Cuba | Freedom House

Freedom of the Press



Freedom of the Press 2004

2004 Scores

Press Status

Not Free

Press Freedom Score
(0 = best, 100 = worst)


Political Environment
(0 = best, 40 = worst)


Economic Environment
(0 = best, 30 = worst)


After 45 years in power, Fidel Castro's government shows no sign of allowing independent voices to emerge in the Cuban media. On March 18, 2003, authorities arrested 27 independent journalists, all of whom were subsequently given sham trials and prison sentences of up to 28 years on charges of collaborating with "imperialist interests." Reporters Without Borders has since labeled Cuba "the world's largest prison for journalists." The spring crackdown took place in conjunction with the arrest of 50 dissident political activists, most of them prominent spokespeople for a citizens' initiative for democratic reform, the Varela Project. Consequently, the government has undone the small hints of progress toward press freedom in Cuba that had taken hold in 2002, when Jimmy Carter arrived on a state visit and gave an unprecedented live, nationally broadcast, televised speech offering praise of the dissident movement and independent press. Governments and human rights advocacy groups worldwide, including many prominent European leaders, joined in strongly condemning the arrests of these journalists and democratic activists by Castro's government. All media outlets in Cuba must be funded by the government, and all reporting is controlled for ideological content, which must be in agreement with official government positions. A few isolated independent journalists remain, but their situation is precarious, and they must practice self-censorship to avoid imprisonment.