Information as Treason
Information as Treason / 14ymedio, Yoani Sanchez
14ymedio, Yoani Sanchez, Generation Y, 14 October 2016 – Authoritarians
aren’t very given to calm. They need the citizens to feel widespread
discomfort to be able to govern them with ease. This scenario of fears
has sharpened recently in Cuba, where the government has strengthened or
opened new fronts against the opposition, against the self-employed,
against young people who aspire to a scholarships to study in the United
States, and, especially, against the independent press.
The battle drums sound and the main enemy is embodied on this occasion
by journalists not affiliated with the state media who are reporting on
the damage caused by Hurricane Matthew. The government is opposed to
“private sites, or those openly in service to the counterrevolution”
giving “an image, not of a different, but of a distorted reality,”
according to an article published this Thursday in the official
The Granma article, titled “Matthew: Humanism, Transparency and
Manipulation” is barely a skirmish in the escalation of recent weeks
against publications that have escaped Communist Party control. What is
new is that this time the attack reaches certain areas of the
independent press that have fought tooth and nail not to be included in
the sack of “enemies.”
The current offensive against them, embodied in the arrests suffered by
the Periodismo de Barrio team and its director Elaine Diaz, the threats
against Fernando Ravsberg about a possible expulsion from the country,
and the sanction against Holguin journalist Ramirez Pantoja, show that
for the retrograde Cuba officialdom all cats are grey, or, and it’s the
same thing: the journalist who doesn’t applaud with sufficient
enthusiasm is a traitor.
The official onslaught has reached the report by the Committee to
Protect Journalists (CPJ) on the situation of the press in Cuba, a study
prepared with the cooperation of Ernesto Londoño, a journalist for The
New York Times whose editorials in favor of the thaw with the United
States were, until recently, praised by Cuba’s government press.
Now… now we’ve all been tossed into the same sack.
It serves the new victims not at all to distance themselves from those
who have been stigmatized by official propaganda on prime time
television programs. There is little to be gained today by the
acrimonious official rejection of independent journalism born in the
nineties. Nor even that abomination of “controversial” or dissident
bloggers as they publicly insist they are guided by a leftist ideology.
None of that matters. Because what is happening now is a clash between
two eras. An era in which the Cuban Communist Party could control,
decide and manipulate at will all the information published in the
island’s media. A time when we learned weeks later that the Berlin Wall
had fallen, and when the images of the 1994 Maleconazo uprising in
Havana itself were whisked off the front pages of the national dailies.
This era is dying and another is being born, thanks to new technologies,
to many journalists’ commitment to the truth, and to the growing
eagerness to be informed displayed by many Cubans.
However, to the Plaza of the Revolution, accustomed to deciding each
headline and appointing the directors of every newspaper, radio and TV
station, it matters little whether the new object of their animosity is
a fashion magazine, a sports publication or an information site. If it
doesn’t have the Party’s seal on it any attempt to inform will be seen
as a declaration of war.
As long as Cuban journalists fail to recognize that beyond their
editorial nuances, their phobias or their individual ideological
affiliations they must unite and protect each other, officialdom will
continue to land these blows. They will demonize, arrest and confiscate
the tools of the trade, whether the journalists they are talking about
the migrations of birds of prey or acts of repudiation suffered by the
The only thing worth distancing ourselves from right now is letting the
forces most opposed to free information tear us apart. Separated, we are
just journalists at the mercy of the whims of power; together we are
united in a vigorous and needed profession.
Let this article serve to transmit my solidarity to all my colleagues
who today are in the crosshairs of repression, whatever their editorial
line, the focus of their work or the color of the dreams they cherish
for our country.
Source: Information as Treason / 14ymedio, Yoani Sanchez – Translating