CONCLUSIONS The muffled scream and the screech of tires have joined the crackle of gunfire in parts of the Americas, as kidnappers do the dirty work that was formerly the province of paid assassins. Their victims, now as before, often are journalists. Their employers, now as before, are assumed to be the cocaine lords who have declared war on civilized society. A wave of kidnappings unprecedented in the world has swept Colombia this year, with more than 862 kidnappings having been reported so far in 1990. Among these was the abduction, just one month ago, of Francisco Santos Calderon, news editor of El Tiempo. The driver of the armored car in which many Colombian journalists are forced to drive these days was brutally slain. Just two weeks before, a team of six journalists headed by Diana Turbay, managing editor of Hoy par Hoy magazine, disappeared while attempting to contact a guerrilla chieftain. Others who vanished with her were Juan Vitta, editor of Hoy par Hoy, Azucena Lievano of the Cripton television news program, cameramen Richard Becerra and Orlando Acevedo and German correspondent Hero Buss. Eight other journalists were abducted by members of the guerrilla movement between March and May, and later released. Yamid Amat, news editor of Radio Caracol, was the victim of a failed kidnap attempt in August. However, the paid killers have not let their work go entirely neglected. While 19 news employees were murdered in Colombia last year, at least seven have been slain so far in 1990. Journalists continue to be subjected to terrorist violence in Peru, El Salvador and Guatemala. In Mexico, death threats, jailings and the savage beatings of journalists, often with official complicity, continue to stain the human rights defense policy of President Carlos Salinas de Gortari. In Cuba, described by IAPA Cuba program committee chairman Roberto Fabricio as the "darkest corner of our hemisphere, " the world of Franz Kafka has become very real. There, between 36 and 40 persons are behind bars for having committed" crimes of information." Three Cubans, the subjects of a March report to this assembly, remain imprisoned under desperate conditions. Hiram Abi Cobas, Elizardo Sanchez Santa Cruz and Hubert Jerez Marino each was sentenced to two years in prison for the "crime" of talking with U.S. reporters about the trial of Gen. Arnaldo Ochoa. The three have been designated this year's recipients of the IAPA-Pedro Joaquin Chamorro Award. A number of samizdat publications at one time had given hope that the news blackout imposed on the Cuban people would be penetrated somewhat. Now all have been driven out of existence. The publisher of Franqueza, Samuel Martinez Lara, has been in custody at state security headquarters in Villa Marista since March 10. Human rights activist Tania Diaz Castro was re-arrested in March for having written a letter to the U.N. Human Rights Commission, commending it for demanding a closer accounting of Cuban actions in human rights cases, In August, she appeared on television to denounce what she called U.S. involvement in the flooding of Western embassies by asylum seekers last summer. Ms. Diaz, the former wife of IAPA-designated "Martyr of Journalism" Guillermo Rivas Porta, apparently had been brainwashed. "Everything possible must be done to let the light into the darkness that is Cuba today," said Robert Cox, chairman of the IAPA Freedom of the Press and Information Committee, upon his return from a trip to Cuba. Another "dark hole" of journalism in the Americas is hard-pressed Haiti, where to carry the journalist's badge almost is to carry one's own death warrant. There, the hope of freedom that flickered with the end of Duvalier despotism in the 1980s has all but been extinguished at the beginning of the 1990s. The death squads' growing toll has included journalists who dared to seek the truth. Others have been defeated by death threats, beatings and the confiscation of their equipment. For all the brutality that confronts journalists in some parts of the hemisphere, a new spirit of press freedom marks a number of former dictatorships. Journalists in Paraguay, Chile, Panama and Nicaragua now operate in near-total freedom. In Nicaragua, two new weeklies, at least 15 new radio newscasts, and political party publications banned by the previous regime all are publishing or broadcasting now -- and all oppose the new democratic government. In Panama, the newspapers of Editora Panama America have been returned by the Supreme Court to their legitimate owners, though a labor dispute keeps the company's assets in limbo. The ownership and legal situation of the newspaper Ya also remain unresolved. Elsewhere in the hemisphere, the old press bugaboos of the obligatory licensing of journalists and the mandated "right to reply" continue to hinder the free practice of journalism. Even in the emerging democracies, new challenges constantly arise, as new laws and constitutions are written that don't fully recognize the role of a free press in a free society. An example is the new legal requirement in Paraguay that publications give free space to candidates for elective public office. Wherever the battle for a free press is joined, in lingering dictatorships or in longtime democracies, eternal vigilance is the only antidote to official constraints on press freedom.