The annual Reporters Without Borders Press Freedom Index is out, and Cuba continues to have the least freedom of the press in our part of the globe. No other country in the Americas even comes close to Cuba's lowly ranking. Meanwhile, the United States fell 27 places in the rankings in a worrisome development.
Cuba was ranked 167 out of 178 countries in this year's rankings. That's down one place from last year. Only countries in the Middle East, Africa and Asia -- includes China, Iran, North Korea, and the worst-ranked Eritrea -- ranked lower.
"Bringing up the rear in the hemisphere, Cuba (167th) released the last of its jailed dissident journalists on March 8, the only one still held of those detained during the 'Black Spring' of 2003," reports the rankings. "However, it did not fulfill the hopes this raised of an improvement in civil liberties and human rights. Crackdowns and short-term detentions continued to be a threat for journalists and bloggers outside state control."
Mexico, oddly enough, is the only country in the Americas that even comes close to Cuba's ranking. Our neighbor to the south is ranked 149th.
Evo Morales' Bolivia ranked 108th, and Hugo Chavez' Venezuela was 117th.
The U.S., meanwhile, was ranked 47th, which ties it with Romania and Argentina. That's a 27 place drop since last year, and we're ranked below countries like Jamaica, El Salvador, Ghana and Botswana.
"The United States (47th) also owed its fall of 27 places to the many arrests of journalist covering Occupy Wall Street protests," reports RWB. "In the space of two months in the United States, more than 25 were subjected to arrests and beatings at the hands of police who were quick to issue indictments for inappropriate behavior, public nuisance or even lack of accreditation."
Keep Miami New Times Free... Since we started Miami New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Miami, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Miami with no paywalls.