HAVANA TIMES – Before arriving to the island, I distinctly remember being told, “Cuba puts you in another level field. You come to find the world in the island” and as I sat in a room full of Latin-American left winged guerrilleros those words echoed in my head.
Before I dive into the situation, I want to try to explain why I was amazed at being in that situation. As a product of my own environment, I was unaware that movements like the Sandinistas, FARC, etc., were found outside textbooks, let alone actively recruiting and organizing outside their country.
Both liberal and conservative news outlets in the States can be monotonous in their news, making it is surprisingly hard to find outside perspectives on what is happening in the world. Many times, I’ve had to turn to comedy and satire to get a more balanced briefing of world news. But even so, I’ve hit the same brick wall, in that they are the same news just a different face telling them.
Then I came to the realization part, the realization that in the home of the brave and the free there is little freedom of press. While it is true that you can say and write whatever your heart desires to little or no self-harm as a journalist, it is almost impossible to make headlines if your topic of discussion goes against a national interest.
Topics such as who is running for president in a LatinAmerican country where the US has interests involved, or a how a country that is turning socialist in Latin America is faring. To help escape these undrawn lines, the internet is supposed to be a tool but search engines such as Google and social media tailor what you read according to your likes and dislikes. So, in a sense you are always trapped in this bubble of information. A bubble that you never see until you are exposed to different views or live elsewhere. Thus, to be truly informed, you must really dig outside your comfort area.
In Cuba, I see a similar pattern in that the state also controls what the people read but the one thing that Cubans have is the world. A “third world country” with the diversity of a “first world country” goes to make an interesting juxtaposition and it blurs the line between what the state reports as facts and what actually happens. It is naïve to think that any form of governmental system can be perfect in divulging accurate information but it is not unrealistic to expect that all information be shared so we can individually dissect it and make our own decision.
So as that night unveiled and we all cheered for a more cohesive Latin America, I distinctly recalled reading about two brothers and a group of friends that had met in Mexico. A group that had hopes of a brighter future for this island and through a series of events went from talking to actively organizing a movement. These brothers and friends went to be known as heroes and public enemies, depending on who you asked.