Freedom House Rates Cuba Among the Worst Countries for the Practice of Journalism

According to Freedom House, the Government “could not prevent an improvement in the scope and quality of the information available.”

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 28 April 2017 — Freedom House has again placed Cuba among the worst countries to exercise journalism in and continues to assign the 91 points the American NGO gave it last year, according to its annual Freedom of the Press Report, published on Friday.

Every year the document evaluates the quality of the journalistic profession in 199 countries and territories analyzed on a scale of 0 to 100, where the higher the number the lower the press freedom.

According to the NGO, 31% of the countries have a “free” press, 36% have a “partially free” press, and in the remaining 33% there is no press freedom.

Thus, of the 66 countries in which Freedom House believes there is not a free right to information, Cuba is among the ten worse that have attained the highest scores. North Korea and Turkmenistan lead the “worst” list with 98 points, followed by Uzbekistan (95), Crimea (94), Eritrea (94), Cuba (91), Equatorial Guinea (91), Azerbaijan (90), Iran (90) and Syria (90).

“Although Cuba remains one of the most closed media environments in the world, several new news websites emerged on the island in 2016, and the more established outlets expanded their reach,” the NGO said. “In response, authorities stepped up arrests and intimidation of critical journalists, seizing their materials and preventing some from traveling abroad to trainings or conferences. However, the regime was unable to prevent an improvement in the range and quality of information available.”

In the breakdown of indicators taken into account for the preparation of the report, Cuba obtained 28 negative points out of 30 in the Legal Environment, 35 out of 40 in the Political Environment and 28 out of 30 in the Economic Environment, and, in addition, the report notes that the internet penetration index on the island is only 31%.

However, despite the low levels of freedom of the press on the island, Freedom House has warned that “Global press freedom declined to its lowest point in 13 years in 2016 amid unprecedented threats to journalists and media outlets in major democracies and new moves by authoritarian states to control the media, including beyond their borders.”

This Wednesday, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) also placed Cuba in 173rd place in its 2017 World Press Classification, where, according to the NGO’s cataloging system, the island is two places below last year, in the worst area of ​​the list (colored in black) and next to “the worst dictatorships and totalitarian regimes in Asia and the Middle East.”

Cuba is the only country on the American continent and the Caribbean that is in the part of the list very near to the end.

The analysis of the quality of freedom of the press in Cuba published by Freedom House and RSF contrast with the report Attacks on the Press published Tuesday by the Committee for the Protection of Journalists (CPJ), according to which “Cuba’s media landscape has begun opening up in recent years,” thanks to a timid increase in Internet connectivity and a generation of journalists” who are critical of, yet still support, socialist ideas.”