The Cuban Journalism Scandal

By Vicente Morin Aguado

Cuban journalism. Photo:

HAVANA TIMES — Young people from Villa Clara have just put up their complaints on the universal church that is the Internet: “We use our legitimate right to write and voice our opinions through official media channels as well as on emerging digital platforms. And, in spite of what some people may think, there is no contradiction in us working for the government’s media and collaborating with alternative and/or private media outlets.”

This movement is reminiscent of when Luther nailed his 95 theses to the door of Wittenberg Castle Church, five centuries ago. The fledgling printing press spread that protest against the corruption of the Pope’s power which seemed unquestionable at the time, more so, because the flaming torch of the Inquisition was also raised high. Pope Leo X’s immediate response went down in the history books: “The Theses were written by a drunken German, who when sober will change his mind.”

Iglesia (Church), which derives from the Greek word ekklesia, and then the latin ecclesia, originally means assembly or congregation. Martin Luther changed the history of Western Europe. According to the ruling political regime in Cuba, there is a contradiction between working for official government media while collaborating with alternative media outlets which aren’t controlled by the Cuban Communist Party.

The post-Marxism Communists in power use the ghost of never-ending conspiracy in the face of any danger that forces them to use their repressive forces which would obviously be considered unjustifiable outside of the walls they’ve built. However, a suspicious counterpart has finally raised its head, preparing the way, in the voice of Karina Marron, Granma daily’s young assistant editor.

“Ladies and gentlemen, this country won’t stand for another 93, or 94. If we don’t want to see protests out on the street and we don’t have a Fidel to go out to the Malecon- at least up until now there hasn’t been a single public figure in this country to stand up to the people and tell them what’s going on-, today, with the situation we have, we’re going to get what we deserve.”

The translation of this statement is fear, the road has been cleared for these daring “Luthers” of Cuban journalism. These are the members of a committee of the Cuban Young Communists League (UJC) from the Vanguardia newspaper in Villa Clara province. The document signed by Javier Simoni Delgado warns:

“Our work has unleashed a preventative witch hunt against us. We aren’t afraid of denouncing today that agents that have nothing to do with journalism are investigating us at our workplaces and the CDR (neighborhood watch committees); they follow our every step and they call us in to tell them about any controversial comments or articles we post. We are not a threat to the security of the Cuban State and this should be made explicitly clear.”

Photo: Robert Hills

My experience is that any “free thinker”, that’s to say, people who fall out of the party-State control, is a problem in the eyes of the upper apparatus who in fact rule the country. They are an important problem because they deal with national public opinion, the sacred monopoly that unfortunately for these higher ups, is falling apart as the physics of Nature are pushing for democracy, which also includes modern means of communication.

The Internet has now become that printing press that helped this great German reformer 500 years ago. Repressive measures will reflect our times, without stopping in their endeavor to silence protests. I hope that these young Communists from Villa Clara are not naive; they are participating in a privileged discussion that has been denied to reporters who come from these alternative media channels. It’s important to highlight this fundamental point in the debate.

In Cuba, only journalists who are recognized as working for the government have the right to show up somewhere, ask for information and take photos. In short, to freely practice this profession you have to work for the State. However, such a privilege also comes with duties that the ruling curia watches with a critical eye. Boldness will never be forgiven, even though the root causes seem to have been covered by the contradictory message made by the aforementioned Granma assistant editor.

“When young journalists leave the profession, it’s because they are reflecting current social thoughts. We can’t simply consider the problem to be wholly economic, there is a problem lying deep at the heart of journalism, because these young people who chose a career in journalism didn’t choose to make propaganda, nor publicity, they didn’t choose to sit with their mouths shut and on the sidelines, because if they had, then they would have chosen another career…”

The event will be forgotten because there are more pressing issues relating to the oil we get from Venezuela, better yet, from Nicolas, who has dug himself a grave with his government’s incompetence, which he inherited from Chavez in true dictatorial fashion, as Nicolas was chosen as Chavez’s successor not because he was the best man for the job but because he was the most loyal.

We Cubans never end up getting out from under our shells of impotence; we’re always on the lookout for our next savior, victims of the ups and downs of other histories: the disappeared USSR, if Clinton becomes president after Obama, Maduro’s downfall or the never-ending Putin-Medvedev relationship. Hell! if it was necessary it could even be the Islamic Caliphate in decline, accompanied by the power outside the shadow of any Iranian Ayatola.

There’s room for other comments on the subject. Remembering Luther, the essence is in the Cross.

Vicente Morin Aguado: [email protected].