Should I Believe You Granma?

Erazmo Calzadilla

Looking towards Old Havana.  Photo: Caridad
Looking towards Old Havana. Photo: Caridad

On Thursday, November 19, there appeared a relatively extensive article in the newspaper Granma titled “The Intellectual Orphanage of Human Rights Watch.”

A journalist for the official organ of the Party informed us that the preceding day this NGO had accused the “island” of failing to improve its human rights record.

It was here where I begin to doubt the intentions of that columnist. Did Human Rights Watch (HRW) really accuse the “island”? – because it’s difficult for a mound of rock in the middle of the sea to violate human rights.

Wasn’t the accusation made against the government of the Republic of Cuba? And isn’t the author translating that as the “island” in an attempt to dilute the accusation by indicting all islanders?

This would have been cleared up in a click if I had had the opportunity to read the HRW report with my own eyes; but neither Granma nor any other national newspaper believed it was necessary -even out of elementary respect for their readers- to present a translation of the charge along with the commentary.

This time, like almost always, we had to be satisfied with the filtered version of the middlemen, who on occasions such as this seem more like vulgar manipulators of the truth than they do experts.

In the subsequent paragraphs, the fudging of language continued as Granma affirmed that HRW sought “to throw lifejackets to domestic counterrevolutionary forces paid by the anti-Cuban lobby within the government of the USA.”

Stated this way, the opposition in Cuba -which was lumped together here under the label of “counterrevolutionary,” thus accentuating their villainous character- seems to consist of a unitary group of mercenaries at the service of the USA.

I don’t doubt they do in fact exist, but it’s obvious that not all opponents and dissidents are paid by the “Yankees.” I know many who would never sell themselves, despite the miserable situations in which they live.  Many people of conviction, capable of great sacrifices for their ideas, are now tossed into the same bag as the real mercenaries.

The journalist then asserted that HRW “pursues no other aim than to maintain the blockade.” It is true that certain degenerates sustain the embargo and justify it with criticisms like these against the Cuban government; however, I recently had the privilege -impossible for the vast majority of Cubans- of viewing this NGO’s webpage, where I read with my own eyes their president’s statement:

“The embargo has failed and it should be ended.  Instead of isolating Cuba, that policy has isolated the United States because it has allowed Castro’s government to garner international sympathy, alienating potential allies from Washington.”

This is to say -contrary to what is claimed by Granma (the only contact with the world for ordinary Cubans)- the “kow-towing” president of HRW not only disapproves of the blockade, but is also calling for its end from within the very bowels of the empire that imposes it.  In addition, he denounces serious human rights violations within the US itself.

So I don’t see how HRW can be so casually labeled as being biased and a brownnoser, as Granma would lead us to believe.  This is called lying, or at least hiding information, and that’s serious for any press media.

In short, it’s an article that tries to convince us that the violation of some human rights doesn’t exist in Cuba.  But it does so with such poor technique -characteristic of those who lack reason, trying divert attention by slinging insults at the accuser- that I really find it difficult to believe.

This is not an approach to the issue that involves the depth and calm calculation it deserves. And I imagine it disappointed not only me, but many of those who would expect a different kind of response from a self-proclaimed Marxist, proletarian and comunist government.

8 thoughts on “Should I Believe You Granma?

  • I’ve finally found something with ‘substance’ that contests the infamous HRW report:

    That article led me to read the original report, to check if it’s excerpts were appropriately used and contextualized by the author. If you read carefully the last ‘Recommendations’ bit, you’ll see that HRW actually proposes the substitution of the actual blockade policy for another blockade policy.

  • Julio, I went to the Yoani website you mentioned, but couldn’t figure out how to carry on a dialogue there.

    I don’t understand your: “If it is . . . partial ownership it is not socialism.” Let’s try to clarify this.

    Let’s say there’s a hypothetical socialist regime under which most enterprise is 100% owned by the employees. How would the socialist gov’t get its necessary revenues? It would need an income tax, cooperative taxes, property taxes, etc., etc. and the tax laws and bureaucracies to collect those taxes. This might work–it’s how it’s done under capitalism–but it would be cumbersome, wasteful, and a pain in the ass for everyone.

    It would be better to have most enterprise 50% employee-owed coops (common, controlling stock), and 50% gov’t–owned (preferred, non-controlling stock). This way, no gov’t enterprise bureaucracy. This way, no tax laws or bureaucracies. Employees & gov’t would receive quarterly dividends.

    It’s a way to have workable…

  • If it is partial ownership the it is not socialism Ross. It will be just a way for them to keep themselves in power.
    Economically it has been proof by so many countries that fail at socialism. It does not work.
    In 50 years they have totally destroy the island.
    It has nothing to do with embargo it has more to do with mismanagement and the craziness of the leaders decisions.

  • Why doesn’t Granma allow readers to post comments on its articles? Every other online news source does this. Why not Granma?

  • Michael and Grady, two questions if you care to answer them.

    Don’t you think the reason the regime censors and controls the information being received by the Cuban people is because it knows that’s the only way the regime can keep its grip on power? Conversely, if the regime allowed the Cuban people the freedom to express themselves, wouldn’t it follow that many Cubans would also demand that the Castro regime give up its monopoly on power, and hold genuinely free and fair multiparty elections?

  • The way GRANMA–which is to say the Communist Party of Cuba–has continued to filter the news in this manner shows lack of respect for their readers and constituents, as if only the Party knows how to interpret reality. Have faith in the people, their intelligence, their decency, their rationality. Treat them like the adults they are. They don’t need to be spoon fed. Reminds me of an incident once told me by a friend, a 102-year-old former ballarina, who temporarily found herself in a nursing home while recovering from hip surgery. The home’s social director invited all residents to a “happy hour.” (This usually implies an afternoon soiree where mixed drinks are served.) Immagine her surprise when, upon arriving at the so-called “happy hour,” all the guests were served nothing more than non-alcoholic grape juice! She was highly insulted. Seems like GRANMA has been serving up such grape juice, when it should have been serving Mohitos.

  • I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. The US regime needs a failed Cuban economy in order to keep the US people–and other people all over the world–believing that socialism is not a viable alternative to monopoly capitalism. If this is true, the US will never end the blockade. That’s the bad news.

    The good news is that, if Cuba should wake up and develop a dynamic, workable form of socialism–I’m talkin’ about partial state ownership of the means of production through worker-co-owned cooperative corporations–she would accomplish two important things immediately: (1) Show the people of the US and the world that socialism is a viable alternative; and (2) Bring about a profound prosperity all over the island.

    With such a positive example of socialism in Cuba, the US people would soon demand an end to the embargo, and the embargo would be lifted.

    The way to keep the criminal embargo in place is to keep bureaucratic state socialism in place.

    Good luck, Cuba.

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