The Other Anniversary

CPJ draws spotlight to Cuban journalists

As it turns out, this week marks not only the fifth anniversary of the U.S.-invasion of Iraq, but also a little noticed crackdown on Cuban journalists by Fidel Castro’s government. On Tuesday in Madrid, the Committee to Protect Journalists unveiled an engaging report detailing what’s called the “Black Spring” and the risks faced by journalists who practice in Cuba:

During a three-day span in March 2003, as the world focused on the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, the Cuban government ordered the abrupt arrest of 75 dissidents—29 of them independent journalists. All of the reporters and editors were convicted in one-day trials and handed sentences that could leave some in prison for the rest of their lives. They were accused of acting against the “integrity and sovereignty of the state” or of collaborating with foreign media for the purpose of “destabilizing the country.” Under Cuban law, that meant any journalist who published abroad, particularly in the United States, had no defense.

Only nine of those journalists have been released. The rest remain in prison, and have been joined by others.

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Clint Hendler is the managing editor of Mother Jones, and a former deputy editor of CJR.