CUBA Information is still a crime in Cuba. Although in 1995, there was a slight liberalization in this area, this year has brought fierce repression against independent journalists and their struggling press agencies. And with new and disturbing methods of repression, such as pressuring independent journalists to go into exile, depriving them of a homeland and infiltrating agents and informers within the ranks of independent journalists. The government also announced that it will control access to the Internet. And it expelled representatives of Reporters Without Borders and the Committee for the Protection of Journalists who were on a visit to Cuba. Cuba is the last totalitarian regime in the Americas and the only country in the Americas in which information is subject to fierce state control. "We are in the hot seat," says Lazaro Lazo, president of the Bureau of Cuban Independent Press. "The state does not permit us to work within our profession nor outside of our profession. Because of our status as journalists, it is not legal to set up a business. And if we engage in unauthorized economic activities, then we are accused of operating outside the margin of the law. The state tries to force us to abandon our work in desperation or leave the country." Several independent journalists have been forced to leave the country in the past year. They include Rafael Solano, Yndamiro Restano and Roxanne Valdivia. The authorities openly invited them to leave. And on September 25, it was disclosed that the alleged independent journalist Carlos Fleites who now lives in Mexico-was actually an informant for State Security within the ranks of independent journalists. "Counterintelligence was always finding everything out," said Fleites in justification of his actions. The Cuban government has also subjected independent journalists to a campaign of systematized repression that includes, among other tactics, the following: The houses where independent journalists operate are searched and their equipment and files confiscated; independent journalists are arrested in the streets or in their homes and subjected to questioning that can last hours or even days without any apparent motive; their telephones are connected to electronic equipment that causes their phones to ring every two minutes all day and night; journalists are left off in remote areas where they have to walk dozens of miles to get home. They have also been beaten up on the streets and subject to "acts of repudiation." "These attacks against independent journalists are not direct nor life-threatening because we have great international support, and that keeps us alive, but we survive in a precarious form, practically unable to earn a living or to enjoy the most elementary peace," says Lazo. These attacks increased in the middle of the summer in apparent retaliation against independent press agencies that had received the IAPA Press Freedom Award. In this instance, the IAPA decried the arrest of Magali Pino, Bernando Fuentes and Jorge Rive, independent journalists who collaborated with the Patria news agency. The three were held incommunicado in the State Security jail in Camaguey for several days in August. The barbarity suffered by journalists from the independent agency Patria was perhaps the worst suffered by journalists in the past year. Hector and Olga Valdivia and their daughter Roxada Valdivia, now exiled in Miami, were expressly prohibited from having contact with the IAPA offices. Indeed, the majority of independent journalists in Camaguey have their telephones blocked by telephone company ETECSA, S.A., a subsidiary of the DOMaS group of Mexico. March 19.The Cuban government denied an exit visa to Raul Rivero, director of Cuba Press, who had been invited by the IAPA to its Midyear meeting in San Jose, Costa Rica. March 19. Joaquin Alvarez Torres, vice-president of the news agency Havana Press, was arrested at home by State Security agents. April 25. Journalist Olance Nogueras of BPIC was arrested in Cienfuegos by State Security agents, while he was trying to interview Danielle Mitterand, president of the humanitarian organization, France Liberte. Nogueras was accused of "antisocial conduct." May 2. Cuban authorities forbid BPIC from carrying out any of its activities. The previous week on April 26 - State security raided the BPIC offices and confiscated files, correspondence, magazines and equipment, including two typewriters, a computer and a printer. May 9. Journalist Rafael Solano, president of Havana Press, arrived in Madrid after being forced into exile. According to Solano, there are legal proceedings against some independent Cuban journalists, including Raul Rivero, director of the agency Cuba Press; Hector Peraza Linares; Joaquin Torres Alvarez and Lazaro Lazo. May 9. Ana Luisa Baeza was threatened by two State Security officials, who said that she was committing a the crime of working as an independent journalist, an activity that can result in an eight year jail sentence. May 24. Lazaro Lazo, interim president of BPIC and journalist for Havana Press was arrested by two State Security agents. He was set free an hour later. May 29. The home of Norma Brito Hernandez, BPIC spokeswoman and