Writing “Objectively” about Cuba
By Pedro Pablo Morejon
HAVANA TIMES – I’ve been going through my articles for Havana Times recently. Trying to be as empathetic as possible, I discovered that many of my chronicles or opinions can be interpreted, a lot of the time, as me trying to always paint a negative picture of Cuba. Or in the best of cases, that I have a bitter view of our reality.
That’s while always trying to give a touch of humor to my articles.
However, this could not be further from the truth. Even though I’ve never studied a Journalism degree, I go to great lengths to be objective. However, nothing is completely objective when you’re speaking from the heart. Even so, I always try to be true when reflecting the situation on this small piece of land I’ve been destined to live on.
I can’t sugarcoat reality though, unfortunately. For example, I can’t hide the freedoms we’re missing, or the everyday hurdles we Cubans have to jump just to ensure the basic needs of every human being.
Here, something as basic as putting food in your stomach becomes a struggle that can’t even be compared to prehistoric times when cavemen had to hunt down mammoths.
Any aspect of Cuban reality that you want to examine will inevitably give you hives. Almost everything is bad!
Transport, housing, food, services, labor rights, individual freedoms, democracy, decency… and a long list of others.
I say almost everything so as not to be absolutist about it.
Free education and health care
Not even alleged achievements in the fields of health and education can be presented as proof of a superior society.
Medicine shortages right now are alarming, not to mention prices have gone up. The COVID-19 situation here in Cuba has also meant that health services have now been limited to emergency cases. Nothing can even be said about the proliferation of scabies, rodents, dengue fever, etc.
The only thing we can say about our education system is that nobody is illiterate in our country. That’s it. We are living under the yoke of a politicized education, the main function of which seems to be to indoctrinate Cubans from an early age.
I would prefer not to write about that. Instead, I’d like to write that Cuba is an example of a dignified country, where its residents live freely and have an acceptable quality of life. A country that resembles what many of us Cuban want. Like the dream of that person I wrote about in an article here about a year ago.
But I can’t present a pretend reality like the one fabricated by official media.
That would be going against the truth. I have literature if I want to write fiction.
26 thoughts on “Writing “Objectively” about Cuba”
Your search for revenge can only ever you lead you toward even greater dissatisfaction.
How many parts of the world have you ever visited?
Go on a worldwide tour and come back and tell me about your findings.
Actually you would probably find that Cuba is one of the not quite so bad countries on God’s imperfect little planet.
I am in favour of positive changes in Cuba.
But I am also in favour of the factual and the pragmatic against your unremittingly negative, revenge based, doom-laden, negative rhetoric.
Olgita, you need to do some weight training.
Build up some muscles.
Then maybe, just maybe……
You will have the strength to turn the page.
I wish you good luck with this.
On Nick, you are really relentless in your “sneaky” support to the Cuban Dictatorship. If wasn’t for the 2 and half millions Cubans exiled, the opposition and the intimidation that Cubans suffer daily and keep them in silence. I bet you would dare to say that the 11 millions Cubans are behind the dictatorship. You are incredible and beyond relentless.
There will always be apologists for dictatorships.
How long now has the Castro one lasted? 62 years a communist dictatorship.
Europe got lucky and disposed of it. Cuba not so lucky.
I think there is a misapprehension regarding the reality of democracy here.
Voter turnout is a variable. Voter turnout is never 100%. There are always abstentions. This is because some people have always got better things to do than show up and do some voting.
This applies everywhere including Cuba.
The NOs and the Abstentions pretty much always add up to over 50%.
It is extremely rare that anyone is ever elected by more than 50% of the electorate.
Unless we are talking about Russia where Señor Putin (trump’s big boss daddy) manages to get 125% of the vote each time!!
It seems to you that the same thing happened to Columbus when he discovered the Americas and thought he had arrived in India. Which Cuba was the one that you visited? Because I have lived in Cuba since I was born and I have seen and do see hungry and poorly dressed people. Those who have good clothes and money for their cell phones in most cases are thanks to relatives abroad.
The 2019 Cuban Constitution, which establishes that the Communist Party is the leading force in Cuban society, was not voted on by the majority of Cubans. The abstentions and the Nos exceeded 50%, but in Cuba the dictatorship manipulates the data.
If you think that by spending a few days visiting as a privileged tourist in Cuba you already know the reality of the country, you are wrong.
