CONCLUSIONS The crack of the rifle and pistol is the trademark sound of the challenges and risks of journalism in the Americas as the Inter American Press Association holds its 50th General Assembly. This is the journalism that sometimes is forced to live in fear more of the assassin's bullet than the censor's pencil and scissors. Since this assembly last met in Bariloche, Argentina, 18 journalists of the Americas have been silenced through this ultimate censorship. Ten have been murdered in Colombia alone, four in Mexico, three in Guatemala and one in Brazil. In every single instance, their murderers so far have gotten off scot -free. It is the exception rather than the rule that anyone even is charged in such cases. In Colombia, Mexico and Guatemala especially, the terrible message to enemies of democracy and freedom of expression is clear: One doesn't have to go through the messy process of restrictive legislation and legal suits to intimidate or silence the press. A bullet is faster, cleaner and virtually immune from legal punishment. This "hear no evil, see no evil" attitude of legal authorities and the courts extends as well to kidnappings, beatings, destruction of equipment, threats and other hostile acts against journalists. The requirement of a university degree, the obligation to belong to a public or private organization, or any other limitation on the exercise of the human right to seek and relay news and opinion is clearly undemocratic. Such laws and regulations all spring from the same concept: that only a few have the ability to know what the peoples of the hemiisphere want or need. That idea was the basis of the dictatorships that used to be the scourge of Central and South America, Sorne want to impose educational requirements or other artificiallimits on journalists. An ill-named "right of reply" is being proposed or already exists in Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Ecuador, Paraguay, Uruguay and elsewhere. The withholding of government advertising, spurious lawsuits against the media, and intimidation by narcotraffickers al! have the effect of putting a damper on the free exercise of journalism. In the Ciudad del Este region of eastern Paraguay, on that country's border with Brazil, the flouting of drug laws and the naked intimidation of journalists are especial!y egregious. In no other nation in the hemisphere, however, is the assault on a free press so sustained, so vicious and, sadly, so effective as in the Communist dictatorship of Fidel Castro's Cuba. Still Public Enemy No. 1 of a free press in the Americas, as proclaimed by the IAPA years ago, Communist Cuba allows no expression of opinion other than that espoused by the government. Of the 600 political prisoners in the Byzantine prison system of Cuba, 43 per cent are serving sentences for the catch-all "crime" of "divulging enemy propaganda." Yndamiro Restano Díaz, vice president of the Association of Independent Journalists in Cuba, is serving a 10-year sentence for publishing works "inciting to civic disobedience and actions against the socialist society." The journalist and poet is being held illegally and in contravention of internationallaw, according to the U.N. Human Rights Commission. Until recently, Cuba had a partner in repression in the military dictatorship of Haiti. The return of the Rev. ]ean-Bertrand Aristide as the elected president of Haiti, under a U.S.-brokered agreement with the military, has created the climate for the return of a free press as well. The reopening of the newspaper Liberté and of several radio stations was a promising sign, though the process of democratic renewal in Haiti is a delicate one.