HAVANA TIMES – Arnaldo Mirabal announced on social networks that he is quitting journalism. He does so a few days after being threatened with being taken to court for writing about a case of alleged corruption of a political leader in the province of Matanzas.
The provincial authorities throw a blanket of silence over this case. They don’t clarify why that person was removed as the head of the city’s government or why she now holds another position of responsibility. Instead, they confirm the theory of ordinary Cubans about managers and leaders, who they say defy gravity and fall upwards.
Granma newspaper’s deputy director, Karina Marrón, said on Facebook that “Arnaldo and the people of Matanzas have the right to know what happened, whether there was corruption or not, or whatever the reasons were for this person no longer holding the position people chose her for.”
After a year of requesting information about the removal of Marta Odalys, carried out in secret by the authorities of Matanzas, the response obtained by journalist Arnaldo Mirabal is a little veiled threat, “you have no evidence and Marta Odalys can sue you for defamation.”
This is not the first time that the corrupt are protected by persecuting the messenger who dares to reveal the truth. Professor Esteban Morales was separated from the Communist Party for the same reason, he requested information about leaders being deposed without explanation.
Morales was allowed back into the Party after appealing his removal at all the channels within his reach and with the support of alternative media and academia. However, they then limited his participation in the national media, despite being a highly respected specialist in Cuba-US relations.
Recently, Harold Cardenas, a founder of the jovencuba blog, announced that he was leaving Cuba to study at Columbia University in the USA. He was one of the main targets of extremists, who now revel with articles saying that this young intellectual is a “political corpse.”
In his farewell, Harold shows us some of his fears: “When there is more fear than money, more sleeplessness than solutions, Cuba contracts and the excesses begin. It was not difficult to imagine who would be the collateral damage and I applied to several universities abroad. ”
In addition to these cases of intimidation, is the prohibition of journalists working with a government media also contributing with an alternative media; the letter of protest from the young journalists of Villa Clara, and the dismissal in Holguin of journalist Jose Ramirez Pantoja for publishing on his blog the words of the deputy director of Granma, the official organ of the Communist Party.
And intolerance is increasing; even Second Cita, the blog of singer/songwriter Silvio Rodriguez was targeted by extremist groups. They try to get Silvio to stop publishing the opinions of intellectuals silenced by the official press, even though some of them are recognized revolutionaries and Marxists.
These are desperate attempts to keep control over what is published, but in the long run such is a futile effort. The advance of the Internet is unstoppable and opens to Cubans the widest international information spectrum, from the New Herald to Rebellion.
But the Defenders of the Faith continue winning Pyrrhic battles, the same ones that the Nation loses. Cuba loses when its young people emigrate; when the supposed Defenders kill their hope of building a better world, when they are threatened to be silent in the face of corruption.
Something is not right in a society when corrupt politicians “move on to occupy new posts” and journalists are punished for denouncing them. Silence about white-collar crime is a path already transited by other Latin American countries, and it is easy to see where it leads us.
Censors, who always justify themselves by saying that their job is to “defend the revolution by not giving weapons to the enemy,” now, paradoxically, seem to be defending corruption and robbing the people of the main weapon to combat it, transparency.
And now, what will those censors do with Arnaldo Mirabal?, accuse him of being a counterrevolutionary ?, expel him from the Communist Party like Esteban Morales ?, take away his Internet access to annul his blog? or will they try to discredit him with suitably inflated trivia?
I think of Arnaldo and remember the words of Fidel Castro early on in the Revolution: “We were married to the lie and it forced us to live with it. That is why when we hear the truth it seems to us that the world is sinking.”