I don’t see any skinny starving Cubans. Everyone has Jewerly, false nails, false hair, tattoos and clothes of current fashion and plenty of new Nikes. Teens all have phones and plenty of money for Facebook. I know what poverty looks like. I’ve seen it around the world and in the United States. I have lived it.
These are hard times for the world. How can anyone say Cuba is not democratic when they voted for a new constitution in February 2019. The EEUU has a 200 year old constitution written by the wealthiest 1% of slaveholders. It didn’t work when it was new (which is why the first 10 amendments were added right after it was approved). and it doesn’t work now.
United States citizens do not elect their president. The Electoral College does and we have seen how easy it is to challenge “Votes”. This was never meant to be a democracy and with the way Georgia Republicans are changing the laws to prevent black people from voting next time, you can’t argue that this is or every was a democracy.
Poland was under control of the extreme right during World War 2.
Then post-war it was under Communist governance for around 45 years.
Then it had a 30 or so year period of relative liberal democracy.
Over the past decade or so it has been swinging back toward the extreme right.
There are Polish commentators saying that the state TV channel is now more biased toward the far right government than it ever was toward the Communists.
I have very good, normal, liberal minded, democracy-loving friends from Poland who tell me that these developments are extremely worrying to them.
They say they don’t want to go back to their own country.
I suggest that it’s always good to do some research before writing articles.
Pedro – I wish you good luck in everything. Including your desire to see positive changes in Cuba.
Mr. Nick, I wrote an article in which I was interested in showing my desire for Cuba to have a transition to democracy and an economic take-off similar to Poland. I write about Cuba not about another country. To write as you wish then it would be a book and not an article. But I see that you don’t understand that. I will no longer respond to your comments, it has overcome me due with fatigue.
I do apologise – I missed your previous comment. Thank you for repeating it.
The short answer to your question is yes.
And yes again – I fully understand Pedro’s article.
And I definitely maintain my questioning of it. I find it extremely strange that it refers to Poland but doesn’t mention where Poland has swung to today – to the far right (as you have now described it).
It is like not mentioning the very large elephant sitting in the middle of a very small room..
Which is why I would again ask Pedro the very simple question:
When you wrote your recent article which referenced Poland and how well it is doing, did you choose not mention the fact that over the past several years Poland has swung to the far right?
Or were you simply not aware of this fact?
To my mind, an answer to this simple question would very easily clarify and finish the matter.
Nick, I am going to repost this here since you may not have seen it on Pedro’s actual piece regarding Poland and Cuba. I wrote: Nick, you are sounding like a broken record. And you also fail to realize the main points of Pedro’s post refer to the Polish rebellion against communist rule and the similarity to the impoverished and repressive state of their country in the 1980s and Cuba today. They were able to establish a democratic country after a tremendous struggle. Where that has swung today, to the far right, isn’t my cup of tea either, but can be changed by the voters in the future. Under communist, or other forms of dictatorial rule, there is no possibility of changing direction or booting out the corrupt leaders at the ballot box. Get the difference? I look forward to a clear yes or no answer.
I congratulate you on your time spent in Cuba. I was previously a resident of Cuba and have spent a good deal of time there over the past 25 years. I know the country and it’s many faults very well.
I have many Cuban friends who have various political viewpoints. I know many people there who are dissatisfied with the current system. And I also have friends there who are not even slightly interested in politics at all.
Very right wing nationalistic regimes are on the rise in certain parts of the world. Poland is a radical example. There is nothing ‘benign’ about it. This ultra right wing trend certainly has it’s supporters. Perhaps you are one. It makes no difference to me what it is that you support.
You previously referred to Poland’s history. I came back with certain facts regarding Poland’s past and present. You have not responded. Perhaps because you have no response.
But you have written a comment directed at me which seems to confuse actual and metaphorical cancer – which is very strange indeed.
In this comment you refer to me as a ‘whiner’ and a ‘communist sympathiser’.
If you expect me to fire back some insults in response to this, then I shall disappoint you.
I’m not even slightly interested in a pointless exchange of insults.
If you don”y like current polish government do something about it.
Protest on the streets, support the opposition and don’t be a whiner.
Calling communist government of Cuba “benign and lacklustre” , critiquing Pedro and Havana Times for what they writing and publishing is a communist sympathizer’s swan song.
Cancer of Cuba was never benign and Butcher of La Cabana was its DNA.
CimaVax , lung cancer treatment was developed in Cuba and I believe that cuban communist cancer treatment is being tested right now, by people like Pedro and Havana Times.
