CUBA There is no press freedom in the country. Repression and persecution of a small and weak group of independent journalists operating inside Cuba against all odds continues in an almost bestial form. The offensive against any source of information has extended in recent weeks to include the Catholic Church, which has been subject to severe restrictions in the acquisition of computers, photocopiers, and fax machines. These restrictions, imposed through Resolution 144-97 of the Ministry of Foreign Commerce, create serious problems in carrying out the visit of Pope John Paul II in January. There have also been unmistakable signs in recent days about how Cuban authorities will handle the foreign press during the Pope's visit, a fact disturbing to journalists who have been concerned for months about obtaining the necessary permission to cover the Pope's trip. The horrible actions by authorities and plainclothes shock troops against independent journalists and their families increased in recent weeks in anticipation of the 5th Congress of the Cuban Communist Party, which was held last week. The last offensive against independent journalists was launched in July, just as the World Youth festival began. According to independent journalists, the Cuban government feared that the dissidents would make contact with foreign youth and that independent journalists would paint a different picture of Cuba's reality from that presented by the government. The so-called acts of repudiation, house arrests, raids and confiscation of letters, documents, and even basic writing instruments became an almost daily routine. Since last April, 24 independent journalists have been arrested. Another nine have been jailed; seven have been subjected to acts of repudiation by police-incited mobs, and three have been deported. In the last few days, these attacks by the authorities have been carried out practically every day. Last week, there were attacks both Wednesday, October 15, as well as Thursday, October 16, against independent journalists in their respective dwellings. In the first incident, Marla de los Angeles GonzaIez Amaro, a journalist for HavanaPress and president of the Union of Independent Cuban Journalists and Writers, was subjected to a so-called act of repudiation while she was on the phone with the United States to relate different cases of violations against independent journalists. In the second case, Interior Ministry agents broke into the home of Ricardo GonzaIez Alfonso, independent journalist for the CubaPress Agency, while he was meeting with three other independent journalists. Gonzalez Alfonso was arrested. An agent for the Cuban secret police told HavanaPress president Raul Rivero, who had attended the meeting. "We arrested him for nothing ... and don't rush to give out the news because this is going to go on for a while." The news was dispatched by Ana Luisa López Baeza, also from HavanaPress. Her daughter, 22-year-old Lubia Bonito L6pez, was called into the police station and accused on suspicion of robbing a foreigner. The authorities told her that a witness had identified a woman that matched her description. They opened criminal proceedings that are still pending. "My daughter denied everything," says López Baeza. "She knows that it was an attack on her mother." "My resignation from the Tribuna de La Habana has meant that my daughter has no possibility of obtaining work." Lubia is frequently called in by the police, who tell her that she must convince her mother to leave the country or independent journalism. In another matter, the National Press Club in Washington was notified in late September by Cuban authorities that its long-planned November trip to Cuba would be "inconvenient" because of logistical preparations in Cuba for the Pope's January visit and the Cuban congress convention in October. The trip had been planned for 29 U.S. working journalists. Cuban officials pledged to permit this important trip later next year. Chronology of events: May 11: Cecilio Ismael Sambra Haber, poet, journalist and screenwriter was released from jail and traveled to Canada. June: Journalists Lazaro Lazo and Olance Nogueras, both from the Bureau of Independent Press of Cuba (BPIC) forced to emigrate to the United States, threatened with prison if they did not do so. June 23: Hector Peraza Linares, correspondent for HavanaPress in Pinar del Rio, was arrested by state security in this province. He was released in September. June: Reinaldo Soto of CubaPress is serving a five-year jail sentence in a maximum security prison in Ciego de Avila. He was found guilty of distributing "enemy propaganda." July 12: Lorenzo Paez Nunez, BPIC, was sentenced to 18 months in prison for defamation of the National