Blogs are Cuba's free speech outlet: media rights group
In communist Cuba, where only state media exist locally, a vibrant blogger culture has emerged as a venue for critical commentary, a leading journalists' rights group said Thursday.
"Despite vast legal and technical obstacles, a growing number of Cuban bloggers have prevailed over the regime?s tight Internet restrictions to disseminate island news and views online," said a report from the New-York based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).
"The bloggers, mainly young adults from a variety of professions, have opened a new space for free expression in Cuba, while offering a fresh glimmer of hope for the rebirth of independent ideas in Cuba?s closed system."
The CPJ said at least 25 independent journalistic blogs are being produced by Cuban writers. Another 75 independent blogs are up and running, though they are not news-based and focus on personal interests, the report found.
Unlike some independent journalists in the 1990s who took on the government in a confrontational fashion, the bloggers have set themselves apart from dissidents and the government focusing more simply on information, the authors of the CPJ report, Carlos Lauria and Maria Salazar Ferro, wrote.
Bloggers are typically between 20 and 30 years in age and most are students, teachers, artists or musicians who live in Havana where access to computers and the Internet is a bit easier than across the rest of the island of more than 11 million, the report noted.
In Havana, Internet access is available to those paying in hard currency. Cubans earn, on average, the equivalent of less then 20 dollars a month.
Cuban officials say 13 percent of the population has Internet access but the real proportion of people online is thought to be far lower.
© 2009 AFP