Caribbean islands

The region that Global Parachute delineates as the Caribbean Islands includes the countries of Bahamas, Turks and Caicos Islands, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Jamaica, Cayman Islands and Puerto Rico.

In terms of press freedom within the Caribbean region, most attention focuses on Cuba. When the last of 29 journalists jailed in a notorious Black Spring 2003 crackdown was finally freed this year, it signaled to many the end of a dark era. But, according to CPJ, Cuban authorities are still persecuting independent journalists through arbitrary arrests, beatings, and intimidation. CPJ found more than 50 instances of repression in a two-month period.

The Cuban government persists in aggressively persecuting critical journalists with methods that include arbitrary arrests, short-term detentions, beatings, smear campaigns, surveillance, and social sanctions.

The Overseas Press Club Freedom of the Press Committee, which writes letters on behalf of journalists and a free press globally, wrote a letter to the Cuban government on April 20 stating in part, "the release of Pedro Argüelles Morán earlier this month has to be welcomed as the end of an appalling ordeal for all the journalists arrested in March, 2003... ." The Committee urged Cuba to consider allowing the free flow of information to bring the country into the company of almost all American republics.

While just 13 percent of the Cuban population has access to the Internet, some information is being exchanged with the persistent efforts of bloggers like Laritza Diversant who has struggled against major obstacles to become a major pain to the Cuban government. For her work, Diversant has suffered reprisals, including confiscation of her passport.

The OPC Freedom of the Press Committee also turned its attention to Haiti in February when it urged the justice minister for a full investigation of the murder of Jean Richard Louis Charles, a 30-year-old Radio Kiskeya journalist who had just left his bank when he was shot in the head and shoulder and killed. His murder may be a case of robbery unrelated to his work as a reporter, but his work for Radio Kiskeya -- one of Port-au-Prince’s most popular radio stations -- gives his killing special visibility.

Violence toward journalists persists throughout the region with a journalist murdered in Dominican Republic in August. The body of José Agustín Silvestre, a Dominican journalist who ran a magazine and hosted a television programa and was often critical of the government, was found after he was seized by gunmen in the southeastern city of La Romana, according to local press reports.

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