Police. July: Juan Antonio Sanchez, of CubaPress, was arrested in Pinar del Rio. July 18: Luis L6pez Prendes, BPIC, was interrogated in Villa Marista after informing media in other countries about bomb explosions in Havana hotels. July 22: Ram6n Alberto Cruz Lima, Patria Agency, was arrested. Moreover, his typewriter, paper, and other work materials were confiscated. July: Mirta Leyva, APIC, was arrested in Manzanillo in mid-July. She was entreated to abandon her "counterrevolutionary work" or face trial and have her children taken away. The same week, her husband was arrested and sentenced to a year in jail. July 11: Armando Rosabal, Oriente Press, and the doctor Desi Mendoza, were arrested after giving out the first information to the outside world about a dengue epidemic in Santiago de Cuba. July 6: Ana Luisa Baeza, CubaPress, had her apartment searched and her typewriter, taperecorder, books, and journalistic works confiscated. Days later, her 22-year-old daughter Lubia was arrested and told that she would be accused of being a prostitute if her mother did not abandon independent journalism. July 26: Ricardo Martinez and Juan Antonio Sanchez, both of CubaPress, were arrested and threatened with prison if they continued to work with Radio Marti. Mónica López, APIC, Jorge Olivera, HavanaPress, Placido Hernandez, Angeles Gonzalez Amaro, German Castro, Miguel Fernandez, Julio Martinez and Tania Quintero, all of CubaPress, were all threatened, arrested, or "visited" by the political police. The houses of journalists Raul Rivero, Ana Luisa López, Tania Quintero, Joaquin Torres, Jorge Olivera, Mercedes Moreno and Lazaro Lazo were attacked by groups affiliated with the government. August 12: Raul Rivero, of CubaPress, was arrested by State Security agents in San Luis, near Pinar del Rio. He was still being held prisoner on September 3. August 16: Marvin Hernandez Monzón, CubaPress, was arrested by State Security agents in Cienfuegos. Mter being interrogated, he was released the same day. July 28 and August 13: Journalists William Cortes and Efren Martinez, of CubaPress, were arrested by State Security agents in Pinar del Rio. August 17: Bernardo Arevalo Padrón, director of the news agency Linea Azul in Aguada de Pasajeros in the province of Cienfuegos, was brought to trial and could face three years in prison for "circulation of propaganda against Cuba." August 18: Ramon Alberto Cruz Lima, Patria Agency, was arrested in his house in Ciego de Avila by State Security agents. September 5: Bernardo Arevalo Padrón, director ofthe news agency Linea Azul in Aguada de Pasajeros in the province of Cienfuegos, was held for five hours. That same day, Ricardo Gonzalez Alfonso, a journalist for CubaPress, was summoned to police barracks in Havana. September 8: Omar Rodriguez Saludes of the New Press Agency (ANP) was arrested by State Security agents. They confiscated documents and a camera. That same day, Odaly Curbelo Sanchez, correspondent for CubaPress in Pinar del Rio, was called to the State Security headquarters. October 15: Acts of repudiation were carried out against Maria de los Angeles Gonzalez Amaro. October 16: Ricardo Gonzalez Alfonso, independent journalist for the CubaPress Agency, was arrested. Maria de los Angeles Gonzalez Amaro, Union of Independent Cuban Journalists and Writers, adds the following information: Omar Rodriguez Saludes, Nueva Prensa, was arrested and his property confiscated. Hector Peraza Linares, journalist for the HavanaPress Agency, was arrested by State Security in Pinar del Rio July 23, 1997. He was set free after 90 days in jail. Joaquin Torres Alvarez, director of HavanaPress, was a victim of acts of repudiation, and brutally beaten by the so-called rapid response brigades and paramilitary elements. Julio Rivera, a journalist for the HavanaPress Agency, was arrested several times ;he and his family have been frequently harrassed and subject to acts of repudiation. Nicolas Rosario Rosabal, a journalist for HavanaPress, was arrested for several days and questioned by the regime's Political Police. Maria de los Angeles Gonzalez Amaro was arrested for several days in the dungeons of the tenth police unit, her family threatened and coerced. Her son was expelled from his workplace July 5 because of his mother's counterrevolutionary activities, according to State Security. The people who loan her telephones to transmit news are constantly threatened. Celia Jorge Ruiz, a journalist for Prensa Habana, had her documents seized as she approached the entrance of the Office of Interests of the United States; her telephone is frequently cut off, and she has received anonymous threats. Luis Lopez Prendes, of the Bureau of Independent Press of Cuba, was arrested on several occasions.