Friday, August 26, 2016

Journalists in Cuba, Bad News and Firings

Journalists in Cuba, Bad News and Firings
August 25, 2016
Fernando Ravsberg

HAVANA TIMES — 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."

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.

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 "", 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."

Source: Journalists in Cuba, Bad News and Firings - Havana -
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