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Cuba leads in regional race to the bottom

Cuba (4th quartile) has the lowest freedom of expression score in the region – only 10 places from the global bottom. Cuba is an outlier for the regions in terms of its scores, which are more than two standard deviations below the regional average.

Cuba scored 0.04 for Freedom of Expression is; 0.06 for Civic Space; 0.03 for Digital; 0.01 for Media; 0.07 for Protection; and 0.04 for Transparency.

The repressive atmosphere worsened during 2018, prompted by the general election. Security forces continued to harass CSOs, journalists, and HRDs.

A huge range of repressive measures – from home raids and intimidation of family members to arbitrary and preventative detentions – were employed over the course of the year, choking speech and ensuring an easy victory for the state narrative.[1]

Digital censorship in Cuba continued unabated, with limited connectivity and significant levels of blocking and filtering of sites the authorities deemed unsuitable.

Freedom of artistic expression came under a new legislative attack, unleashing creative protests in 2018. Decree 349 – a law that criminalises art the Cuban states’ official cultural institutions do not recognise – sparked controversy; artists across the country protested, and at least 19 were arrested.[2] In November, seven artists planned a public group meditation session as a form of peaceful protest against Decree 349, but they were arrested and kept in separate police stations for a number of hours. The artists were finally released and advised to ‘meditate at home’.[3]


[1] Edison Lanza, Relator Especial para la Libertad de Expresión, Informe Anual de la Comisión Interamericana de Derechos Humanos 2018, OEA/SER.L/V/II, 17 March 2019, available at

[2] Freemuse, The State of Artistic Freedom 2019, available at

[3] Freemuse, The State of Artistic Freedom 2019, available at