Typical Havana scene. Photo: Juan Suarez
Typical Havana scene. Photo: Juan Suarez

Janis Hernandez

HAVANA TIMES — Cuba dice (“Cuba Says”) is a segment of Cuba’s national news broadcast that has been on the air for some time now.

The segment consists of journalistic reports that cover problems or difficulties Cubans face on a daily basis, from the purchase or acquisition of building materials to public transportation and other issues.

These reports cast a critical glance at these realities through interviews with the individuals affected and the government officials responsible for them, who are called on to account for the problems discussed.

It’s true we’ve needed a segment like this on television for a long time, but I think it’s still not enough. It’s not enough to see Thalia Gonzalez (who often hosts the segment) rub salt on the wounds and tell us what we already know too well.

What we need to do is cure the wound once and for all. The only thing these types of programs do is afford us a space for catharsis and give people the semblance of a critical, free and opinionated journalism. It’s also a forum where we hear government representatives give the same answers again and again.

Their answers are always along the lines of: “we acknowledge we have these problems” and “we can assure the public we’re working to find a solution as quickly as we can.”

On the other hand, people’s comments are often rather shy. They’re mere complaints, examples drawn from their personal experiences, an anecdote where we find out they’ve being trying to get their hands on building materials for over five months and the shipments haven’t arrived, or that, once they’ve arrived, it turns out there’s not enough for everyone.

We never see anyone who’s truly angry, as we see in real life. We Cubans aren’t like that. I imagine that, in front of the TV cameras, most people are afraid to be too severe in their criticisms or to call things by their name, without beating around the bush.

Some even act as apologists and say things like “yeah, it’s true, there are delays, there are problems, but the service is good anyways.” In other words, they make excuses. We know that isn’t the case, that we’ve had very serious problems for a long time, and that this is in part because people have become accustomed to them, as though they were normal.

Time passes and few are the things that actually change. However, we’ve got a nice little TV program where we can complain, so that it looks as though Cuba is saying something. The question is: who’s answering and is it enough?

Janis Hernández

Janis Hernandez: I don’t seek to change the world, much less give recipes on how it should or shouldn’t be. I don’t have the gift of oratory or that of the letters. I’m not an analyst or a philosopher. I am just an observer of the things that happen around me and I feel obligated to speak about my country without a muzzle, just write and that’s what I do in my diary.

8 thoughts on ““Cuba Says” But No One Answers

  • A cursory glance at Cuban history would suggest otherwise. What about the Mambises or the Black uprising in 1912 suppressed by the US. Also the student and trade union movements in later periods.

  • Really? Cuba was among the last of the Latin American Spanish colonies to achieve independence and arguably only after US help. Resistance against prior dictators was largely fueled by the efforts of even worse tyrants. The truth is that the Cuban people have not history of grass-roots uprisings like we have witnessed elsewhere in Latin America.

  • On your final point, I can agree. It is very possible that those people who might have otherwise taken to the streets in protest simply decide to take the path of less resistance and leave. Given the declining and aging population, that implies a residual population of Cubans who have remained as either supportive of the failed regime or, while frustrated, unable to migrate.

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