EDITORIAL: The only Cuban press that deserves applause does not appear on television
Few absurdities of Cuban invoice compete in magnitude and degradation with the spectacle that we attended on Thursday, March 14: the Cuban press publicly celebrates its day, and does so with an impudence that provokes disbelief and indignation in equal parts.
Any media in the free world can understand without much explanation why it is abhorrent that a press like the Cuban is patting on the shoulders on this day. But it is even more serious: any medium in the world would be surprised that the Cuban press had the nerve to call itself as such.
From the outset it is worth defining the concept: the Cuban press, which integrates the mass media into the hands, all of them, of the Castro state, does not admit qualitative analysis. It is not a bad press, or mediocre, or servile. It is not an officialist press. It is simply not press.
In Cuba there is no official journalism. Directly that which is published every morning, what comes out fresh from the printing press, what is broadcasted in careful newscasts and millimetrically identical among them, what emanates from the radio waves of the whole country, can not be considered journalism of any kind. To describe it as bad, superficial, or flawed would imply that it fulfills the basic functions of journalism, even if it does so in a defective manner. And it is not remotely the case.
If you subtract baseball, say, the rules of the game, the bats and gloves and balls, and you change the stadium for a race track, can you still call baseball that resulting monster? The answer does not admit nuances. So it is with journalism.
If we pervert the essential role of the press to such an extent that not only the decisions and powers of power are not questioned, but that the press itself is the vehicle that uses power to extend its positions, its interests, and to manipulate it. People that the press should protect, in no way can be called journalism.
If before investigating the leaders, Cuban journalism investigates those who question those leaders, and acts as a public square to assassinate the reputation of dissidents, activists, peaceful demonstrators, without ever offering the sacred right to the reply that is studied in any academy of responsible journalism in the world, that profanity can not be called journalism.
Consequently, any qualifying adjective is improper. It is imposed. Equivalent to call a mathematician an individual who practices swimming or sows vegetables.
One of the most famous and recurring phrases of George Orwell recalls that "Journalism is publishing what someone does not want you to publish. Everything else is public relations. " The compendium of mass media that under other circumstances could make up a Cuban press, has as its mission precisely never to publish something that the power does not want published. It is an antithesis in itself.
When, in future decades, historians want to know in depth how Cubans lived and thought of the second half of the 20th century and what is going on in the 21st century, what their needs and aspirations were, their shortcomings, they should snoop on art and humor as desperate resources .
The non-existence of a real press in the nation led to a distortion of roles: Cubans began to find in certain songs, in certain films, in certain plays or humorous programs, the criticism that agonizingly denied them who should have it by function elementary: the press.
While Cubans have lost their vision due to a lack of food and vitamins, Cuban newspapers have published over-compliances and insulting insults for average intelligence. While Cubans have drowned in the sea escaping from the country, or have been kidnapped by Central American gangs, national news programs have pointed to poverty statistics in the United States and have amplified the donations of the Castro government to Haiti, Suriname, Ecuador. Never has an "aspirant to the press" failed more insistently with that obligation to reflect the feelings and realities of the people it claims to represent.
The immense hole left by that non-existent press has tried to fill it with lung, blood and hardship, independent journalism that is done in different parts of the country. A swarm of activists who have found in the written word, or videotaped, how to fight for their creeds and spread their voices beyond the bars of socialist censorship.
Cuban independent journalism has tried to safeguard the questioning essence, frontal, elusive to pressures and threats, which is an undoubted feature of true journalism. However, much to his chagrin, he has not managed in these years to become a de facto substitute for national journalism, and this is due to a factor that infringes the Cuban dictatorship: its limited reach.
Still Cubans do not inform themselves in a massive way through the printed or digital bulletins that come from the national independent press. Still the competition in scope and power between the propaganda apparatus of the Communist Party and the courageous but limited efforts of the free press is shamefully unequal.
In addition, as a logical distortion of the lack of a normal scenario, the Cuban independent press has had to prioritize direct reporting as a daily exercise, without allowing the flourishing of rigorous, neat, intelligent journalism, like the one that would exist if Cubans should not be willing to be martyrs before deciding to be free journalists. The price to pay is vulgarly high. Ask the 75 of the Black Spring if not.
In case there are more reasons not to celebrate this Cuban Press Day, the brand new Constitution that the government promoted (and that the Cuban "no press" was in charge of injecting into the brains of its people with comprehensive campaigns) outlaws any form of media of communication that is not owned by the state and that does not respond to the principles of Socialism. Until now, the current Constitution did not go into these specificities although in practice the political police persecuted independent journalism with as much or more anger than the political exercise itself.
Now, constitutionally, no Cuban has the right to found a newspaper or even open a rebellious blog. The Constitution approved on February 24 is responsible for preventing it.
That is why the hard work, at times kamikaze, of independent Cuban journalists is by far the only one that deserves applause on this day that the ruling party chooses to clap its own shoulders. Because that small free press does not respond to dictations or guidelines, but to something as primary as giving voice to the needy, the dispossessed, the mistreated.
With his shortcomings and his long journey to overcome, to give body to an investigative professional exercise, rigor and conscience, Cuban independent journalism is the only one that can look in the mirror and accept congratulations without blushing. Without feeling ashamed of himself. Because it is the last redoubt of decency in Cuban communication, even if it does not appear on television.