Cuban Television: the Truth Hurts, But It Also Heals

Rosa Martinez

Office. Foto: Juan Suarez
Office. Foto: Juan Suarez

HAVANA TIMES — I have occasionally – perhaps too often – complained about my country’s media. It angers me that the Cuban press is frequently boring, simplistic and not as critical as we want it to be. One thing I am happy about, though, is that it isn’t sensationalist.

If it were, newspapers and other media in Guantanamo today would run such headlines as “Domestic Violence Gains New Ground in Guantanamo”, or something along those lines. Though the press should address all issues, from economic difficulties to the most insignificant achievements in the county, I think a gutter press would serve to distance us from what we truly want for Cuba.

My aim with this post, however, is not to again criticize my friends the journalists. On the contrary, today I will write about a clever program aired every week during the Cuban television’s evening news.

Cuba dice (“Cuba Says”) is, in my opinion, the closest thing to the critical and timely investigative journalism we dearly need that we’ve ever had.

Many await the program at home to see what new problem the host, Talia Gonzalez, will set her sights on, problems which are nothing other than the daily frustrations of Joe, Mary and Harry, that is, of all common Cubans.

The program came into existence following a congress of the Cuban Journalists Association which did not meet most of the expectations of the journalism sector (and much less those of the population) and at a crucial moment in the country’s social transformation process.

The news.
The news.

The young journalist who hosts the program incisively interviews different sectors of the population (always those directly affected by a specific problem) and the company managers and government officials involved in the matter, always reflecting the truth about Cuba, that Cuba many claim to love and defend but fear exposing to criticism.

Some readers will surely ask: “Why is Talia Gonzalez the only journalist doing this kind of work?” Others, like my younger brother, will likely say: “It’s not worth much, because, in the end, the problems are still there.” They may all be right.

For my part, I prefer to see Cuba dice as a true portrayal of contemporary Cuba, of the daily problems that affect common people so much and which have nothing to do with the 50-year-old US blockade or the world economic crisis and everything to do with ineptness, red tape and administrative corruption.

One section of the evening news and the work of a single journalist does not of course suffice to bring about the Cuba we all dream of, a Cuba with greater freedoms, less repression for those who think differently and broader citizen participation in decision-making processes, but they do point towards the path to follow. We must criticize our reality objectively in order to improve the social project that most of us defend.

Cuba dice, Cuba says, but it also needs to do. That’s the plain truth, which always hurts, but also heals.