigned to a “work center,” and must report to a state agency that “enforces the country’s official ideological position,” RSF said. “If he fails to respect the court’s conditions, he will automatically be returned to prison,” the group said, adding that he told an RSF correspondent after the court hearing that he is determined to continue working as a journalist.

Elsewhere, on 13 February, the independent journalist Oscar Sanchez Madán was physically attacked by unnamed assailants, RSF reported. And on Feb. 17, he was threatened by the head of the Committee for the Defense of the Revolution (CDR), a government-sponsored organization that watches for signs of dissent in neighborhoods, for remarks he made to the U.S. government-operated Radio Marti.

Last weekend, the home of Gilberto Manuel González Delgado, director of the Notilibre news agency in Havana , was searched for two hours by a state security and two CDR members, the Miami-based Cubanet reported. They seized a typewriter and some documents, and warned he could be charged under Law 88–the catch-all “economic sovereignty protection” law used to prosecute the March 2003 arrestees.

To read the full story, click here: New Crackdown on Press Underway in Cuba, Rights Groups Say