One More Cheer for Neighborhood Journalism

Rogelio Manuel Diaz Moreno

The team of Periodismo de barrio (Neighborhood journalism).
The team of Periodismo de barrio (Neighborhood journalism).

HAVANA TIMES — The Periodismo de Barrio (Neighborhood Journalism) is a flower resting on the mire that is Cuban journalism today. If Jehovah didn’t forgive Sodom because he couldn’t find enough reasons to do so, he would forgive the Cuban media on coming face to face with this beautiful, brave and marvellous group.

Elaine, Julio, Geysi, Monica, I love all of your articles and their humanism, their sensitivity. Thanks to all of you, I am able to get closer to human beings and other realities in my country, which lay just a few steps away from my daily universe, which I didn’t know about. I laugh and am struck by the wit of an organic farmer; I find out that Francisca escaped from Onelio Jorge Cardoso’s story; I go over the pros and cons of GMO foods; I appreciate one of the jams that our government suffers caused by the US blockade in the purchase of foods and I sympathize with a neighbor who has resisted the assaults of the sea and Cuban bureaucracy.

For such beautiful work, we already know that they will end up receiving an awful quota of whiplashes. They commit the sin of living out all of their fancies, without anyone putting restrictions on their liberty or the service they provide us with their work.

We recently had some dreadful days; especially those living in Cuba’s far-east.  A terrible hurricane that showed no mercy on the region. And you went where I wanted to be right now, because that’s how we are in this country: we go where people most need help, comfort and love.

Suspicions and misunderstandings, the authoritarianism and bureaucracy that have always existed here are putting hurdles up in the route to recovery. Luckily, we aren’t in those long-suffering sister lands in Latin America, Russia or anywhere else, where journalists who end up in the hands of national security forces and paramilitaries, entrust their souls, physical integrity and even their lives to any deity that can protect them. Nevertheless, the fact that here they are detained, questioned, ruffled up by fellow countrymen who are unable to understand them, is still painful.

Envy and wretchedness from the neighboring marsh are not long in coming. Superior levels of power give the order and the submissive spit against a light that blinds them. Your voice isn’t welcome among the Guardians of the Faith.

The country’s official media is full of cruel accusations. They’re told off for coming after the worst has happened; that they weren’t there to see the eye of the monster. They say that no more national journalists except for those designated by the government are needed. And that we already have foreign journalists as extras.

These kinds of accusations only reveal the smallness of the herald’s heart that transmits them. Authorized national government and international media have all the means, accomodation and support they need in order to ensure their safety, as the same Granma reporter carefully details. Going anywhere near the hurricane, without these conditions, would only put the lives of those who risk such great imprudence at risk, and probably that of others too.

Most people in Maisi were left without a roof over their heads. Foto: Reynaldo de la O.
Most people in Maisi were left without a roof over their heads. Foto: Reynaldo de la O.

National – government – media will now give the same face we already know all too well. People, victims really, who only seem to feel the need to shout out hurrah and hurray! Foreign media, which is praised so much by the colonized Granma journalist, reported some paragraphs of brief significance and then they went after the next news story. On the other hand, we can also wait for the other group, news coverage with a contrary bias: those who will seek to prosper in disgrace and suffering like vultures on carrion, to show this country like hell on earth again; because this gives them some kind of dividend.

That’s why, those of you who really write journalism, Neighborhood Journalism, have already been a fundamental part of what has happened there. What they’ve managed to do up until now, no matter how small it might seem to them, has the greatest value. Because they’ve tried to put us in contact with these people in an intimate fashion, because they’ve tried to communicate the sensitivity, the tremor, the pain and the hope that can all be found here. Because thanks to you we have learned just how many tears were spilled by those who watched everything a long life of hard sacrifices had achieved fly away before them, like their character, the solidarity of these same people.

The sensation that the world had been turned upside down and the resilience of those who go out to replant fallen trees, share some fish with a neighbor or lend a hand to help other people more in need. The strength of the people trying to recover basic services and schools, of cooks and doctors, who are now committed to providing relief in the aftermath of this disaster.

You can keep your heads held high, once again. The values of our youth and of Cuban journalism have been honored yet again. Heartfelt approaches have been encouraged again and will also be encouraged in the future. I am honored to support you. You haven’t been silenced, and nobody can silence you.