14ymedio, Havana, 7 October 2019 — For the second time in less than a month the independent press of Cuba has united in a complaint. This time it is a declaration signed by almost twenty digital publications and in which they denounce the repression against reporters while demanding respect and protection for the exercise of journalism.
The text, published Monday in unison in several news media, begins with a summary of the “systematic campaign of the Cuban Government with the purpose of silencing those who practice independent journalism,” a situation that also violates “the right of Cuban citizenship. to information of public interest,” they say.
The list of these aggressions enumerated in the declaration includes “arbitrary detentions, interrogations, psychological intimidation, verbal aggressions, house raids, bans on leaving the country, sexual harassment, cyberbullying, defamation, provocations on the street and confiscation of the means of work.”
The novelty of the document released on October 7 lies in the demands that make up the second part of the text, ranging from requesting the legalization of independent media to the repeal of laws that “restrict freedom of expression and the press.”
In the last decade and thanks to the emergence of new technologies, countless digital media out of the control of the Communist Party have emerged on the Island. Thematic magazines, sports publications and other focused social or environmental issues have followed the initial blogs.
An ecosystem of media has greater recognition every day among Cuban readers and has even become a source of information for the international press. Several prestigious awards, alliances with foreign publications and greater support from international organizations have consolidated their prestige, which has led the Cuban Government to increase repression against independent journalists.
The authorities continue to penalize the work of these media, which on Monday have demanded their right to exist. “Journalists are messengers of the facts whose knowledge and dissemination generate public discussion; we also constitute a diverse, legitimate and indigenous group.”
By way of commitment, the signatories agree to “exercise the profession of journalism with adherence to the truth and the search for facts of public interest.” But they clarify that “the achievement of these ends and the observance of ethical and professional values should not be imposed and are the sole responsibility of journalists and media.”
In mid-September, another statement signed by journalists and publishers denouncing violations of press freedom on the Island came to light. The text has already achieved more than a thousand signatures and this week a report has been presented before the Inter-American Press Society that delves into the same subject.
In the midst of this avalanche of demands by the journalism sector, the Havana’s Plaza of the Revolution continues to remain silent.
Here we present the full text with the list of signatories so far:
Declaration of independent media
First: Since January 2018, 183 attacks on journalists working in the country have been documented, according to national and international organizations; and in recent months there has been an ostensible increase in attacks;
Second: These attacks are part of a wave of repression against the independent, unofficial and non-state press, and include arbitrary detentions, interrogations, psychological intimidation, verbal aggressions, house searches, bans on leaving the country, sexual harassment, cyberbullying, defamation, provocations on public roads and confiscation of the means of work, among others;
Third: These attacks are part of a systematic campaign of the Cuban Government with the purpose of silencing those who practice independent journalism. In turn, these aggressions curtail the right of Cuban citizens to information of public interest and, therefore, prevent them from accessing and participating in decision-making;
Fourth: To contribute to the economic, social and cultural development of any contemporary society and Cuba among them, a public, open discussion of events is required, without obstacles or barriers, participatory, assertive, based on the facts and evidence, guided by the analysis intelligent, continuous, rational and calm;
Fifth: Journalists are messengers of the facts whose knowledge and dissemination generate public discussion; we also constitute a diverse, legitimate and indigenous group;
Sixth: Having a free press in Cuba is a fundamental condition for the country to process and better resolve its conflicts, challenges and threats in pursuit of the welfare and interest of Cuban society, of which we are a part;
Seventh: In accordance with the third article of the Constitution of the Republic of Cuba, sovereignty resides in the people, from which emanates all the power of the State; therefore, as journalists and part of society, we make the following statements and demands in the exercise of that sovereignty and our free, autonomous and collective will.
First: Condemnation. We reject systematic attacks on freedom of the press and expression against several journalists by the authorities themselves: we suffer illegal detentions for long or short periods of time; we are sentenced to prison, subjected to interrogations and psychological torture techniques; our homes have been raided; we are prohibited from leaving the country; we suffer constant harassment, provocations and seizures of the means of work, among other actions.
Second: Legalization. We request that the Cuban authorities grant legal character to the exercise of journalism exercise in the country and to independent, non-state media.
Third: Repeal of laws. We demand the repeal of any law, administrative act, decree, resolution and regulation that restricts the freedom of expression or of the press of any journalist and media.
Fourth: Right to inform. We demand for all Cuban people the right to inform and receive truthful and objective information; the freedom to express and spread their thoughts and opinions; the freedom to found mass media; the express prohibition of all forms of censorship and the legal protection of information sources.
Fifth: Transparency. We demand that the Government make available to citizens and journalists all the information generated by its various instances and branches of power, including open, free, comprehensive, timely, permanent and primary data that facilitate citizen oversight of its management. We also demand that it effectively prevent prior censorship, restrictions on the circulation of media content, the arbitrary imposition of information, obstacles against the free flow of information and limitations on the free exercise and mobilization of journalists.
Sixth: Protection. We demand that the authorities prohibit illegal detentions, pressures, use and exercise of any tool, mechanism, mode of blackmail and coercion against journalists, because of the issues they investigate, what they think, say and publish; and this includes, but is not limited to: prison sentences, temporary detentions, home searches, bans on leaving the country or entering, psychological torture, destruction or confiscation of their work materials, any type of violence or intimidation that restricts freedom of expression, thought, conscience and the press. We also demand that those who breach this duty of protection be punished.
Seventh: No discrimination. We demand that the authorities prohibit discrimination against journalists and the media because of their exercise of journalism.
Eighth: Commitment. Journalists and non-state and independent media commit ourselves to Cuban society to exercise the profession of journalism with adherence to the truth and the search for facts of public interest; to adopt internal mechanisms that guarantee the verification and accuracy of our information, as well as objectivity, impartiality and fairness; and to establish a clear differentiation between information, opinion and commercial messages. The achievement of these ends and the observance of ethical and professional values should not be imposed and are the sole responsibility of journalists and media.
Havana, Cuba, 7 October 2019.
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