journalist, located in Havana's Vedado neighborhood, was surrounded by police agents. They did not manage to capture the journalist. May 29. Olance Nogueras of BPIC was arrested for several hours, together with his mother. Nogueras was covering a trial of the head of a Cienfuegos human rights group. (On Friday, June 15, Nogueras had been arrested on 14 occasions during six months.) May 31. Journalist Joaquin Torres Alvarez, president of Havana Press, was threatened by two State Security officials, who asked him to cease his activities as an independent journalist, Torres could face up to fourteen years of jail as "an accomplice in committing crimes, illicit association and distribution of false information and enemy propaganda." June 4. Roxana Valdivia, a correspondent for BPIC in Ciego de Avila, Cuba, arrived in Miami after being forced to leave the country. The Cuban authorities warned Valdivia that if she did not obtain a visa to leave, she could be jailed for continuing her work as an independent journalist. Her departure took place two weeks after journalist Rafael Solano of Havana Press was also forced to leave under similar circumstances. Hubert Jerez, a founding member of the Association of Independent Journalists of Cuba, was also forced to leave the country. So was Joaquin Torres Alvarez, Havana Press, who was threatened with jail if he stayed on in Cuba. June 9. Jose Rivero, vice-president of Cuba Press, was warned by State Security agents that he would have to leave the country if he kept on working as an independent journalist. They also threatened to cut off his telephone service if he continued to participate in the radio program "La Semana en una Hora."("The Week In An Hour"). The agents carried a folder with more than 30 articles by Rivero. June 20. Suzanne Bilello, coordinator of the program for the Americas of the Committee for the Protection of Journalists(CPJ), had her documents taken away and was forced to leave the country. During her visit to Cuba, Bilello interviewed members of the independent press to learn about the conditions in which they work and to examine opportunities for cooperation. The Cuban authorities accused Bilello of "fomenting rebellion" because of her support of independent journalists. June 25. Lazaro Lazo, assistant director of the BPIC, was summoned to a police station. The journalist was threatened because of his work with BPIC and interrogated about the independent press agencies Havana Press and Cuba press. Lazo was also questioned about Susan Bilello's visit to Cuba. June 26. Norma Brito, spokeswoman for the BPIC was summoned to the State Security headquarters in Villa Marista. July 4. The Interior Ministry intercepts and interrupts a telephone call to Miguel Fernandez Martinez, correspondent for BPIC in Havana. An hour later, a call by journalist Diosmel Rodriguez in Santiago de Cuba was also interrupted. After several attempts to communicate, Rodriguez's telephone line was disconnected. July 12. Rodrigo Alonso, a reporter for the television program "It Happened Like This" broadcast by the Telemundo network based in Miami, was kidnapped and robbed by unknown assailants during a trip to Cuba. Alonso was staying at Hotel Cohiba, where he was advised that someone was waiting for him outside. Two men cut him off and bundled him into a waiting vehicle which then drove through different Havana neighborhoods. He was questioned about the motives of his visit to Cuba. One of his attackers hit him on the head and injured one of his eyes with a sharp object. During the time he was held, others entered his hotel room and robbed his money, clothes and other personal belongings. Alonso does not know if the attack was made by common criminals or for political motives. July 12. Joaquin Torres Alvarez, director of Havana Press, was arrested at his home and taken to a police station in the Caballo Blanco neighborhood where his office is located. He was interrogated by a State security agent about his work with the independent news agency. He was set free July 14. July 12. French journalist Jacques Perot, director of the Americas office of Journalists without Borders, was held for two hours in the Havana airport and sent back to Paris. Cuban immigration officials justified the action by saying that Perot was considered "undesirable" because of his relations with independent journalists on the island. July 13. Journalist Orlando Bordón Galvez, Havana Press, was interrogated for four hours about his work as an independent while being held in a Havana police station in the neighborhood San Jose. July 15. Nestor Baguer, director of the Association of Independent Cuban Press(APIC) and Mercedes Moreno, a journalist with BPIC, were summoned to political police headquarters in Villa Maristas. The following day, Baguer had to go back to the headquarters where he was questioned again and pressured to sign" an act of warning" in which he was accused of spreading false information and enemy propaganda. Baguer was warned that if he continued to write articles considered enemy propaganda, his case would be sent to a criminal court. July 23. Journalist Oiance Nogueras was provoked in public by State Security agents, who followed him