Under the usual conditions of news censorship, a swell of propaganda and harassment of independent reporters, journalism has experienced a momentous event: the publication of two issues of a bimonthly magazine published by the Márquez Sterling Journalists Society. The publication, entitled De Cuba, was first published last December in a makeshift way, and later a second issue came out. Both editions, with a total of about 400 copies, are being distributed by the independent library project, which has been extended to all the provinces. Despite the modesty of the effort, the importance of De Cuba is that it is intended for the Cuban reader who lives on the island, with the intention of opening a window of press freedom in the censored internal environment. The distribution of De Cuba has occurred at a time of a surge of alternative magazines and bulletins, assisted by access to computers and photocopy machines and the help of organizations and individuals abroad. In the past year, the bulletins Trabajador Cubano, published by independent trade unionists, and Nueva Izquierda, of the dissident Corriente Socialista Democrática Cubana, have come out at irregular intervals in Havana. At the same time, the first two issues of the magazine Perfil Social have been published with the sponsorship of the Jesús Yáñez Pelletier Foundation. Another important source of alternative publications has developed in Camagüey province. The agency El Mayor and the Journalists’ Colegio have just launched the magazine Luz de Cuba for a domestic audience. El Mayor has been publishing a bulletin of news and commentary for the past year, and it broadcasts a weekly television newscast, with very sparse resources, that deals with local events ignored by official propaganda. Meanwhile, the magazine Fueros has begun publication in Santiago de Cuba with political and cultural topics. This climate of creativity, professional vigor and alternative thought comes at the same times as a growing interest in training independent journalists. Some groups have organized technical courses, and other journalists are studying under a special program of Florida International University. On March 14, which is celebrated with great official fanfare as the Cuban Press Day, the Cuban Journalists Federation invited 60 independent journalists from all over the country to a workshop on journalistic ethics. The federation and the Márquez Sterling Society represent almost all the independent journalists on the island. However, this space of relative tolerance contrasts with the totalitarian rigidity and repression against other displays of free expression. The most notable cases of arrests and attacks are: -Bernardo Arévalo Padrón is still in Aziza jail in Cienfuegos province under deplorable conditions of forced labor. Arevalo, founder of the independent agency Línea Sur, has been serving a six-year term since November 28, 1997, on charges of contempt of President Fidel Castro and Vice President Carlos Lage. -Three other independent journalists have been detained since the beginning of last year awaiting trial. They are: Carlos Alberto Domínguez (Agencia Cuba Verdad) in Valle Grande prison in Havana; Carlos Brizuela Yera (Independent Journalists’ Colegio of Camagüey) in prison in Holguín; and Léster Téllez (Agencia de Prensa Libre Avileña) in Canaleta prison, Ciego de Avila. Brizuela Yera was violently beaten by a jail guard on January 31. Téllez received medical treatment at a hospital in Havana; he lost his vision in one eye and has serious problems in the other. -The police have harshly repressed independent journalists who try to cover activities of the internal opposition and prisoners of conscience. Reporters María del Carmen Carro and Carlos Ríos Otero, who sent reports about prisoner Leonardo Bruzón Avila abroad, were threatened physically and verbally. On February 28, Carro was stopped in Havana by State Security agents, who tried to terrorize her. On March 4, in a drug store in a Havana neighborhood a State Security agent kicked Ríos in front of the people in the store. -Journalist Maria Elena Alpízar, 60, a correspondent of Grupo Decoro in Placetas, Villaclara, was attacked by a policeman while she covered an opposition protest at the Nieves Morejón jail in Sancti Spíritus province. -Other independent journalists were victims of police methods used to block their access to information sources. The following journalists experienced temporary detentions, warnings, stops, threats and fines: Milagros Beatón José Ramón Castillo, Carlos Cerpa Maceira, Dorka Céspedes, Luis Cino Alvarez, Ana Leonor Díaz Chamizo, Juan Carlos Garcell, José Luis García Paneque, Marvin Hernández Monzón, Marilin Lahera, Isabel Rey, Juan Téllez Rodríguez and Adelina Soto. -On October 8, officials searched and seized all the work material of the French journalist Catherine David of the weekly Le Nouvel Observateur, at the Havana airport. David had entered the country on a tourist visa and took advantage of the visit to interview members of the dissident movement. Her audio cassettes were confiscated and the files on her laptop computer were copied. -On February 11, State Security detained Argentine journalist and academic Fernando Ruiz Parra, a professor at the University of Buenos Aires, near Matanzas. Ruiz Parra was doing research about the growth of independent journalism. The granting of visas to professionals is still used as a way to control information and the country’s international image. While some members of the independent press have recently been granted permission to emigrate, there are other cases of delays and denials of requests to travel abroad. The most delayed case is that of journalist and poet Raúl Rivero, who has not been allow to leave temporarily to accept professional and academic invitations for 15 years, although he has been offered the opportunity to leave permanently. Government control of information affects not only independent journalists, but also other professionals and clergy. It stops any effort to allow the people free access to different sources of ideas. At the beginning of the year, the government prevented the U.S. Interests Section in Havana from importing and distributing a shipment of books of literature, history and general knowledge that were to be given away. The State Department criticized the ban on March 6, saying that Washington has not put restrictions on similar material that Cuban diplomats in Washington and at the United Nations in New York, distribute on a regular basis without interference from U.S. authorities. In January, on the fifth anniversary of the visit of Pope John Paul II, the Catholic Church noted that the government still blocks access to the media and limits the spread of its religious message. A recent pastoral letter of Cardinal Jaime Ortega Alamino, archbishop of Havana, indicated that “political power should not block or impede the proclamation of Christ’s message, which the Church must spread using all communications media.” The totalitarian obsession with information has reached absurd levels. On February 25, police officers seized all the copies of an issue of L’amateur du cigare that was to be distributed during the Festival del Habano in the capital. The police action was requested by the Cuban company Habanos S.A. because the magazine had a drawing of the guerrilla Ernesto “Che” Guevara with Mickey Mouse ears. A new wave of repression is disguised in the official media as a campaign to end the scourge of drugs, corruption and other illegal activities. This police campaign, with operations in neighborhoods and towns across the country, includes the dismantling of clandestine video rental stores and the seizure of homemade antennas to received unauthorized television signals, which were alternative sources of information and entertainment for a large part of the population. The newspaper Granma, the organ of the Communist Party, has defended these actions in response to demonstrations of repudiation by citizens who have disobeyed and even physically confronted the police to protest these excesses. The demagogy of the government’s language is supported by the pro-government Cuban Journalists Union (UPEC). In January it sent a delegation to the World Social Forum in Brazil to criticize “the unequal distribution of information” and “the monopoly of the large multinational companies that control the flow of information and communications technology.” Last December, UPEC sponsored the IV Festival of the Written Press where about 700 official journalists discussed how to achieve “more professional journalistic coverage” in the so-called battle of ideas declared by Castro. This idea has been added to the daily flood of propaganda at the Round Table and the speeches of Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez on national radio and television. The celebration of Cuban Press Day on March 14 was the occasion to heap praise on “militant journalism committed to the revolution” of Castro and to call for continuing the international campaign, by all the media, for the freedom of the proclaimed Five Heroic Prisoners of the Empire, the five Cubans convicted of espionage in the United States. On February 5 the government named Francisco González, a former official at the U.N. mission, as director of the official news agency Prensa Latina. González was one of four diplomats expelled from the United States in November for espionage activities.