Jimmy Roque Martinez
HAVANA TIMES — Last July, the controversial speech given by the assistant director of the official Granma newspaper during a meeting of the Cuban Journalists Association circulated around the internet and was passed around on USB sticks on the island.
As we already know, Holguin reporter Jose Ramirez Pantoja published the contents of this speech in full on his personal blog. However, this act of journalistic and human integrity was “rewarded” with the journalist’s immediate firing from the Cuban government radio station where he worked.
Day after day, I’m becoming more and more convinced that the Cuban government’s madness and stupidity know no bounds.
A few years ago, Cuba’s vice-president, Miguel Diaz Canel, defended the role Cuban journalism plays and its duty to report the truth.
However, as well as the government’s traditional censorship of right-wing media, a few months ago, they also began to shut down various blogs on their own Cubava platform, such as Observatorio Critico, Proyecto Arcoiris, Bubusopia, amongst others.
Then young government journalists who also contribute to independent media were threatened.
Now, they’ve fired a professional for informing his readers, for having published an opinion that the vast majority of Cuban journalists working in all kinds of media agree with.
Furthermore, the journalist Fernando Ravsberg and his website Cartas desde Cuba, are being pressured by the government.
We know that Internet on the island is expensive, but a percentage of the people have access to it and they look up the news. There is also the “weekly package”, which is self-censored so that it can continue to survive, but it always has one or another piece of politically interesting news or tongue-in-cheek criticism.
A new initiative has also been set up which offers an alternative package, “el paquetito”, where the content is exclusively political and includes articles and videos, which are mostly produced by Cuba’s right-wing opposition.
Likewise, many Cubans receive news from a lot of blogs that send out their bulletins by email. Miami TV channels are also watched in many Havana neighborhoods, illegally.
This is why it doesn’t make any sense to continue on with this absurd censorship. The truth can’t be hidden for much longer. It’s time for the government to face the facts and accept that they are losing control over the information that many Cuban people are taking in.
Cuban government media is discredited in the eyes of the Cuban people; very few believe it anymore. Printed newspapers are only bought to substitute toilet paper at home, because the latter is so expensive.
The Cuban population is aging and young people are emigrating, so if the government censors and tramples on the dignity of those who are talented and want to work, they won’t have many other choices.
Many of them will leave the country, others will join the opposition, several will give in to their censors and continue to write for alternative media channels using pen names, while some will become mediocre and accept the censorship.
In any case, the government will not be able to recover its yesteryear status as the country’s “only informer”.
The situation today is a disgrace, but I don’t believe that trivialities, silliness, birthday celebrations that nobody is interested in, hiding the truth and the manipulation of Cuba’s government media, will last for much longer.
It’s unsustainable out of a question of respect, but more than anything, because alternative media outlets are becoming more and more accessible.