home. Nogueras was in hiding for a while because he feared arrest. July 30. Journalist Juan Antonio Sanchez was arrested by State Security and robbed of $700 sent by the organization Journalists Without Borders to support the independent press movement. Sanchez was set free six hours later after being pressured to sign a document admitting that the money had been sent by the government of the United States to start an internal revolution. August 2. Journalist, screenwriter and poet Cecilio Ismael Sambra Hubert began his fourth year in prison for "rebellion" in Santiago de Cuba. When he was imprisoned in 1993, Sambra was distributing pamphlets in which he criticized President Fidel Castro. August 12. Magali Pino, Bernardo Fuentes and Jorge Rives, collaborators with the independent agency Patria, were held by State Security in Camaguey Province. Alberto Cruz Lima, head of this news agency in Ciego de Avila, was also attacked and threatened with jail. The attacks were in apparent retaliation for an award given to the agency by the IAPA. (The three were freed August 16.) August 14. Jorge Olivera Castillo, a Havana Press journalist, was questioned for 30 minutes by two State Security officials, who pressured him to reveal the name of a source in the Cuban Radio and Television Institute who made disclosures broadcast by Olivera on Radio Marti. August 24. Independent journalist Glance Nogueras was harassed and questioned by State security agents about U.S. diplomat Robin Meyer, who was expelled from the country August 21. He was asked who she had met with during her visit to Cuba. September 6. CBS-Telenoticias broadcast around the hemisphere a debate between Ricardo Alarcón, president of the National Assembly, and Cuban exile leader Jorge Mas Canosa. The broadcast was jammed in Cuba itself. September 9. Joaquin Torres Alvarez, editor of the independent press agency HavanaPress and reporter Jorge Olivera Castillo were summoned to State security headquarters. The motive for the interogation was a report by Olivera broadcast by Radio Marti at the beginning of August in which he reported that machines in the Cuban Institute of Radio and Telvision had been sabotaged. Agents put pressure on the journalist to reveal his source within the state agency. September 23. Raul Rivero of the Cuba Press agency was visited in his house by a member of the Unified System of Vigilance and Protection, a Communist Party civil surveillance group, who ordered him to report to the police station. At the station, Rivero was warned by police officers that he should cancel a party planned at his house that night to celebrate the first anniversary of the Bureau of Independent Cuban Press(BPIC) or "the police are not responsible for the violence employed against him." On that occasion, Rivero informed the police that it was his wife's birthday and asked for permission to invite several family members. That permission was also denied. His house was under continuous police surveillance that night, and the guards repeated the threats several times. September 23. Olances Nogueras of BPIC asked to speak during the celebration of the Caracol Festival, in which all the Cuban broadcast personalities were being honored. He expressed his concern for the offiCialism that reigns in the Cuban media. He was subjected to an "act of repudiation" and was later warned that he was prohibited from traveling from his home in Cienfuegos to Havana. September 25. Luis Lopez Prendes of the BPIC was arrested 24 hours by the political police in the town of Gueines, where he was accused of cattle rustling and animal sacrifice. Lopez had reported on forced evictions of town residents for several foreign radio stations. He was fined fifty pesos for disobedience and left on a lonely highway some ten miles from Havana. He was prohibited from returning to Gueines. September 25. Independent journalist Carlos Fleites, who was dispatching information overseas for years, disclosed that he had been working as an undercover agent for Cuban counterintelligence. Fleites, who collaborated with the Association of Independent Journalists (APIC), said that he decided to disclose his status as an informer because he felt that he was involved in an act of self-deception. He added,"1 want everyone to know that I was connected to the security services because if I happen to get in an automobile accident in Mexico, people will know who to blame." September 25-29. The telephones of Rafael Solano's mother and the independent journalist Norma Brito began receiving telephone calls every two minutes. These calls, obviously programmed by electronic equipment, had 21 rings. No one was ever on the phone. The phones kept ringing for 24 hours every two minutes. Both women were warned that if they took their phones off the hook, they would be arrested. The calls to Norma Brito started up again October 1 and have continued up until the present time. October 3. Norma Brito said she is leaving Cuba. October 5. The government announced it control access to the Internet through its National Date Exchange Center (CENIAI). October 5. Nestor Baguer underwent surgery for an hip fracture sustained last year when he was knocked down by two unidentified assailants.