“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

Journalists in Cuba, Bad News and Firings

¿Son los periodistas los mensajeros que hay que matar?

The campaign against [my website] Cartas desde Cuba is becoming a bit too extreme. The vice-president of the Cuban Journalists Association (UPEC), Aixa Hevia, proposes, in not a very subtle way, that the Cuban government throw me out of the country because my journalism makes “decent” Cuban citizens feel uncomfortable.

“It seems that the course this Uruguayan “professional” has taken has begun to make decent people feel uncomfortable (…) when calls begin to appear on digital platforms calling for expelling somebody from the country who is constantly changing colors like a chameleon,” she says.

Aixa will go down in history as being the only leader of a journalists’ association, in the world, who asks the authorities to deport a colleague. She wants to silence Cartas desde Cuba, which she does in vain because we would continue to inform people from outside Cuba anyway.

On the blog of Silvio Rodriguez, Doris comments that “once again Ravsberg becomes the messenger who you have to shoot for bringing bad news. Forgive me my dear journalists, but the problem isn’t Ravsberg. The problem is that we haven’t been able to resolve the problems our media has.”

Hevia also attacks Jose Ramirez Pantoja’s integrity, my colleague who was fired from Radio Holguin. Without a single argument to back her up she asks, “Is this how Pantoja has decided to look for a record which would then allow him to cross over to work for the media in Miami? What an ugly way to go, if this is the case.”

Aixa Hevia pasará a la historia por ser la única dirigente de una asociación de periodistas en el mundo que pide a las autoridades la expulsión de un colega

Aixa will go down in history as being the only leader of a journalists’ association, in the world, who asks the authorities to deport a colleague.

However, what is really ugly is accusing a person without any proof and what’s twice as ugly is the fact that this comes from UPEC’s vice-president, an association which should defend journalists’ rights. “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it,” Joseph Goebbels once said and he proposed “making the enemy one”, in this case, nothing better than to link it with Miami.

The problems in Cuban media are profound and deeply-rooted, so much so that Che warned us about them half a century ago. The singer-songwriter Vicente Feliu has just published some ideas about the Argentinian-Cuban Comandante, where he recommended that we stop “hiding away our mistakes so others can’t see them. This wouldn’t be honest or revolutionary.”

In the book entitled “Socialism and the New Man”, the legendary guerrilla fighter warned us about the creation of a parasitic media belonging to the government. “We shouldn’t create docile workers who obey the official political ideology, nor interns who live under the protection of their government budgeted salary, exercising their “freedom”, so to speak,” he said.

In 1989, General Raul Castro asked journalists to exercize a critical role. At the closing ceremony of the 4th UPEC congress, “Raul, without using a microphone, pressed those present, in a stimulating tone: “journalists write your critical opinions, the Party will support you.”

In order to get me kicked out of Cuba, they could try and accuse of being a mercenary, but I don’t receive any money on top of my salary. I keep Cartas desde Cuba running with my own income and savings, nobody else gives me a single cent, not on or off the island.

El Che Guevara en los años 60 advertía a los periodistas para que no fuéramos asalariados dóciles al pensamiento oficial

Che Guevara warned journalists in the ‘60s not to become docile workers who obey the official political ideology.

They can’t claim that I work for “the perverse media multinationals” because I left the BBC over two years ago and since then I write for the Spanish newspaper “Publico.es”, which by the way has a plural editorial policy but leans to the Left.

Unable to accuse me of being a mercenary or a sell-out the disciplinary action becomes hard to enact, but Aida fixes that one easily, she’s asking for me to be kicked out because she doesn’t understand me: “I don’t understand the former BBC correspondent’s real intention with so many inaccuracies and hidden agendas.”

Why does she have to attack Fernando Ravsberg if the real problem we should be debating is what disciplinary action can be used against a Cuban journalist? [Referring to Jose Ramirez’ Pantoja]. Joesph Goebbels gives us the answer once again when he suggests that “if you can’t deny the bad news, make up other ones to distract people.”

I don’t believe this is a personal issue; extremists have been trying to prevent this new journalism from developing and growing, even within the government’s own media outlets. In addition to Jose, I know three other journalists who have been fired recently.

They blocked La Joven Cuba, accused OnCuba and Progreso Semanal as doing “the enemy’s work” and attack blogs written by national and international journalists, removing them from local platforms, leaving them unemployed or asking the authorities to kick them out of the country.

They’re afraid because we continue to develop a different kind of journalism, a responsible, serious, real, timely, attractive, critical and complementary kind of journalism, all at the same time. This movement has been created in and for Cuba, made up mostly of young Cubans, many of whom lack even basic economic resources.

They know that a lot of people read and believe us. They’ve realized that we’ve gained credibility and racked up a large number of readers over a very short period of time, readers from all over the world and of all ages, especially young people.

A part of this new journalism’s success is down to the fact that we don’t accept being “docile workers who obey the official political ideology, nor interns who live under the protection of their salary, exercising their “freedom”, so to speak.”

Temen que seamos periodistas diferentes, creando un periodismo responsable, serio, veraz, oportuno, atractivo, crítico y elogioso a la vez. Hecho desde y para Cuba, por jóvenes cubanos

They’re afraid that we’ll become a different kind of journalist, creating a responsible, serious, real, timely, attractive, critical and complementary journalism all at the same time. Made in and for Cuba, by young Cubans.

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.


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