Please read excellent post by Stephen again. Print it, post on your fridge, bathroom mirror and read again, before you write anything. I spent six weeks in Havana and Valle the Vinales last winter. Sixty years of “benign and lacklustre” cancer left country in ruins.Just like countries under communist regimes in Europe before November 1989.
Thank you Stephen an Pedro.
In your recent article you speak highly of modern day Poland. You mention how well the Polish economy is doing despite Covid (for some reason you do not mention that Poland is propped up economically by the EU or that out of all EU countries it is statistically by far the largest beneficiary of EU funding).
But no. You are correct. You did not say that you approved of the current government or that you supported the suppression of free speech, the new denialism regarding Holocaust involvement, the politicising of the judiciary, the ban on abortion, the anti semitism, the white supremacy, the islamophobia, the anti-LGBT rights or the fact that Poland (under its current government) is a beacon of hope to far-right supporters throughout Europe. You mentioned none of those aspects. Not a single one of them.
So please permit me to ask you a very simple question Pedro:
When you wrote your recent article which referenced Poland and how well it was doing, did you choose not mention these aspects?
Or were you simply not aware of these aspects?
In what part of my writing do I affirm that Cuba should be like today’s Poland? I want you to point it out to me.
You keep trying to distort the meaning of my article. I will only ponder Poland’s transition to democracy and its subsequent economic take-off. And in that sense I would like Cuba to be the Poland of America.
No yes no why I explain this to you, definitely believe what you want to believe.
I have quite clearly stated that I support your right to write articles about any subject matter you wish. I have stated that I think it is great that Havana Times gives you a platform for your views.
It seems pretty blatantly obvious to me that you have written an article suggesting that Cuba would benefit from copying Poland without actually taking the trouble to research what is currently going on in that country. Your original article mentioned nothing of the repressive right wing government which is currently in power there.
I have pointed out certain facts about modern day Poland and its current governance. These days far right supporters throughout Europe look to Poland and Hungary for legitimacy and leadership.
You obviously do not appreciate that I have pulled you up on this and therefore you are writing an angry and insulting response. You make assumptions about me and accuse me of having views toward Cuba which you have no way of substantiating.
The right wing regime in Poland has made it illegal for anyone to say that any Polish people colluded in the Holocaust. Do you not regard this as repression?
This same regime has very recently made it illegal for Polish women to have control over their own reproduction. Do you not think this is repression?
Finally Pedro, I would like to see positive changes in Cuba but absolutely do not agree with you that Cuba should emulate modern day Poland.
If that’s your viewpoint, I most definitely do not agree with you.
But even if I don’t agree with what you say, I do agree with your right to say it.
Mr. Nick, I can see that you have been stung by the subject of my article on Poland!
The ability you have to distort reality and accommodate it in your favor is also undeniable. You remind me of certain journalists from the press system of the Cuban regime. Your comments are full of straw man fallacies. Who told you that I am a supporter of Trump, Bolsonaro or the current Polish government? Furthermore, at no time have I written that Cuba has to follow the example of Poland 100%. If you have read the post correctly, freeing yourself from your lens obviously favorable to the Cuban dictatorship, you would understand that what I want is for Cuba to have a peaceful transition and an economic take-off like Poland had, a country that despite its defects is among the first in the world according to the Social Progress Index. I am not in favor of copying the negative of that state. But it is no less true that the comparisons you make are laughable. In Poland there is no totalitarian system where only a single party is allowed, there are real elections, and citizens are not systematically repressed for expressing themselves or thinking differently, etc. And that is what happens in Cuba.
On the other hand, your sympathy for the oppressors of Cuba is evident when in your comments you minimize the situation in my country.
Poland’s independence has been a haphazard affair.
Over the years it’s often been a case of you ‘now see it – now you don’t’.
I hope that Cuba’s hard won independence proves to be much more consistent by comparison. Independence is, of course, very important.
As you may possibly know, due to the Ribbentrop/Molotov pact, Poland was, in 1939, carved up between Nazi and Soviet forces.
Once Operation Barbarossa exploded, the Soviets withdrew and left Poland to the Nazis.
Edward, Have you ever heard of the town of Jedwabne ?
Once the Russians left, the Polish inhabitants of the town of Jedwabne were let off the leash by their newfound Nazi overlords.
They herded all their Jewish neighbours into the central square and proceeded to stone, batter and beat these entirely innocent Jews to death. Right there in the town square.
Any survivors of this pogrom were then driven into a barn which was subsequently torched – Burning to death all those inside.
A sad and terrible episode. Unfortunately, not an untypical example.
