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European Union - Latin America27 May 2004

EU-Latin America summit in Mexico: Spotlight on Cuba, worst press freedom violator of the 58 participating states

Reporters Without Borders is urging the heads of state of the 58 countries attending the EU-Latin America and Caribbean summit in Guadalajara, Mexico on 28-29 May to press the Cuban delegation for the release of journalists jailed in Cuba - the region’s worst press freedom violator.

With 29 jailed journalists, of whom 27 were arrested during the "black spring" of 2003, Cuba is the world’s largest prison for the press. In Reporters Without Borders’ latest world press freedom rankings, published October 2003, Cuba is ranked second to last (165th) just ahead of North Korea.

Ahead of Cuba in 147th position is Colombia and Haiti ranked 100th, both countries also attending the summit. The international press freedom organisation has also made recommendations relating to these two countries.

Since several Latin-American states are ranked higher than some European countries, the ranking shows that respect for press freedom is not solely linked to economic development. Trinidad and Tobago in 5th place, Jamaica (21st) and Uruguay (25th) are ahead of Italy (53rd) and Spain (42nd). It also shows that this freedom is never won forever and must be defended everywhere.

Consult the full table

Cuba, Colombia, Haiti: the biggest prison, the biggest graveyard and ... the biggest hope for journalists

News not under government control is quite simply forbidden in Cuba, where 75 dissidents were arrested in March 2003. Among them were 27 journalists. Their rejection of government control of news was construed as an "act against the independence of the state". They were sentenced to jail terms of 14 to 27 years. With two of their colleagues already in jail, Cuba thus became the world’s biggest prison for journalists. President Fidel Castro, in power for 45 years, is seen by Reporters Without Borders as one of the world’s 37 press freedom ’predators’.

In Colombia, the press predators are the armed movements: paramilitary groups and guerrilla forces. Five journalists were killed for doing their job in 2003 and one journalist has already been murdered in 2004.

Colombia has become the continent’s biggest graveyard for the profession. This desperate situation is explained by the complete impunity enjoyed by the killers of journalists. The government has also turned itself into a potential threat to the media by adopting an anti-terrorist law that conflicts with protection of journalistic sources.

In Haiti, the fall of Jean-Bertrand Aristide has opened a new chapter for the media, who were threatened, assaulted and harassed by the president’s henchmen if they dared criticise him. For the families of Jean Dominique and Brignol Lindor, this change brings new hope, since supporters of the former president are suspected of the murder on the two journalists. The death on 7 March of Spanish journalist Ricardo Ortega however serves as a reminder that the danger has not passed. Aristide was also on Reporters Without Borders’ list of press ’predators’.


Reporters Without Borders calls on participating states at the Guadalajara summit to intervene:

-  with the Cuban delegation to press for the release of journalists jailed in Cuba,

-  with the Colombian authorities to prioritise the fight against the impunity enjoyed by murderers of journalists so that Colombian society’s right to be informed can be respected,

-  with the Haitian authorities to accord priority to solving the Jean Dominique and Brignol Lindor cases to re-establish the rule of law.

Reporters Without Borders also urges the 58 countries present in Guadalajara to endorse a statement condemning armed groups in Colombia for their abuses against the press.

In this country
20 May - Cuba
Anyone can browse the Internet... unless they are Cuban
15 May - Cuba
Journalist gets three-year jail sentence
24 February - Cuba
After a year of Raúl Castro as president, political opening still ignores imprisoned journalists
3 February - Cuba
As UN conducts universal periodic review, 205 political prisoners, including 23 journalists, await release.
3 October - Cuba
US finally issues visas to Prensa Latina’s two UN correspondents

in the annual report
Cuba - Annual Report 2008
Cuba - Annual report 2007
Cuba - Annual report 2006

In this country
15 May - Colombia
Former intelligence officials leak list of news media and journalists whose phones were tapped
28 April - Colombia
Radio reporter gunned down in Cauca department, probably in connection with his work
27 February - Colombia
Call for inter-american intervention in new phone-tap scandal
27 August - Colombia
Authorities use judicial proceedings to intimidate media
20 June - Colombia
Kidnapped journalist Mario Alfonso Puello released after four months in captivity

in the annual report
Colombia - Annual Report 2008
Colombia - Annual report 2007
Colombia - Annual report 2006

In this country
3 December - Haiti
Seven years after radio journalist’s murder, convicted killers still at large
13 May - Haiti
Finger pointed at US interposition force in the 2004 death of journalist Ricardo Ortega
11 April - Haiti
Responses from Sen. Rudolph Boulos and Harold Sévère to Reporters Without Borders release on Jean Dominique murder
25 January - Haiti
Victory over impunity “within reach” in Lindor murder after seven are convicted in absentia
13 December - Haiti
Two gang members get life for journalist’s murder, a third is acquitted

in the annual report
Haiti - Annual Report 2008
Haiti - Annual report 2007
Haiti - Annual report 2006

14 March 2008 - Cuba
No surrender by independent journalists, five years on from “black spring”
5 June 2007 - Venezuela
Closure of Radio Caracas Televisión consolidates media hegemony
22 May 2007 - Colombia
Paramilitary "black eagles" poised to swoop down on press

Americas press releases
3 June - United States
President Obama urged to raise freedom of expression in his Cairo speech
29 May - Venezuela
Open letter to President Hugo Chavez to protest about official hounding of Globovisión
27 May - Mexico
Crime reporter abducted and killed in Durango state
14 May - United States
Arraignment of suspected mastermind of Chauncey Bailey’s murder postponed again
14 May - United States
Obama opposes release of torture photos

Americas archives
2009 archives
2008 archives
2007 archives
2006 archives
2005 archives
2004 archives
2003 archives
2002 archives
2001 archives
2000 archives

Sign the petitions
Miguel Galván Gutiérrez
Fabio Prieto Llorente
United States
Chauncey Bailey
A petition to Raúl Castro