“El periódico ha de estar siempre como los correos antiguos, con el caballo enjaezado, la fusta en la mano y la espuela en el tacón.  Debe desobedecer los apetitos del bien personal y atender imparcialmente al bien público”.
José Martí

Cuba: When “Winning” is Losing

1ro-de-Mayo. Foto: Raquel Pérez Díaz

Photo: Raquel Pérez Díaz

The violent reaction to the dissident who ran through Revolution Square carrying a US flag on May Day has been the last of a series of failed responses.

The guy was beaten up and arrested in the middle of Revolution Square, during the rally for May Day in front of journalists.

Photographs and videos of the scene have traveled the world over and this was clearly the opponent’s objective. He “stole the show” thanks to the priceless help he received from those people who jumped on top of him, grabbing the flag from him and hitting him in front of rolling cameras which belong to the world’s main press agencies.

What would have happened if nobody had got in his way during his speedy race through the Square? It would have surely not been much more than an anecdote, which would have supported government discourse when it accuses dissidents of being mercenaries who serve the star-spangled banner.

La expulsión de la Universidad de Las Villas de la joven Karla María Pérez, por pertenecer a un grupo disidente, fue uno de los hechos que más dañó la imagen de Cuba.

The expulsion of Karla Maria Perez from her university in Villa Clara for belonging to a dissident group caused a lot of harm to Cuba’s image.

Not too long before this event, a young journalism student was kicked out of the university in Villa Clara, with the official media arguing that “university is only for revolutionaries.” Her photo went around the world and stirred people’s rejection, even from well-known followers of the Cuban Revolution.

If the CIA’s psychological warfare team had to have chosen a case, they couldn’t have done a better job. She was an 18-year-old girl, with the face of an angel, who was expelled from a Cuban university because she didn’t share the government’s ideas, “the perfect victim”.

The University of Havana doesn’t fall far behind either. Two Economy and Law professors were dismissed from their jobs for such a malicious deed as writing for a [non-governmental] media outlet which is legal and has offices in a building on the Malecon.

Today, Omar Everleny Perez, PhD, continues to live in Cuba but he travels all over the world, from Japan to the US, pouring out his economic knowledge in classrooms of different universities, none of which are Cuban. Who won and lost with this expulsion?

Lawyer Julio Fernandez was forced to choose between continuing to express his thoughts publicly or to renounce this civil right so that he could remain a professor at the university. Today, he continues to write for OnCuba but he no longer teaches at the University.

After the hurricane that hit Baracoa, a group of young Cuban journalists carried out a public fundraiser and traveled to the region to report on the natural disaster. The government’s response was to arrest them, thereby converting an insignificant event into international news.

The Periodismo de Barrio journalists were released without the authorities filing any charges against them. So, why were they arrested? If they couldn’t go into the area, wouldn’t it have been enough to just have stopped them from getting there? Does anybody believe that this scandal helps Cuba in any way?

Permitir la existencia en Cuba de espacios digitales no oficiales y castigar a los jóvenes que trabajan en ellos, muestra una bipolaridad política difícil de entender.

Allowing the existence in Cuba of unofficial digital publications and punishing the young people who work for them is contradictory and hard to understand.

I recently received a threat that they would break my teeth if I didn’t start “talking softly”. The threat was published by a government journalist. Is there nobody capable of assessing the damage that such cockiness does to the image of Cuba?

In Holguin, another scandal made headlines when a colleague, Jose Ramirez Pantoja, got axed from the Cuban Journalists Association (UPEC) and fired from his job at a local radio station because he reproduced, on his personal blog, part of a speech the assistant director of the official Granma newspaper gave at a professional event.

Pressure on young journalists in Villa Clara who collaborate with digital media platforms (non-governmental) led them to write a public letter of protest, which has also traveled across the globe. Despite the cost, these policies remain steadfast.

Extremist blogs, financed by the State, repeat over and over again, that whoever isn’t a revolutionary is a counter-revolutionary, that is to say that whoever isn’t with “them” is their enemy, an opinion which pushes towards a dangerous social polarization.

These are the same people who are promoting blind unanimity, a caricature of the true conscious union between human beings. Unity upheld in diversity is the only glue that can keep the mosaic of a nation in place.

In 275 BC, General Pyrrhus of Epirus had already understood that some battles inflict such a devastating toll on the victor that it is tantamount to defeat. These “Pyrrhic victories” of the most extremist sectors could lead Cuba down this same route.

infografia sobre diversidad social

Translation: Havana Times

About Fernando Ravsberg

Nacido en Uruguay, corresponsal de Público en Cuba y profesor del post grado de “Información internacional y países del Sur” de la Universidad Complutense de Madrid. Fue periodista de BBC Mundo, Telemundo de EEUU, Radio Nacional de Suecia y TV Azteca de México. Autor de 3 libros, El Rompecabezas Cubano, Reportajes de Guerra y Retratos.


3 thoughts on “Cuba: When “Winning” is Losing

  1. Estimado Ravsberg, estoy de acuerdo con usted en cuanto a que las medidas que han tomado los funcionarios e instituciones son contraproducente para la imagen de la “revolución cubana”. Estas medidas demuestran lo vulnerables que se sienten los que ostentan el poder, demuestran que le tienen miedo a una persona o a un grupo de personas que piensan diferentes, demuestran intolerancia y discriminación ideológica. Yo fui profesor de Inmunología durante 10 años en la Universidad de la Habana de forma gratuita, también fui investigador de cáncer durante 12 años en el INOR y me expulsaron en junio 2016 por ser amigo de Ciro Javier Diaz Penedo, un artista crítico al gobierno.

  2. La Revolución cubana no se guía por la “imagen”. Se guía por defender sus principios. Pero ni somos ingenuos ni tontos.

  3. They are afraid of losing power. But I must say that those episodes are not new, but with internet news run faster and there is less chance for censorship.

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