However, the current ultra right wing regime in Poland has recently made it illegal for anyone to state that Polish people participated in the Holocaust.
The significant remains of Auschwitz are there in southern Poland for all to see but the current regime ridiculously claim that no Poles were involved at the time.
Anti-semitism is once again rife in Poland.
As is Islamophobia. As is the clampdown on the rights of ethnic minorities. As is the clampdown on LBGT rights. As is the clampdown on a woman’s choice whether to reproduce or not. As is the creeping right wing clampdown on the impartiality of the judiciary.
Poland’s governance is more right wing now than at any point since the era of the inhumane disgrace which occurred at Jedwabne.
This is an indisputable fact.
A certain percentage of Polish people of different generations struggled against Nazi rule, struggled against Soviet dominance and now a certain percentage of Polish struggle against the current regime.
In Cuba free speech is limited.
I’m in favour of free speech.
I think it is great that Havana Times gives Cubans, including Pedro, a platform to write articles.
Given that I am in favour of free speech, I think that Pedro should have every right in the world to write articles – including articles which praise the current xenophobic, anti Semitic, anti LGBT, anti gender-equality, ultra right wing, trumpesque Polish regime. A regime which seeks to officially deny the fact that some Polish people colluded in the Holocaust despite the huge amount of evidence that they most definitely did actively collude.
Including the word-of-mouth evidence of Jewish Poles who are still alive today.
I find it most interesting that Havana Times publishes articles which praise this current Polish regime and also find it interesting that this publication has readers who also praise and support this regime.
I simply register my opposition to that article, to those praises and to those points of view.
Quoting you: “During WW2 it was annexed by fascist forces. It was a fascist state. This is a matter of historical fact.
Edward, are you suggesting that this did not happen?”
August 23 1939 , Hitler and Stalin signed Non Aggression Pact. Poland was surrounded from three sides by fascist/socialist Germany and Soviet Union from the East. Soviet communist were ready for new conquest after killing millions of farmers in 1932 and one million in purge of 1937.
September 1, 1939 Hitler’s Wehrmacht and Luftwaffe attacked Poland. Warsaw was bombed relentlessly and German tanks were rolling eastward. On September 17, 1939 Soviet Union attacked from the east. By October 6, Poland was overrun by fascist and communist allies. Soon afterward, trains packed with polish citizens started rolling to Siberia. Thousand of Polish Army officers were killed and buried in mass graves. Total of over 5 million Poles almost 20% of population perished during second World War. Warsaw uprising against Germany in August 1944: close to 200 000perished ,city was bombed and burned – 85% destruction.
By your “fact” , Poland, Holland, Belgium, Norway and Denmark were fascist states. Stalin called western communist sympathizers “useful idiots”. Let Cubans decide how to achieve freedom. 62 years of communist not so “benign cancer” are coming to an end. Viva Cuba Libre and hats off to Pedro and Havana Times.
It is always helpful to determine first hand the meaning of words before writing statements that may contradict exactly the point trying to be made. What exactly does “objective” mean? How does it manifest itself in writing?
According to Random House dictionary the word “objective” means: “ being or belonging to the object of perception or thought,  not affected by personal feelings or prejudice,  dealing with things external to the mind rather than with thoughts or feelings, as a book.”
Pedro writes: “ . . . I go to great lengths to be objective. However, nothing is completely objective when you’re speaking from the heart.” He is absolutely correct as defined by the dictionary definition. Pedro certainly belongs to the object of his perception as he has lived his entire life in Cuba, is passionate about its future, and enthusiastically expresses himself with those thoughts in mind. His written contributions, perhaps at times, not so objective, but are more objective than the critical comments he has received, which for the most part are not based on any presented verifiable facts.
He also expresses his personal feelings and prejudices but clearly comes out and tells the reader that, really, nothing, is objective when one is speaking from the heart. So true. Some HT commentators who have taken issue with Pedro with regard to his article about Poland need to reexamine their own prejudicial writings about all the political and cultural negativity aimed at the Polish state which clearly is not objective. Those feelings definitely air on the side of unfavorable prejudice.
Certainly taking Pedro to task about his understanding of how Poland was able to unshackle the communist grip on the country is certainly not being “objective” and certainly is subjective at best. There is nothing wrong with obviously being subjective as long as one is not casting stones, that is, negative aspersions, at glass houses.
