At a congressional hearing, Carlos Martínez de la Serna, program director at the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), highlighted the most pressing threats to the media in Cuba and called on Congress to act when and where it can make a difference for Cuba’s journalists.
The hearing, which focused on human rights in Cuba, took place before the House Committee on Foreign Affairs’ Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere, Civilian Security, and Trade. In his testimony, Martínez de la Serna described the dangers and challenges faced by Cuba’s independent journalists and media outlets, including detention, surveillance, and smear campaigns; legal barriers to internet access; and a legal framework that punishes independent journalism. He called on the U.S. to consider Cuban journalists’ work as a basis for a well-founded fear of persecution if and when they apply for asylum.
“While there are still many hurdles on the path to U.S.-Cuba normalization, the effect of greater communication between both countries could be positive for freedom of expression on the island. As a result, journalists will hopefully be able to do their jobs without the constant threat of violence or imprisonment solely for reporting and expressing critical opinions, and with the prospect of internet access without filters, obstructions, or prohibitive costs,” said Martínez de la Serna.
Martínez de la Serna testified alongside Carlos Quesada, executive director at the International Institute on Race, Equality, and Human Rights, and John Suarez, executive director at the Center for a Free Cuba.