CUBA Cuban journalists, writers and the public at large are showing increasing concern at the lack of freedom of expression under the Cuban government in recent months. Journalists, filmmakers, intellectuals and others have issued statements, made movies or broadcast overseas to air their views, in a growing tendency for journalists, including those involved in the official news organizations, and other writers to express their opinions openly. This has not been accomplished without cost - in some cases high cost - to those who have dared to challenge the Cuban state's absolute repression of any information or opinion which does not correspond to the official position. The government has in fact stepped up its repression of anyone seeking to publish free opinion - the number of writers and journalists now in Cuban prisons is believed to be as high as 80. Since 1961 there have been no independent media in Cuba. The press continues in the hands of the government, which does not permit any deviation from the official line. It has become evident that there are large numbers of official journaiists who operate within the regime but who want to liberalize the strict guidelines set by the Communist Party of Cuba. In October 1993, in meetings of the Cuban Writers and Journalists Union (UPEC) and the Cuban Writers and Artists Union (UNEAC), a bid to denounce a document issued by the Cuban bishops criticizing the regime and seeking a national dialogue failed when proponents were unable to muster a majority of votes. This came after the two organizations decided to allow members to express their own opinion. The significance of this is that it shows there are dissident members among the militants of both organizations, and that the regime cannot count on the support of the majority of the members - indicating a split within the official propaganda machinery. Dissident journalists within Cuba meanwhile are pursuing their attempt to liberalize the dissemination of information. Members of the Association of Independent Cuban Journaiists (APIC) continue to work precariously. APIC President Nestor Baguer recently created the Agencia Periodistica de Informaci6n de Cuba, which has transmitted news several times by telephone to Canada for relay to various media. It is a risky business for Baguer, who has been attacked several times. Other members of the organization also have been beaten and threatened. The repression by the regime seems to be carried out in stages. At times last year, the harassment, aggression and arrest of dissident local journalists, foreign correspondents and Cuban citizens who write proclamations or sign protest documents was ferocious. But at other times, there was a relaxation of beatings and acts of repudiation. For example, the poet Maria Elena Cruz Varela, who was imprisoned on a charge of spreading enemy propaganda, was freed before she completed her sentence. However, the well-known writer Norberto Fuentes was arrested when he tried to leave Cuba in October and Miami Herald, Florida, correspondent Mary Speck was expelled from the country and her notes were confiscated in October for having only a tourist visa; she had been denied a journalist visa. The past year has been characterized by the almost daily use by authorities of a Law of Jeopardy, which prophibits the dissemination of "enemy propaganda." It is used in hundreds of cases as a simple way to justify an arrest. The "propaganda" can be merely a phrase spoken in the street, a letter, or even a telephone conversation. Legal sanctions have been used to dismiss press professionals, academics and other intellectuals from their jobs and thus deprive them of their right to work. The APIC estimates that more than 500 persons have been penalized in this way and currently are unable to find work, because the government is Cuba's sole employer. On October 5, 1992, Tom Harvey, foreign correspondent for the Sun-Sentinel, Fort Lauderdale, Florida, was detained in the lobby of the Hotel Habana Libre and expelled from the country. Harvey, after waiting for more than a year for a journalist visa, had arrived with a tourist visa. He was accused of being in the country illegally when he was found to have notes of interviews he had held. He was threatened with a long jail term if he did not cooperate before leaving the country. He was held for six hours, then freed after the authorities confiscated his notes, tape recordings and film. On October 10, 1992, Lisette Bustamente, a journalist with the state television, requested political asylum in Madrid. She had been fired from her job in July 1990 for kneeling in front of the tomb of Gen. Arnaldo Ochoa, who was executed after a political trial in 1989. On October 20, 1992, Orelio Borrego and his four-year-old son were arrested in the clty of Ciego de Avila and