Objective writing requires a great deal of statistical, factual writing which is quiet absent in the assault on Pedro’s positive Poland prejudice. His lived experiences in Cuba and expressing it as best as he sees it (verifiable) certainly out weights the inferences propagated by some insinuating that Poland an extreme right wing political ideologue, so some say, is unfit to be emulated by any state.
It is a bit disingenuous for some to suggest Pedro does not write “objectively”, yet some of those same writers claim to be writing objectively by spouting inferences and at best guesses of their perceived rightfulness.
What I have written here clearly is not objective. That is obvious. I have written subjectively because I am expressing “feelings”, a prejudice, an opinion not based on verifiable facts. Havana Times is an open minded forum for anyone to freely express their objective or subjective thoughts and for comment commentators to express their opinions. This is a good democratic objective.
For one individual to write unabashedly: “I find it totally astonishing that Havana Times publishes an article from someone who recommends that Cuba follows in the footsteps of Poland.” it’s clearly a subjective statement indicating more about the writer’s feelings than the object of his writing. Absolutely no objectivity there.
Did I say that Poland is a fascist state?
No. I most certainly did not.
I said that Poland is currently more right wing than at any time since the days when it was a fascist state.
Which Poland was.
During WW2 it was annexed by fascist forces. It was a fascist state. This is a matter of historical fact.
Edward, are you suggesting that this did not happen?
Poland a fascist state?
A communist government in Cuba: “relatively benign lacklustre banality of the current Cuban government”?
Quoting Nick: Writing an article when one has zero knowledge of the subject is not good. Look in the mirror.
Kudos to brave Cubans like Pedro.
Thank you Olga.
I find it amazing to see people who are fine with regimes such as the Polish regime or the disgraced trump regime go on to criticise the relatively benign lacklustre banality of the current Cuban government.
Get some perspective. Get a reality check!!
I regard the status quo in Cuba to be poor and look forward to changes.
I hope that change comes sooner rather than later. I hope that these changes are for the better and not for the worse. I hope Cuba goes upwards not downwards.
To look at the anti intellectual, dumbed-down and twisted Andrzej Duda or trump-the-loser regimes and suggest that they are in any way comparable to Cuba or in any way preferable is something of a joke.
I would suggest that people don’t fall into the following trap (and this applies to authors of under-researched HT articles and commentators):
Just because Cuba has it’s shortcomings, don’t naively presume that everywhere else in the world is in some way preferable.
There are infinitely more examples of failed capitalist states in this world than there are examples of failed communist states.
Regardless of all imperfect ideologies, independence is important to a nation.
Independence can be extremely hard to achieve but oh so very quick and easy to waste and squander.
Despite its shortcomings, I am glad that Cuba’s independence from Europe and then from the USA has been achieved.
I hope Cuba retains its hard won independence.
I would also hope that Cuba goes up and not down.
Yes, objectivity is good.
And by any objective standard, Poland’s progress and standard of living is dramatically superior to Cuba’s. It may be sad to committed communists, but it is true.
Kudos to the Havana Times for publishing the work of Pedro Morejon. He is a Cuban patriot.
Nick. The Polish people choose that government it was elected by the people. I don’t agree with its policies specially on abortion and LGBT rights but moderates forces have to works to educate the people and win the next election. That is the glory of democracy. Cuba is a nightmare in every single angle people are tired of this horrible system. When I see the Havana today, and the Havana of my life growing up in it it seems like two different places, the elegance, the stores for every pocket, to this aspect of misery and destruction is painful to a Havanera It’s easy to stay in Cuba see the human condition, like monkeys in a Jurassic park and go back to live in Paris, or Montevideo.
Speaking of objectivity, it would be highly appreciate and most definitely objective if Havana Times would mention the sad passing of Juan Carlos Tabìo.
An esteemed Cuban film director who made wonderful Cuban movies which included criticism and satire toward modern day Cuba in a comedic and hilarious fashion.
An obituary and appropriate appreciation of this man would be in order.
From an objective point of view.
I’m all in favour of objectivity.
I would also proscribe to the following:
‘A little knowledge is a dangerous thing’
I find it totally astonishing that Havana Times publishes an article from someone who recommends that Cuba follows in the footsteps of Poland.
This is despite the fact that Poland is ruled by a regime that is more right wing than any Polish regime since the days when it was a fascist state.
This was clearly an article written by someone who has zero knowledge of modern day Poland. For example zero knowledge of the fact that Poland is propped up economically by the EU at least as much as Cuba ever was by the USSR.
Objectivity is good.
Writing an article when one has zero knowledge of the subject is not good.
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