Official Journalism in Cuba: Empty Nutshells

By Vicente Morin Aguado

PIzzas. Photo: Juan Suarez

HAVANA TIMES — On February 7th, the Cuban Communist Party’s (PCC) press published several articles about the reporting behavior of young people belonging to the government’s journalism sector. Before that, on January 20th, a comment made by Yeilen Delgado Calvo in Juventud Rebelde under the heading “I declare myself a dissident” caught a lot of attention. It’s clear why the aged leadership is concerned with the behavior of their inevitable successors.

Basically, the cited journalist is referring to a friend, annoyed because after criticizing problems which were never specified in a direct and clear manner, he was called a dissident. His response, always using the same lingo and characteristic allegories of the Cuban “communist” press, can be summarized as the following:

“I know he is a dissident of many things: of wrong-doings, sloppiness, conformity, people who talk a lot about the Homeland but don’t hold this within their hearts.”

“The question isn’t about being a dissident, but in what being a dissident means.”

“We have let ourselves get carried away with the word “dissident” by those who know very little about principles and patriotism. A dissident is somebody who dissents, to dissent is to separate yourself from the mainstream doctrine, belief or behavior.”

“I am a dissident of stagnation, of demagogy, of complacent people, as well as of hypocrites, of those who hide information, of empty speeches, of a lack of effort, of scarce commitment, of inertia…”

What do you make of that sentence? It’s hard not to be in favor of this in theory, but as Marx and Lenin hammered home hard, the issue has to be resolved in practice, the criterion of truth.

That’s why Jesus Arencibia Lorenzo’s review about an intervention made before February 7th, where renowned reporters from Latin America’s left-wing press attended, Stella Calloni and Alberto Salcedo Ramos, was surprising. The former was an Argentinian, too closely linked to the Cuban government to say anything interesting. That wasn’t the case with the Colombian though who ended up moving away from what Yeilen labeled “common doctrine, belief or behavior”, talking about his and our country.”

Among other things, repeated by Arencibia Lorenzo in Juventud Rebelde on February 7th, Salcedo said:

“I’m a journalist because I like to listen and tell stories. Because I like to know what is going on beyond my nose. Because it’s extremely hard for me to keep quiet. Because I like to leave memories behind, a testimony which can help us understand what we’re like, where we come from, why we are the way we are.”

“I believe that this profession has been wasting a lot of time trying to make affirmations. It’s always seemed very suspicious to me that philosophers doubt and journalists affirm.”

“I like journalists who go out looking for the truth, but I don’t trust those who believe they have found it.”

“It’s about writing stories, chronicles, articles, to place the news within a context, within a reason of why it’s happening, that goes beyond the basic facts.”

Dealing with the country’s current reality, it can be concluded: no philosophical truths which have been placed in doubt for some time now, zero phrasing and a lot of concrete, raw reality, just like we are living it.

The Colombian journalist, used to risking his life in an extreme country, ended by saying: “And I believe that no tricks, from any ideology, are good.”

It seems that there is a call for dissidence within the PCC press, but those who really practice this aren’t rubbing their hands together just yet because in Cuba, from time to time, a lot of noise is made but that’s all it is, noise.

It is simply needed to cool the pressure cooker because real dissidents within the world of Cuban information are increasing everyday, including irreverent young people who are working for government media, some of whom are made an example of and punished for their daring behavior.

For now, signing off this present article, I will also take what was written in Juventud Rebelde as my own: I also declare myself a dissident.

Vicente Morin Aguado: [email protected]