charged with the possession of enemy propaganda. The evidence, according to relatives in the United States, consisted of remnants of printer's ink, which they said was found under his fingernails. On December 4, 1992, Eduardo Licea, a Jehovah's Witness, was arrested in his home in Mella for possession of illegal literature - a Bible and other religious books. On December 10, 1992, Jesus Garda Canoura, an independent journalist and Cuban correspondent for El Tiempo, Bogota, Colombia, was brutally beaten in front of his home by plain-clothes government agents who accused him of being a U.S. agent. Garda Canoura, who had visited the IAPA headquarters in Miami, Florida, on several occasions, was hospitalized for a week. On December 22, 1992, filmmaker Marcos Antonio Abad Flamand was sentenced to two years' imprisonment on charges of disrespect and disseminating enemy propaganda. The sentence will run from the date he was arrested, in November 1991, while filming an "act of repudiation" against Maria Elena Cruz Varela. Shortly before, he had signed a declaration by Cuban intellectuals. His film, "Un Dia Cualquiera" Gust Any Day), made in collaboration with Jorge Crespo Diaz, was confiscated. On December 22, 1992 Jorge Crespo Dlaz, writer, lawyer and filmmaker, was sentenced to two years' imprisonment on the same charges as Abad Flamand for his part in making the film. He also had signed the declaration by Cuban intellectuals. (Abad Flamand and Crespo were freed in June and July, respectively, following intense international pressure on their behalf.) In December 1992, Ciepo Borrego, director of the television program "Joven" (Youth), was arrested for throwing anti-government pamphlets from the window of the TV station. On December 31,1992, Conrado Tabares was arrested for painting "enemy propaganda" on walls around the city. On January 1, 1993, Luis Alberto Pita, who was in prison Charged with printing "enemy prop agenda," was badly beaten after he refused to wear prison garb in the Boniatos Prison. On January 14, 1993, for the first time in many years, the Cuban Foreign Ministry held a press conference for foreign correspondents, with 30 attending. The briefing was limited to questions dealing with bilateral relations between Cuba and Latin America and the Caribbean. Other questions were ruled out of order. The ministry said press briefings will now be held monthly. On January 17, 1993, Rodolfo Gonzalez Gonzalez, spokesman for the Human Rights Committee, was arrested and accused of distributing enemy propaganda after several meetings with foreign correspondents at a Havana hotel. On January 28, 1993, Octavio Vladimir Garcia, a journalist who is a member of the APIC, was detained at the airport when he tried to leave the country. He was threatened with death if he made public statements on arrival in the United States. On February 4, 1993, Jesus Diaz Garcia, a member of an organization called Por Libertad, Igualdad y Fraternidad (For Freedom, Equality and Fraternity), was arrested at his home and charged with distributing "enemy propaganda." On February 8, 1993, Nestor Baguer, APIC president, was brutally beaten by two persons. Some days earlier he had been attacked by a man riding a bicycle, who hit him with a karate chop. He has also been under house arrest by the so-called Rapid Response Brigades. On March 17, 1993, Jorge Proenza, a reporter with the newspaper Trabajadores, who went into exile in December, told the IAPA's Midyear Meeting that there are hundreds of journalists like him in Cuba who feel muzzled and blocked from carrying out their work. On April 4, 1993, Mauricio Saenz, foreign editor of the Colombian magazine Semana, was detained for one day and charged with being involved in drug trafficking. Cuban authorities promptly released him and apologized for the incident. On May 5, 1993, at the close of the 42nd Annual Meeting of the International Press Institute in Venice, Italy, the Cuban government was petitioned to free imprisoned journalists and writers in the country and to allow the APIC to operate freely as a press organization. In May 1993, authorities freed Maria Elena Cruz Varela, the dissident poet who was placed under house arrest in 1992 by a mob who dragged her by her hair and forced her to eat the text of a letter she had written calling for democracy. She was quoted by the Spanish newspaper El Pais as saying: "I prefer to dle as a poet than to live as a politician." The newspaper also quoted her as denying she had been tortured physically or psychologically or that she had been freed in exchange for her silence. On June 4,1993, APIC members founded the Agencia de Prensa Independiente de Cuba and began transmitting news by telephone to Canada twice weekly. The reports are relayed to various media abroad, according to APIC president Nestor