The absolute repression of individual freedoms of the press and of expression continued in this period. The government is using news media as vehicles of propaganda; censorship and misinformation are ongoing. Unlike in other periods, today the jails are not packed with journalists. However, there has been an increase in acts of vigilance, control and repression; detentions, for just a few days or hours, and beatings, through the use of mobs or direct intervention of the police, have become the usual phenomenon equally affecting independent journalists and members of the opposition. In recent months significant news was that the Cuban government is acting as guarantor of the peace talks between the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the Colombian government. The death of opposition member Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas on July 22, still not fully clarified, and the national and international repercussions mark a moment of clear increase in punitive actions. In this regard, Amnesty International condemned the detention of at least 40 opposition members during the wake for the dissident, which was linked to “hardened repression” on the island. Some 500 people attended the ceremony, held in Havana’s El Salvador del Mundo church. As they left, between 40 and 50 people were arrested violently by the police who were waiting at the door of the church. Since then, criticism of the dissidence has worsened in the official press, which is going along with a repressive wave against the independent press and human rights defenders. The Cuban Human Rights and National Reconciliation Commission reported 400 detentions a month between April and July, more than 500 in August and 533 in September, the highest figure in the last six months. In general, this is a kind of repression of “low intensity,” lasting just hours or days, that includes “the subsequent abandonment of detainees in remote or isolated areas” … “out-of-court confinement to homes under the custody of police officers and vigilantes and the clear threat that the detainees in their homes would be jailed if they tried to leave home,” according to the Commission. News photographer Gerardo Younel Ávila denounced, in a video shown internationally, two detentions carried out in May and June, and journalists Calixto R. Martínez and Magaly Norvis Otero reported threats in May and June, respectively. Psychologist and independent journalist Guillermo Fariñas was detained on several occasions in August. On September 10, former political prisoners Martha Beatriz Roque Cabello of the Cuban Network of Community Reporters and Jorge Luis García Pérez (Antúnez), among other known dissidents, went on hunger strike to demand the release of activist Jorge Vázquez Chaviano. In all, more than thirty activists took part in that action. Amnesty International asked the Cuban government for explanations of the reasons for not releasing dissident Vázquez Chaviano, who had already served his sentence. From abroad other international organizations and institutions supported the strikers’ demands. Although the government decided to release Vázquez Chaviano it has still not done so. In another development, on September 25 state television aired a documentary that sought to show that the hunger strike had been merely make-believe, a “media show” and a “campaign” directed from Miami in complicity with the international press. The official press called the dissidents and blogger Yoani Sánchez “counter-revolutionaries.” On September 11, two political police officers arrested independent journalist Leannes Imbert. On September 13, Cubanet columnist and reporter Alberto Méndez Castelló was arrested for “pubic disorder” and held at the La Tunas prison for two days. The independent agency Hablemos Press has launched a campaign on Facebook and Twitter to demand the release of its reporter Calixto Ramón Martínez Arias, jailed on September 16 and who could be sentenced to up to three years in prison. The agency’s director, Roberto de Jesús Guerra, on September 20 complained that the Cuban authorities would be accusing the journalist of contempt who uncovered a recent outbreak of dengue fever and reported on one of cholera in the eastern part of Cuba. The agency called for the solidarity of news media and the international community. Martínez was arrested as he was investigating a load of medicines and medical equipment donated by the World Health Organization that was believed to have gone wasted in the warehouses at José Martí international airport in Havana. The prestige of the independent bloggers, inside and outside the island, continues to grow. They have shown to be a reliable source of information in dealing with topics of social interest, such as the epidemics of cholera and dengue fever, whose outbreaks were reported since July, and over information on which the government maintains strict control. The same thing happened during a national power outage on September 9, made public for the first time through independent media. The situation of the news agencies continues without any improvement, as they are subjected to vigilance and reprisals by the government and consequently forced to resort to self-censorship. On September 28, there was an arrest of four Italian journalists who were in Camagüey investigating the murder of an elderly couple in Italy in which Cuban youths were involved. The police burst into the place where they were conducting the interviews, seized their photographic and audiovisual equipment and detained them. They were released the following day and then deported by the authorities, alleging that none of them had permission to carry out journalistic work. A proposal to limit or prevent access by the people to alternative information channels remains unchanged. The independent press reflects the complaints of the population that it has not benefited from the fiber optic submarine cable service between Venezuela and Cuba. Regarding the Internet, a Freedom House report published in September placed Cuba alongside Iran and China among the countries with the lowest scores concerning freedom on the Web in the period January 2011 to May 2012. In June, independent bloggers held a forum (Festival Clic) on the use of the Internet. The initiative, held in Havana, was labeled a “provocation” and “subversive monstrosity” by official media. Blogger Yoani Sánchez and independent journalists Reinaldo Escobar, her husband, and Agustín López were temporarily detained on October 4 when they were trying to get to the city of Bayamo, capital of Granma province, to attend the trial of Spaniard Ángel Carromero, accused of “involuntary manslaughter” in the death of opposition members Oswaldo Payá and Harold Cepero in a traffic accident on July 22 this year. During a violent struggle with three female police officers that tried to search him, Sánchez lost a tooth, Reinaldo Escobar told the Miami newspaper El Nuevo Herald. They were released 30 hours later. Groups made up mainly of young people are proceeding with their reflections on the national reality and criticizing the Cuban system and government. The government has made efforts to sabotage these projects, especially in the case of Estado de SATS (State of SATS), an independent forum of analysis and debate on the national reality. State Security in August and September carried out a number of operations around its headquarters with the participation of police officers for the purpose of preventing the public from attending. Many people were detained and others were kept from entering. In April the United Nations commission in charge of watching over compliance with the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, in Geneva called for Cuba to account for 2,400 detentions in 2012, among them those of opposition members and independent journalists and bloggers. The report held that “Cuba occupies one of the top places, on a global scale, for the number of prisoners (625) per 100,000 inhabitants.” In May, the United States’ State Department sent Congress its annual report on the state of human rights in the world. In referring to the situation in Cuba the report shows that the majority of human rights violations are “official acts” ordered by the government, which favors a climate of impunity in the country and of “systematic repression of freedoms.” In 2011, it states, there was a “significant increase in the number of short-term detentions.” In September, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) included Cuba, Venezuela, Honduras and Colombia in the so-called Chapter IV of its annual report, devoted to those countries where there are situations that “seriously and gravely affect the enjoyment of fundamental rights.” The IACHR has said in its report that in Cuba “restrictions of political rights, right to association, to freedom of expression and dissemination of thought, the lack of elections, the lack of independence of the judiciary and the restrictions on freedom of movement … have not changed” in comparison with the previous year. Contractor Allan Gross, 62, is serving a fifteen-year prison term after being accused of committing “offenses against State Security” in providing communication equipment to people regarded as members of the opposition. Gross, who is serving his sentence in a military hospital, has lost 103 pounds and is suffering from chronic arthritis and depression. On September 25, a bipartisan group of forty-four United States senators called for his release on humanitarian grounds and declared that his imprisonment was a “great obstacle” to the improvement of relations between Cuba and the United States. On October 2, his lawyer in the United States announced that he might have cancer and was not receiving adequate medical attention.