Wednesday, May 10, 2017

The Cuban Regime is an Enemy to the Freedom of Expression

The Cuban Regime is an Enemy to the Freedom of Expression / Iván García

Ivan Garcia, 10 May 2017 — When he is particularly bored, after flicking
through the eight channels that there are on the island, 56 year old
civil engineer Josuan watches the national news some nights with a smirk
only to later write a critical analysis on the state press's awful

"The Cuban press is disgusting. The news channels and local newspapers
are a compendium of good news that exalts the supposed achievements and
conceals the deficiencies. It is journalism that does not reflect what
ordinary people want. They manipulate absolutely everything, that or
they disguise and hide information. Venezuela is the best example. The
protests in capitalist countries are in order to defend social conquests
and they are suppressed by the police's heavy-handedness. Venezuela's
news is lead by terrorists and fascists that want to give Maduro's state
a blow and never mention police brutality. For this reason, people who
want to be well-informed go to illegal cable channels or read foreign
press on the internet", expresses Josuan.

To date, Cuba's state journalism is a tribute to the absurd. Cantinflas
falls short; a choir of trained scribes and ventriloquists manage in
their thick opinion pieces to defend a system that is incapable of
guaranteeing decent housing for many families, sufficient food and a
living wage.

Freedom of expression is quashed on the island by the government's
propaganda. It all started when Fidel Castro abolished the private and
republican press shortly after his arrival into power in 1959.

It buried honest and different exchanges from other political ideals and
schools of thought. The control of the press, the banning of other
parties and of carrying out strikes to demand greater salaries cut off a
great number of rights that any modern society is entitled to. It
transformed Cuba into the perfect dictatorship.

An executive machine that repressed or silenced people to dissident
voices with the threat of several years imprisonment. The government
became the owner of newspapers, magazines, television channels, radio
programmes and publishing houses.

Fidel Castro's model can be summarised in one of his own statements:
"Inside the Revolution, everything, outside the Revolution, nothing."
Fear silenced the average citizen.

Histrionics and simulation became a mask, used by the populace for
convenience, to elect people's delegates who do not actually solve
anything, to applaud an ideology that is not theirs and to appear loyal
to the regime by using language that is full of slogans.

Although the majority of Cubans may pretend to be integrated with the
army of zombies, observing the game while comfortably seated in the
grandstands, factors such as the continuous economic crisis, daily
shortages and a future caught up in interrogation have been catalysts to
wake them up from their drowsiness.

In the absence of free press where the people are able to express their
discontent, waiting in the queue for their potatoes or in the back of
old private taxis people have expressed critical opinions, some being
openly anti-government.

We got to know two Miguel Antonios. One is a young director of a
department producing lactose free products just outside of La Habana who
projects an image of being a Revolutionary cadre. The other is a private
entrepreneur who arrives at his home frustrated before the many
obstacles and challenges to business autonomy.

"The system for businesses in Cuba is a disaster. It has to be
completely abolished and authentic businesses that are private and
cooperative with actual independence must be created. This is a problem.
We ought to build a new country that is more democratic and functional,
that rewards talent and creativity. But I fear that with this current
government it is impossible. The only place where Cubans can express
their freedom is in their homes. Outside of our homes we swallow our
tongues", businessman Miguel Antonio emphasizes.

At the end of the 1980s there were surges in an independent press that,
without censorship and with alternative perspectives, described the
reality of the nation. This allowed little cracks to open in the
monolithic control of the flow of information that the state exerts.

About 200 journalists with no desires to be martyrs write for
alternative digital media outlets. Some of them with notable quality bet
on modern capitalism or true socialism and agree to do so by following
democratic rules. In one corner of the ring, we can find those who
openly consider themselves to be anti-Castro. In the other corner are
those with a more impartial view who recognise the social policies of
the revolution and condemn the United States' meddling in the funding of
the dissidence.

Nothing is black or white. There are nuances. This is the case with the
Periodismo de Barrio (Journalism of the Neighbourhood, a Cuban
newspaper) and their superb chronicals on poor communities in the depths
of Cuba. Also the relaxed digital magazine El Estornudo (The Sneeze), or
La Joven Cuba (Young Cuba), websites which opt for a democratic
neo-communism. But all of them with no exceptions are censored by the

People like Frank, a refrigerator mechanic, consider that "a free press
that is not biased is necessary amid so much corruption, governmental
secretism that does not consider the people and Cubans' need to see
themselves reflected in the media, not as a caricature, but to see their

Freedom of expression is not in its prime. According to Reporters
without Borders, Cuba is the worst country in the Americas with regards
to the freedom of press. In Mexico, organised crime and the government's
indifference coupled with the deficiency of democratic jurisprudence has
made it impossible to investigate the deaths of various journalists in
the last ten years. Venezuela currently is an open dossier on
understanding how autocratic doctrines work and their congenital
disrespect for the freedom of expression and democracy.

Even the United States, the supposed guardian of liberties, is finding
itself confronted by its unpredictable president Donald Trump who has
classified the media as 'enemies of the people'. Of course, Cuba is worse.

Source: The Cuban Regime is an Enemy to theFreedom of Expression / Iván
García – Translating Cuba -

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