Baguer. On June 10, 1993, Armando de Jesus Medel Martin, correspondent in Georgetown, Guyana, of the Cuban news agency Prensa Latina, was sentenced to 20 years in prison on a charge of espionage. He had been arrested in Havana early in January. On June 30,1993, the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Foreign Relations approved an appropriation of $28 million for Radio Marti and TV Marti to be included in the U.S. State Department budget. Radio Marti continues to be received in Cuba, but the TV broadcasts have been suspended. The appropriation for both stations was approved by the full U.S. Senate in October. On July 3, 1993, Elizardo Sanchez Santa Cruz, a Cuban dissident and president of the Cuban Human Rights and National Reconciliation Commission, visited the IAPA offices in Miami. He thanked the Association in his own name and on behalf of his companions for having received in 1990 the IAPA Pedro Joaquin Chamorro Freedom of the Press Award while he was in prison. On July 27, 1993, Santiago Cardenas, a doctor and journalist living in exile in Miami, told the IAPA of censorship he said had been imposed on him in Cuba after he published the paper El Pueblo de Dios. On numerous occasions he was detained and imprisoned, together with Osvaldo Paya and Rolando Sabin Fernandez, with whom he had organized the human rights movement, Movimiento Cristiano de Liberación. On August 3, 1993, Nestor Baguer, APIC president, was harassed by the State Security forces because he had reported on the success of COjimar. At the same time, there were serious altercations between residents and authorities when soldiers fired into a crowd of people who were trying to escape the country by boat. Baguer was harassed by plain-clothes agents, according to Elizardo San Pedro Marin, of the Agrupacion Democrata Cuba Libre. On September 13, 1993, Eliseo Garda, operations director of Prensa Latina, sought asylum in Miami, to where he had been assigned in March for six months. He was known as one of the most knowledgeable and experienced officials in the operations area of Prensa Latina. On October 6, 1993, Rodolfo Caballero Vila, a journalist from the University Extension Department of Camaglley University and director of the literary magazine Resonancias, sent a letter to the IAPA asking for help in traveling to Miami. He was detained in Cuba and charged with possessing enemy propaganda. On April 24, he traveled via Peru, after being expelled from Cuba. On October 7, 1993, the Permanent Committee of the Conference of Cuban Catholic Bishops said charges by the government press against a bishops' document were libelous. In October 1993, UPEC members met to debate the bishops' document. A majority vote could not be obtained, and it was decided that each journalist would act in accordance with his or her own conscience. A UNEAC meeting had the same result. On October 9, 1993, Mary Speck, a Miami Herald correspondent, was expelled from Cuba after having her notes confiscated. She was accused of being in the country illegally, having obtained a tourist visa, not a journalist visa. The Herald explained that its journalists have not received official visas for more than one year. On October 13, 1993, Maria Caridad Padron Martinez, general administrator of the stations Radio Rebelde and Radio Taino, told Radio Mambí, in Miami, that she was preparing to ask for political asylum. She said many journalists are waiting for an opporunity to leave the country because of the lack of freedom of expression there. On October 17,1993, Norberto Fuentes, a well-known Cuban writer and author of various books, including "Condenandos del Condado," "Cazabandidos" and "Hemingway in Cuba," was arrested when he tried to leave the country by boat. The dissident leader Elizardo Sanchez reported from Havana that Fuentes was imprisoned in a State Security detention center known as Villa Marista. Fuentes fell into official disgrace after his name was linked with Antonio de la Guardia, who was shot in 1989 along with Gen. Ochoa, executed ostenSibly for drug trafficking, although political motives are believed to be the real reason. On October 19, 1993, Manuel Portuando sought political asylum from the Honduran government. The journalist had been accompanying his country's delegation at the Seventh University Games of Central America and the Caribbean. On October 19, 1993, for the first time in years, a Cuban official replied to IAPA protests. The head of the. Cuban Interest Section in Washington, Alfonso Fraga, expressed his displeasure at the IAPA reaction to the expulsion of Mary Speck, Miami Herald correspondent. Fraga said the IAPA has never concerned itself with the obstacles that "the North American government has systematicaly placed for Cuban journalists who want to visit the U.S. to do their job."