In 2011, Cuba's President Raul Castro called on Cubans to be more critical of the government, acknowledging that the Communist Party had failed its citizens on a number of levels.

Five years ago I started a blog which is very different from what I do as the director of the state paper.... On my blog, I talk about homosexuality, paternity and the fact that I'm HIV-positive. In a way, I lead a double life as a journalist because the blog has become an alternative media space for me.

'Paquito' Rodriguez, director of state newspaper 'Trabajadores' and blogger

However, some saw that as a cosmetic statement, an official strategy to coopt dissent. Internet connectivity on the island is an issue and although there is growing number of critical voices online, they are only accessible to those who can afford to log on.

Cuba is one of the least wired countries in the western hemisphere - numbers differ but only 3-25 percent of the population can log on - and even then it costs them $4.50 an hour – that is close to the average weekly pay package.

In the past, the government has blamed low internet penetration on the US trade embargo - a lack of equipment. Critics say it is simply about shutting down debate.

But Cuba's increasingly diverse community of journalists and bloggers has risen to the challenge in recent years - providing a more nuanced forum for debate.

The Listening Post's Marcela Pizarro travelled to Havana to meet three independent Cuban journalists who have been invoking the wrath of both, the pro and anti-Castro sides of the media divide - and they are wearing those badges with pride.

Source: Al Jazeera