HAVANA TIMES — For people like me who enjoy writing, we also like it when others read our work. But this isn’t enough. What’s written must reach the receptive ears of those who, in addition to reading it, have the social responsibility of retransmitting what they’ve read. Undoubtedly, these are our mass media, our national press in particular.
In a recent article, “Some Challenges Facing Cuba’s Press,” I wrote about how useful it would be if our press felt allied with the many revolutionary intellectuals in Cuba who write, those who — while upholding their responsibilities — are also critical when it come to the multiple issues facing us as a people.
We know it isn’t easy for our press — accustomed to writing only about what they’re allowed — to use sources that make critical analyses, such as those reflected in many articles circulating on the Internet.
They would need more than a little courage to defend such articles before their censures. Notwithstanding, the revolutionary consciousness of each of them would remain at peace and intact in doing so. This is because our journalists are pro-revolution, and in presenting these critiques they would be fulfilling their duty, which isn’t simply publishing what they’re authorized to print.
We’re not asking them to be irresponsible or to ignore the management of whatever newspaper in question; rather, they simply need to be a little more of themselves. They need to demand that they themselves act as the press and not the bureaucracy that currently controls them.
As Jorge Gomez Barata expressed so well, “The problem is not the journalists, but the structure.” I would add that there is a lack of a model for the press, given that the one presently being followed no longer corresponds to the times in which we live – and much less to the requirements of the ideological battle being waged today through the media worldwide.
Although the national press refuses to publish our work, which is only reflected on the Internet, I think we should still send all of the writings to the national press. I say this because things can change in our country and we mustn’t give anyone the opportunity to say that we never came up with proposals and alternatives.
Therefore we are declaring the need for an offensive with the national and provincial press: We need to send them articles. We need to do this tirelessly, regardless if we don’t think they’re going to be published. We need to send those articles until they’re overwhelmed, until one day they become convinced that the journalism they practice can be improved if they take us into account.
This is because our press is unquestionably losing the battle with unofficial journalism, which better reflects reality and does so in a manner that’s more attractive, respectful of reality and doesn’t make concessions to dogmatism, apology or bureaucratic control.
Our press is satisfied with putting information on the table for a people who for more than 50 years have advanced tremendously, acquiring levels of education and culture that make them distinctly dissatisfied with what they receive from our current press, radio and television.
What is clearly being seen is the displacement that is increasingly occurring in the areas of video production, the Internet, and foreign radio broadcasts, a consequence of our poor television production and programming.
Observing our television programming we are able to perceive the abysmal imbalance between what is received from external sources (including US television) and our poor domestic production.
At the same time, we must not stop asking our press why it doesn’t publish articles about certain things. In a direct manner, we need to grill them about this so that they feel guilty when people are waiting for and expecting information while those news professionals remain silent.
They need to feel tormented by the fact that people buy newspapers but usually do so only by inertia, because day after day they won’t find anything of interest in them.
What ever happened to the underwater cable from Venezuela that they promised would so greatly improve our internet situation? Why are they taking so long without reporting on the corruption trials?
How is it that our foreign minister gave an interview on the issue of relations with the Cuban émigrés and our press didn’t publish anything?
Why do we have to follow the corruption case surrounding Chilean entrepreneur Max Marambio in the foreign press?
Why hasn’t there been any information about what happened to the deputy from Las Tunas who was protesting cuts in education?
Why did they publish such a ridiculous article recently reporting that there was cholera in Cuba?
In fact, when I wrote my first article about corruption (“Corruption: The True Counterrevolution?,” in April 2010), I had an astounding experience. It allowed me to completely understand that if we want to continue being revolutionary during this turbulent stage of our country, “we need to fight our own war, fight our own battles and take the risk that they will come down on us.”
Otherwise we can stay at home every day, or hide under the bed for even more security.
It wasn’t easy. There were stupid statements made — and not just any old stupidities —accusing me of “throwing something into the ring that the party wanted to keep secret” and said that I had “wrote something that wasn’t consistent with the status of a party member” or that I had “taken a dump” on the party with what I wrote.
Some people said I was “giving arms to the enemy for them to attack the revolution.” This went on to the point of word spreading that the author had turned into a dissident. Some even were worried that I could fill the gap in the lack of leadership to internal dissent.
Fortunately, into this debate stepped the general/president, who was already talking about those same issues and had previously said that “corruption is equivalent to counterrevolution.” More recently, our national comptroller said, “Corruption is one of the most dangerous forms of counterrevolution.”
Where are all those not-so-sharp individuals sticking their faces now? …those who were most interested in not asking for trouble so as to help save the country from an issue affecting its national security?
Therefore there’s nothing to fear. What we need to be convinced of is whether or not we are contributing to the revolution, and that we are not alone in those battles.
The problem is that when our media doesn’t report on what is happening domestically, the people remain ignorant as to what’s occurring in their own country. What’s more, those supporters of the revolution (whether intellectuals or not) who want to defend the revolution find themselves at a disadvantage in the face of those who attack the revolution, as they’re left looking like true “fools” due to their lack of information.
As far as we know, (if it’s not pure demagoguery, and I’m confident that it isn’t) the media in Cuba is not anyone’s private property.
(*) Visit Esteban Morales’s blog (in Spanish).