CUBA Despite the currents of democracy and free markets that have reached all the other countries of the Americas, and the fact that the Cuban government has been obliged to make some changes in the economy, news gathering is still a gloomy prospect in Cuba. In fact, in recent days, Cuban authorities have detained several dissident journalists and told them to obtain jobs in other media, threatening them with arrest for being" a public danger" or guilty of "vagrancy" if they continued to operate independently. These events indicate that the government is maintaining its control over the media amid a major crisis in the economy and also of political identity in large part due to the iron-fisted control of information and the absolute manipulation of that information by those with political power, such as the interior minister and the Communist Party's Department of Revolutionary Orientation. Not a single letter in the Cuban Constitution has been changed, and thus the media continue to be officially state-owned. Thus the authorities view journalists as state employees obliged to gather up press releases in the various ministries and spew them forth in the media. The only journalists union officially recognized by the government is the Union of Cuban Journalists and Writers, an arm of the Communist Party. At least four independent press groups have been created. They operate precariously and under the most primitive conditions, without modern communications and with virtually no equipment. They face continued threats,danger and systamatic harrassment. Nevertheless, their establishment is creating conditions conducive to building an eventual free press. The four groups are the Bureau of Independent Press in Cuba, which nurtures and coordinates news coverage offered to the other three - Havanapress, Cuba press and the Havana Journalists Circle. The Bureau has representatives in France and the United States who disseminate their reports. This embryonic network of independent journalists within Cuba has correspondents in several parts of the island. Cuban journalist Yndamiro Restano, who spent 3-1/2 years in prison on charges of "dissemination of enemy propaganda," was freed in June at the request of French First Lady Danielle Mitterand. In the past few weeks, before leaving on a trip, Restano was detained for six hours by the Cuban secret service and given a death threat. He was told,"We can kill you, Yndamiro. This could cost you your life." The agents were referring to an independent press project that Restano has established in Havana. Chronology: June I-The government sets free Yndamiro Restano. Formerly a journalist for Bohemia and Juventud Rebelde, Restano was freed "unconditionally." July 3-Journalist Orestes Fondevila was taken to Villa Marista, State Security headquarters, where he was held for seven hours. Fondevilla had been the first journalist to report on a protest in Havana led by former Interior Ministry coronel Nildo Labrada, demanding that Fidel Castro step down. July 4-State Security agents arrest Lazaro Lazo, member of the Independent Press Association of Cuba (APIC) and take him to an isolated house where they interrogate and threaten him, in apparent retaliation for having reported on the events surrounding the July 1 sinking of a tugboat "13 de Julio," in which 41 persons perished. July 6-State Security officers detain APIC members Orestes Fondevilla, Luis L6pez Prendes and Lazaro Laro for several hours. The three journalists are accused of reporting on the open display of dissatisfaction against the government by a retired military officer. July 8-Luis L6pez Prendes, another APIC member, was detained and interrogated in a police station located at the intersection of Zulueta and Dragones streets. He was accused of fomenting protests during the anniversary of the tugboat sinking by reporting plans for such protests overseas. July II-State Security cuts off the telephone line, confiscates a fax machine and conducts an illegal search of the home of journalist Nelson Baguer, completely disabling APIC operations, which Mr. Baguer runs from his home. On July 19, Mr. Baguer files a complaint with the local municipal tribune in the neighborhood of Plaza, asking for the return of the fax machine. The tribunal's secretary refuses to hear the complaint, saying the demand has no legal bearing. July 12-Rafael Solano is detained and interrogated for several hours by state security officers. An officer identified by Solano as Captain Aldo Balbuzano warns him that state security is keeping an eye on him and his activities. Solano is threatened with 10 years in jail if he continues to transmit news stories to "subversive" radio stations and" counterrevolutionary" newspapers. July 13-State security raids the home of Jose Rivero Garcia, director of the Circle of Journalists of Havana, and confiscates a video camera, a fax and a typewriter, completely disabling the operation of the agency, which sends reports to U.S. news outlets. July 13-For the second time in a week, Rafael Solano, director of Havana Press, is temporarily detained by state security. Havana Press was founded on May 1, 1995, by journalists fired from their state media jobs over the last two years. The agency sends stories to radio stations and newspapers in the United States and Europe. An award-winning reporter, Solano worked for Radio Rebelde and Radio Taino, the latter a station targeted at tourists. He was fired from his job last year, for political disagreements. State security warns Solano he could be tried for "disseminating enemy propaganda" if he continues to file for Radio Mart(, The Miami Herald and the Miami-based Diario de las Americas. July 14-State security visits Jose Rivero Garcia, director of the Circle of Journalists of Havana, and warns him he will face prosecution if he continues his press work. July 16-Journalist and poet Raul Rivero's briefcase is stolen as he walks in an area near State Security headquarters. The stolen briefcase had the most recent batch of typewritten articles Havana Press was preparing for foreign news outlets. Sept. 15-Independent journalists Rafael Solano and Yndamiro Restano are interrogated individually by state security. Telephone lines are interrupted. Relatives of the journalists are told the journalists will be detained and that the state is not responsible for any future violent action against them because of the illegal activities they are engaged in. Sept 19-The Bureau of Independent Press in Cuba (BPIC) initiates activities. The BPIC is run by journalist Yndamiro Restano, who was released from prison in June. Members include the veteran journalist Nelson Balguer and Roxana Valdivia among others. Cuba Press also initiates operations shortly thereafter. Oct. 3-Hector Peraza Linares, a Havana Press reporter in Quivican, Havana Province, is detained by local authorities and warned against working as an independent journalist. He is a former reporter for the newspaper Trabajadores. Oct. 3-Roxana Valdivia, member of the Bureau of Independent Journalists of Cuba, is detained by state security, held for 28 hours with her husband at the Malecón prison in Havana and forcefully placed aboard a train that takes her to her home in Ciego de Avila, in the province of Camaguey. Valdivia is warned that if she returns to Havana and remains in contact with Yndamiro Restrepo, she will be jailed again. Oct 4-Maria de los Angeles Gutierrez, accountant for the Bureau of Independent Journalists of Cuba, BPIC, is detained for four hours by state security who warned her to quit her job and offered to find her another job. Oct. 7-Olance Noguera, a journalist with the BPIC, was picked up by the state police at Cienfuegos Province who gave him 30 days to find a job with a state entity or face four years in jail for "dangerousness." Noguera was told a story he wrote for Havana Press on the Juragua nuclear power plant in Cienfuegos angered local authorities. Oct. 10-Hector Peraza Linares is summoned by police in the town of Quivican 20 miles south of Havana. Lt. Omar Morej6n of the local state police forces Peraza to sign a warning notice that gives him 10 days to find a job or be tried for "vagrancy" under the "dangerousness" provision. He is told to leave independent journalism. Peraza, 45, is a former reporter with the official newspaper Trabajadores. Oct. 12-Maria de los Angeles Gutierrez Gonzalez CHECK, an administrator with BPIC, was summoned by the Havana state police to warn her again about her job with BPIe. She was first detained October 4 for four hours by state security who warned her to quit her job and offered to find her a job with a state entity.