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CPJ Special Report: Chronicling Cuba, bloggers offer fresh hope

(CPJ/IFEX) - New York, September 10, 2009 - Against great odds, a vibrant culture of independent blogging and online journalism has emerged in Cuba. In a new report from the Committee to Protect Journalists, Carlos Lauría and María Salzar Ferro outline the development of Cuba's independent blogging community and examine whether the country is on the brink of a new era of greater media freedom or if a crackdown looms.

At least 25 independent, journalistic, and regularly updated blogs are being produced by Cuban writers, CPJ finds. Despite severe legal, economic, and practical restrictions - most Cubans are effectively barred from having individual Internet access - the number of independent journalistic blogs has grown since the emergence of the first few in 2007. The bloggers, mainly young adults from a variety of professions, critically examine the issues that Cubans face daily: food shortages, health care, education, housing problems, and lack of Internet access. Some have faced government harassment for their work.

"The issues addressed in these journalistic blogs are largely unexplored by the official press," write Lauría and Salazar Ferro. "And in Cuba, the official press has traditionally been the only source of news for most citizens."

In its report, CPJ calls on Cuban authorities to halt the harassment of bloggers, to remove all legal barriers to Internet access, and to release the 22 online journalists now imprisoned in Cuba. CPJ also urges international bloggers to publicize the work of the Cuban journalists, and it calls on technology companies to ensure their products are not used to restrict freedom of expression.

Click here to read the report
Click here to see the video

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