HAVANA TIMES — I’ve heard several people say positive things about Cuba’s new First Vice-Minister Miguel Diaz-Canel. They say that, when he was the Party Secretary for the province of Villa Clara, he would ride around town on a bicycle, in humble sports clothes, just another common, unassuming resident of Matanzas.
People have also said he is a very intelligent and capable person and that he is likely to become Cuba’s future president.
Lately, I have been paying closer attention to what Diaz-Canel does and says. My interest in this is one of the reasons I listened attentively to all of his closing remarks at the national preparatory seminar for the 2013-2014 school year, held two weeks ago.
I will focus on one of the several interesting things that Diaz-Canel said, on his conviction that, “today, with the state of development of information technologies, social networks, computer sciences and the Internet, any attempt to forbid access to information is next to impossible. It makes no sense.
Today, news from all corners of the world, good and bad, news that has been manipulated and news that tells the truth, news that conceals part of the truth, circulates on the Internet and make their way to people everywhere, and people read them.”
The vice-president’s words speak for themselves and require no explanation. I will limit myself to offering my opinion on his statements.
The development of the Internet and social networks has made it impossible to conceal any kind of information, and it is counterproductive for the Cuban media to attempt to hide the truth about such things as cases of government corruption, or the activities of so-called dissidents, who do exist and do organize activities.
If no Cuban living on the island has the courage to write about these or other issues which the Cuban press finds too thorny to address, there will always be someone living abroad or a foreigner residing in Cuba who does, and readers will be more inclined to believe their version of events, at times offering a distorted view of reality that stems from the writer’s profound hatred towards the Cuban government.
There is simply no way of preventing different versions of the same piece of news from reaching the population. When Cubans are interested in getting the story, they resort to alternative media, or find a way to get the information somehow.
Cubans will always manage to find out about those things that the national and provincial media deliberately or cleverly try to avoid, even without an Internet connection or mobile phone applications.
No one can keep a piece of news from reaching every corner of the country any longer. The Cuban press, however, would have the population limit itself to reading the version of events they want to convey or that which is quickly divulged through official blogs and websites.
I’ve always said that it is better for us to report a piece of news, no matter how negative, than to have a foreign journalist, who cannot know as much about our country than us, do so.
I’ve said it once, and Miguel Diaz-Canel is saying it now: there is nothing worse than silence. He gets it, we get it. When will others in the government get it?