By Osmel Ramirez Alvarez
HAVANA TIMES — It’s dangerous to read Jose Marti on your own in Cuba, without the Marxist “editing” that the Jose Marti Studies Center apply to his writings. Adopting his ethics, his moral and political values, his love for Cuba and his passion for freedom and democracy can bring us great problems with the system.
This because wanting to be useful to your country, wanting to be free and honest in the Marti sense, which is very peculiar, is a dissident act.
“Liberty is every man’s right to be respected and to think and speak without hypocrisy. (…) A man who hides what he thinks or does not dare to say it has no honor. A person who obeys a bad government and does not try to change it is not honest.” This is what he wrote in “The Golden Age”, in “The Three heroes”.
This is Marti’s message to children, so that they grow to be honest and civil so they can then become “citizens”. However, the Cuban Revolution triumphed and radical socialism was instated, where Marti is superfluous or needs to be adapted. Ideas like the above moved on to become the “best” of bourgeois thought, unnecessary and counter-productive in the Communist context.
An independent journalist in Cuba is only making use of his/her right to free speech, of his/her right to be honest. An opponent of the Cuban political system because they consider the government to be bad, is only trying to be honorable by seeking out ways to improve this government. It’s not me saying it, Marti said it himself.
The Apostle himself, which according to Fidel Castro was who motivated him to fight against Batista’s dictatorship, is also motivating those of us today who are fighting to overthrow a Leftist dictatorship which Castro instated instead of the other one, the right-wing dictatorship.
In my articles published on Havana Times and Diario de Cuba, I have never defamed anyone, nor do I make up stories, nor do I analyze reality. Whoever doesn’t stick to their ethics and the truth in this line of work isn’t a journalist but a fake. And how many stories I let painfully slip away because if I told them I would put people in harm’s way and that’s not my objective! Even though some people deserve it…
However, political authorities in Mayari don’t value my ethics, or the interesting debate that is often sparked with my articles. Nor do they thank the fact that I highlight problems which affect our territory, which are solvable if there was political will. On the contrary, they are very uneasy, worried and even ready to stop me from continuing my work by any dirty and illegal means they can find.
They still haven’t arrested me and they haven’t done anything directly to me, I think that is down to the fact that I enjoy social prestige, I have some kind of natural leadership in my community and I keep myself involved with people in every matter, even things that I don’t share myself. Of course, without being a hypocrite, just being respectful and tolerant.
That’s why, in spite of them propagating the idea among revolutionary circles that I am a negative person, or that I am a CIA agent, or that I am a mercenary at the Empire’s service, nobody believes them and they come to tell me what they are saying as if a joke.
State Security has harassed me via my family and several friends and have caused unnecessary suffering to my wife and parents. They threaten that they will arrest me soon. The interview I wrote for Diario de Cuba with Mayari opposition candidate, Confesor Verdecia, caused Verdecia to be arrested himself on Saturday Sept. 9th this month for two hours. In addition to intimidating him so that he would renounce his intentions to nominate himself (that is to say, they urged him to stop being honest and a citizen), they left a message for me with him.
It was the following: according to State Security forces, 15 of my articles constitute a crime and I will be locked up for them. That I only have a few hours left free on the street. They mentioned my articles about the unfair price of tobacco, about problems with cars, about potholes in public roads and so on.
Luckily, it’s been four days already and they still haven’t arrested me. It would be shameful if they did, if I were arrested for being honest, for saying what I think and for trying to improve this bad government, which keeps us poor and stuck in time, stripped of our right to improve it. I would go to jail, no doubt, for following Marti and for letter his ideas forge my character and my values. I would be a prisoner of conscience.
But, I don’t have any other path to walk down but to take the risk. I won’t stop being an honest man for anything in this world, although this might incredibly-enough constitute a serious and punishable crime in revolutionary Cuba, the one which used to promise freedom and progress.