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Sunday, March 04, 2012

Declaration of Principles / Miriam Celaya

Declaration of Principles / Miriam Celaya
Miriam Celaya, Translator: Unstated

Yesterday, February 23, 2012, for a second time, Cuban TV has honored me
by exposing my image — along with those of several other independent
journalists and dissidents — in the national news. The previous occasion
occurred months ago, during an unfortunate program televised through the
famously dull Roundtable, regarding an alleged cyberwar that the
everlasting CIA was orchestrating (who?), serving the interests of (the
same villain!) the U.S. government, which is always called "the North
American government" as if Mexico and Canada were just simply northern
provinces.

I'm not going to wear myself out with accusations of defamation,
misrepresentation and misuse of my image to a government that has never
had the decency to acknowledge their responsibility for crimes far
superior to these. The executions, the senseless Cuban deaths due to
adventures of war in other countries when Soviet subsidies allowed the
feeding of the egomania and megalomania of the interventionist F.
Castro, the torture and deaths of political prisoners throughout the
so-called "Revolution", the events* at the Psychiatric Hospital of
Havana in January 2010, more than five decades of systematic destruction
of a nation as a whole, the separation of tens of thousands of families
by permanent exodus, the debt irresponsibly imposed on present and
future generations, and many other sin whose list is endless, sins that
dwarf any official insults to a few people. If there were not the
possibility of some dark maneuver of the well-known style of repression
that consists of demonizing citizens just before launching the blog that
throws them into prisons, perhaps I should be flattered.

However, since this is about the disproportionate onslaught of the
longest dictatorship in this hemisphere, owner of the media, of the
repressive forces, of the army and of all the power, against just a
handful of citizens who have the audacity to feel themselves to be free,
allow me on my personal and absolutely individual account and not
representing anyone else, to once again refute the official discourse,
that by repetition, demagoguery, and mendacity, has not ceased to be
unhealthy. And given that, in their proverbial cowardice the authorities
can't even permit the luxury of awarding me the right to reply in their
own media — for obvious reasons — I launch my dart from this blog that,
obviously, has been making a dartboard for them for four years.

On the morning of February 22, I attended the video conference "Press
Freedom and Expression", organized by the Office of Public Affairs of
the United States Interest Section, with the participation of Luis
Botello, the International Center for Journalists, Dr. Sallie Hughes,
professor of Journalism and Latin American Studies, University of Miami,
and Zita Arocha, Cuban-American journalist and professor in the
Department of Communication at the University of Texas at El Paso. Among
the topics of the conference were also social networks and the Internet,
and the importance of the digital age for freedom of the press. A whole
meal for those who use such means as the only space to express
themselves. Just as I might have attended a similar event had it been
organized by the embassies of Iran, Syria or Venezuela, or if it had
been held at the Faculty of Communication at the University of Havana;
but this falls in the plane of pure fiction: we know that to discuss
certain topics requires democratic spaces.

What first drew my attention on arriving at the site where the
conference was going to be held, was the excessive display of "official
paparazzi" who were excitedly rushing around with their cameras every
time some participant arrived. The number of "journalists" who were
government employees almost exceeded us. That, not counting the vehicle
deployment occupying the adjacent areas, for a moment made me suspect
that they were organizing one of their classic rallies of repudiation.

I emerged from a taxi and immediately was the focus of Cuban TV cameras
and other official media, which at the moment made me feel like a
Hollywood star or, perhaps more suited to the environment, like a
postmodern Mata Hari, such that I had to walk to the corner of 7th and
24th, Miramar, where other colleagues were waiting, to get in bright
sun, take off my glasses and wave my hand at the cameras. I am a caring
person, gentlemen, if I want to film me, do it well.. Nor did I have the
least intention of hiding myself, given that I was not enrolled in a
conspiracy in the style of the Vi Congress or the National Conference of
the Cuban Communist Party.

The town criers of Sauron, however, despite all the time they spent
taking pictures of us front and profile, chose a bad picture to display
on national TV. One in which the we conference attendees were in front
of a table where they were checking the names of the guests and giving
us printed materials relating to the topics and details of the speakers,
such that, by necessity, we were offering our backs to the cameras. This
encourages the false impression that we were shying away from the
photographers. We were the "mercenaries" caught red-handed at the moment
when we were rushing to "hide" in the shelter of the "masters" of the
Empire. We had gone, according to the mediocre Castro media, "to receive
instructions from the North American government," and even, I was told,
a rabid official blogger declared that in that moment they were giving
us "tickets for the snack."

You can see how people project their own existential misery over
whatever space. No, buddy, we were not at the Conference Center, and so
we didn't need tickets to have a soft drink or a cup of coffee. The
servants of the Cuban government have a sick fixation on credentials,
tickets, snacks, imaginary "goodie bags" with gifts and currency
supposedly offered by the functionaries of the United States and certain
European countries as rewards to the dissidents. It is a reflection of
their own reality. However, the most favored of this incredibly
miserable caste have no modesty whatsoever when it comes to exhibiting
their private cars, with which the government awards the official
journalism's most bitter liars.

The U.S. Interests Section (USIS), meanwhile, has been accused of
interference and other similar epithets, which makes me reflect on other
events taking place in that country, without the participants being
harassed by hostile cameras and a phony press. I refer, for example, to
the performance of the children of Cuba's La Colmenita, in the public
space in front of the White House in Washington D.C.; or to the street
rallies in favor of the release of five Cuban spies that State Security
freely orchestrates in the U.S. and in other countries sympathetic to
this dictatorship.

The leaders do not seem to care much that the Cuban government is
promoting their revolution beyond the borders of the island. But it
would not occur to me that he USIS, another embassy or simply ordinary
Cubans, could meet to debate, whether it be press freedom or the
survivability of insects, in any public place in this country. Sometimes
it is not possible even in private spaces, as the Ladies in White can
testify to; on Thursday, February 23, they were the targets of long
hours of hatred and fury from the "repudiators" who, with complete
impunity, convened by the powers-to-be, harassed them while they paid
homage the memory of Orlando Zapata Tamayo on the second anniversary of
his assassination; a blundering police and paramilitary deployment which
closed off Neptune street, in the capital, to traffic and maintained a
disturbance of the public peace, in what is officially a tribute to the
martyr and a recognition of dissent.

But there's no point in crying over spilt milk. A government that feels
it must harass dissidents so openly must be afraid. After this new media
attack I just have to reaffirm publicly my position in a declaration of
principles: in my capacity as a free citizen I claim the right to attend
the events I myself decide of my own free will, without asking
permission of the government; I do not receive financing or a salary
from any government, including Cuba's, and I refuse to abandon these
principles under any circumstances; I am the absolute owner of my
actions and my ideas and I am willing to vouch for them; I also publish
and will publish my work and my ideas wherever I see fit. The gentlemen
farmers should come to understand that not all Cubans are slaves on
their endowment. Number 59100900595, my official inscription number in
this island prison, was freed years ago by my own will and conviction. I
would rather die than return to the irons.

Translator's note:
*The events at the psychiatric hospital were the deaths 26 mental
patients due to starvation and cold.

February 24 2012

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