CUBA Since the October General Assembly, the government has stepped up efforts to close the openings to freedom that independent journalists have defended against all odds. Harassment, intimidation and jail are some of the weapons most frequently used by the authorities to suppress the right of dissident journalists to inform and express themselves. Within this framework, the Cuban regime has put into effect what appears to be a new mode of controlling the press: a sort of de facto house arrest that has been applied to more than 10 reporters just as they were about to cover events potentially uncomfortable for the government. The foreign press has also been targeted for restrictions. In mid-December the government denied entry visas to a group from the National Conference of Editorial Writers, of the United States. The initial ban was aimed at The Miami Herald, but was expanded later to the entire group when it criticized the Cuban decision. These developments have dampened the expectations that arose following a series of initiatives taken by the IAPA and other world press organizations to improve conditions for the independent press. The most important of these succeeded in getting several Latin American presidents to intercede on behalf of the Cuban press during the Ibero-American Presidents Summit, held in Havana in November. The government leaders, particularly José María Aznar of Spain and Ernesto Zedillo of Mexico, took a personal interest in the fate of the independent journalists. They expressed concern for them publicly and with Fidel Castro himself in private. World attention focused briefly on the dissidents and the alternative press, which gained for the journalists some breathing space. International pressure continued during December after the London meeting of leading press groups, gathered under the umbrella of the Coordinating Committee of Press Freedom Organizations. That meeting approved a strong rebuke of the Cuban government and disseminated it worldwide. Its purpose was to bolster the progress achieved at the presidents’ summit. Unfortunately, this period of relative calm lasted only briefly. The opening months of the new year have brought more repression for Cuban journalists. The IAPA regional vice chairman for Cuba, Raúl Rivero, has described this period as “one of the most critical and somber for the independent press movement.” The regime has attacked the Cuban journalists in different ways, abusing them physically, arresting them and confiscating their equipment—all with the purpose of preventing them from doing their work freely. Additionally, two journalists continue imprisoned for criminal contempt directed at Fidel Castro. They are Bernardo Arévalo Padrón (six years) and Jesús Joel Díaz Hernández (four years). A third journalist, Manuel Gonzaléz Castellanos Leonardo de Varona, was released at the end of January after serving a 16-month sentence. Following is a summary of events: November 1— President Castro verbally abused 17 independent journalists, accusing them of being “counterrevolutionary chieftains and conspirators.” They are: Mercedes Moreno and Omar Rodríguez Saludes of Nueva Prensa; José Antonio Sánchez, Tania Quintero and Ricardo González of Cuba Press; Manuel David Orrio and Jesús Zúñiga of the Cooperative of Independent Journalists; Néstor Baguer and Lucas Garvo of APIC; Santiago Santana of Oriente Press; María de los Angeles González Amaro of UPECI; Jorge Olivera, María del Carmen Carro and Lázaro Rodríguez Torres of Havana Press; Edel José García of CNP; Ramón Alberto Cruz Lima of Patria, and Raúl Rivero, IAPA regional vice chairman for Cuba. November 8–Ramón Humberto Colás, a Cuba Press contributor, was arrested and confined at an undisclosed location. On the same date, journalist Santiago Santana was prevented from traveling from Santiago to Havana. The plane ticket he already had was cancelled. Another journalist, Guillermo Alvarez of Camagüey, was warned not to leave the province until after the summit meeting on November 15 and 16. November 10–Journalists Osvaldo Céspedes, Aurora García del Busto, Odalys Víctores, Jorge Miguel Feliu and Angel Pablo Polanco were put under house arrest. When Polanco tried to leave his house, he was taken to the police station. December 4–Saint Barbara day, more than 10 journalists were kept from leaving their homes to prevent them from covering the celebrations. December 10–On this 51st anniversary of the Declaration of Human Rights, several journalists were placed under house arrest. Two of them–María Miranda and Miguel Vargas–were taken to a police station, where they were mistreated. December 17–Photographer Alberto Arveo was detained while covering a Catholic procession near Havana. The police confiscated a still camera and camcorder. December 23–Photographer Omar Rodríguez was detained by state security agents, who confiscated a camera and tape recorder. January 8–Journalist Bernardo Arévalo Padrón, who is serving a six-year sentence for insulting Fidel Castro, was transferred to a jail for common criminals in Abreu, a municipality in Cienfuegos province, where he is doing forced labor without adequate tools. January 14–Víctor Rolando Arroyo was tried and sent to the Kilometer 5½ Prison, where he is serving a sentence for hoarding. January 21–Journalist Mary Miranda of Cuba Press was assaulted by an unidentified assailant in broad daylight. The beating, which left her unconscious for one half hour, resulted in injuries to her face. On another occasion, she was slapped by police agents when she refused to be handcuffed. January 21–Journalist José Orlando González Bridon of Cuba Prensa Libre was detained and questioned by security agents because of, according to the police, “his reports” about the Elián González child. January 24–The provincial court of Pinar del Río upheld the six-year prison sentence imposed on reporter Víctor Rolando Arroyo Carmona for having distributed toys to the city’s poor children. When the sentence was confirmed, Arroyo Carmona was beaten in public by Interior Ministry agents. January 31–Journalists Margarita and Adalberto Yero, of Cuba Press and Cuba Prensa Libre, respectively, were threatened with a beating. The threat was delivered by members of the Committee for Defense of the Revolution. February 22–Journalist Omar Rodríguez Saludes of Nueva Prensa agency was detained. February 23–Two state security agents detained Angel Pablo Polanco, editor of Noticuba agency, as he prepared to cover the trial of activist Oscar Elías Biscet, president of the Lawton Human Rights Foundation. February 24–Eight journalists went to jail and five others were detained at home to keep the alternative press from covering the celebration of what in Cuba is regarded as a patriotic date. Two other journalists were questioned on the street. February 25–Journalist Virginia Salva Segura of Cuba Press was detained at the request of a father whose daughter’s death the reporter had covered for the agency. At the end of February the homes of two correspondents, Jesús Labrador Areas in the eastern region of Manzanillo and Olegario Delgado in Cienfuegos, were stoned by government followers. The attacks took place at night.