By Osmel Ramirez Alvarez
HAVANA TIMES — Up until a few days ago, the vast majority of the Cuban people didn’t know about the sonic attacks that had taken place in our capital. In spite of the serious implications and even grave political consequences this has created and could create for Cuba.
As soon as these events were revealed, global media believed to be important news, it made headlines too. However, official journalists in Cuba ignored it, as if nothing was happening. It’s undoubtedly a revealing example of the Communist Party-controlled media’s hegemonic power, whose censorship voids or mobilizes its reporters, according to its own interests.
I had been commenting on these events to many people I know, who never miss the news on Cubavision or Telesur TV and who read Granma newspaper every day, and they didn’t believe me. As they are still “communists”, they would say to me: “I bet it’s something that’s been invented by the mainstream international press which serves Imperialism to try and defame Cuba.”
After some ambiguous messages in statements and the inexplicit announcement in Granma as a result of the bilateral diplomatic meeting on the 26th, (which assumes that our people know everything already without anyone telling them or that they don’t need to know) some curious people began to ask questions. “What’s this about the US diplomats because I didn’t understand anything in the paper?” is the question that they need to answer now.
Another really interesting detail is that no figures have been given about the number of Cuban citizens who were affected, nor has it been clarified that no Cuban was harmed during these events. If it took them this long to bring up the subject, which they don’t even call by its name or give it the attention it deserves, I wouldn’t be surprised whether in a year or so, they tell us that there was the same number of Cubans, or more, who have been affected as a result.
The foreign media has told the rest of the world that the people affected were: “more than 30 diplomats and their families”, that “20 diplomats were from the US and 4 were Canadian”, that “there have been more than 50 attacks in total, some repeated against the same people,” which “include children, allegedly the children of these diplomats.” A lot of information has been leaked that echoes this, but the official number recognized by the US continues to be 21.
Hasn’t anyone thought to ask themselves whether any Cuban citizens have suffered the effects of these attacks even if it was just because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time? It could have been a waiter in a restaurant or bar, while they were leading the diplomat in question to their table. Or maybe even a passer-by.
We’ve been told that some of these incidents took place in homes and it’s also a fact that these foreign families hire Cuban domestic workers. And because nothing is known about the source of the emissions, a lot more people could have hypothetically been affected.
There must be some stats, but the same thing is happening with the news of this event: no journalist will investigate or publish these without the Government giving them the order to do so. Independent media could do it, but their access would never be facilitated to these statistics, which the State manages under tight controls.
There is also the possibility (which I believe to be remote) that no Cuban citizen was affected. If the people to blame for these abhorrent events were so exact in their actions, then there wouldn’t be cases of children being affected. Plus, Cuban authorities would have already clarified that no Cuban had been affected.
This line of reasoning therefore only reveals the utter lack of respect that our Government has for its own people. They feel forced to account for their actions to the entire world, but not to their citizens, which are the Cuban people theoretically-speaking. They manage national affairs behind our backs like grown-ups do with children.
Our people are like a child to them, who can’t really vote, or decide, or deal with more serious issues. They are our “guardians”, who decide how and when we are told things and which part of the story we can listen to.
Here, nobody knows that the FBI was given authorization to come to Cuba to investigate (something unprecedented) and that they didn’t find anything. That our Government is obliged to protect foreign diplomatic missions in line with the Vienna Convention and that’s why it got stuck into investigating the problem, but they didn’t find anything either. And that the two Cuban diplomats expelled from our Embassy in Washington in May, was a form of protest against these events.
We know that media access and our rights to information in Cuba will only change once we gain a democracy and rule of law. But, the answer to the question about whether there were any Cubans who were affected by these attacks or not, will only be known if we demand and urge the Government to talk about it.
At this point in time, global media and even Cuba’s alternative media have only focused on the foreigners who were affected. The absence of a government report doesn’t necessarily mean that they don’t exist. I think it’s an important question to ask.