Desde Dentro de Cuba.

Distribuido por Cuba Free Press, Inc. -

February 22, 1999, Cuba Free Press.

JOURNALISM BELONGS TO ALL OF US By Raul Rivero, Cuba Free Press.

Part I

HAVANA - Those groups with political power here don't search for the truth. Not even for verisimilitude, i.e., probability. They simply want to make themselves permanent, even eternal. The searchers for truth are in journalism, the instrument that society uses to illuminate life and to open up to debate that which concerns and interests us all as human beings.

The journalists are those who in a responsible and efficient way must position themselves with reality and describe it either as if through a mirror or by interpreting it with intelligence and integrity.

No political or ideological group or any other sector of the society can monopolize the information because then the mirror would have its quicksilver altered, so that the pictures would be weighted, like the dice used by crooked players. And some interpretations could be intelligent but they also would be accompanied by a genuflection.

I believe that the alternative journalism that has developed in the past few years in Cuba is on the road that does not exclude from the national scene the visions of the official media but rather adds a dimension by showing the face of Cuban life from other angles, so the entire phenomenon that appears will be complete and integral.

The resources, the alternatives and the destinies of the news and comments from these alternative communicators are neither directed nor oriented by their political views. Nevertheless, they have been prosecuted by a pitiless police repression, by the permanent persecution that they suffered - that we suffer - from the very moment that they began this labor.

What has made independent journalism illegal is the intolerance of the authorities, who systematically deny the licenses that should be provided by the Ministry of Justice, according to terms of the 1976 constitution.

Those who have tried to convert us into a group at the service of foreign interests are the official functionaries with their blind concepts and the arrogance that keeps them from comprehending that in this country - which they look upon as their private property - someone could express, respectfully and professionally, their opinion or focus a light into dark and dreaded shadows.

In Cuba, to publish a mimeographed sheet could land its author in jail. Never for a moment has a municipal broadcasting station or a news publication (all under government control) opened its facilities to someone independent. So, independent journalism, to be perceived and diffused must therefore extend itself to foreign territory. The intolerance, the repression and the blockade against using domestic resources has forced this journalism to reach out to an area not geographically but rather sentimentally a part of Cuba: The southern part of Florida.

The different kinds of help and gifts of dollars from every part of the world is not something automatically given to independent journalists. It was brought about as a result of the practices of the Cuban state organisms. The North American laws which the Cuban National Assembly of People's Power uses in its efforts to make us bastard children have even been examined critically by many of the independent journalists in articles published in international media.

Public opinion must already begin to understand that the differences between the governments of Cuba and the United States and the conflicts growing out of the embargo are being used so as to justify actions against those inside Cuba who just want to express their ideas, reorganize the civil society, bring a political thought to light or simply tell what is going on.

I understand those colleagues who in recent days from the pages of the official media have attacked us with hate and aggression. I comprehend those deputies who, in the eye of television camera lenses, propose that the penalties for us in the independent media should include death. Yes, I understand.

If in Cuba the right existed to reply to the critics, they could be certain that I would not use my space to attack them or defend myself from the brutal insults that they have directed at us. No, I would instead write about the rights they have to express themselves, even with great hatred. For journalism is the heritage of all the beings of the earth and the right to express an opinion is that marvelous essence that distinguishes us from the oxen and the sheep.

Nevertheless, there will be those who become the concubines of power and others who will find themselves too close to those places where they can hear the thud-clank of the lockdowns behind the prison bars.

Part II

The new law (Feb. 16) on "The Protection of National Independence and the Cuban Economy" permits the authorities of my country to condemn me for the sovereign actions that I have carried out since I was able to reason: To write without being told what to write.

The road that I began two years ago after a total break with the government's media and cultural organs has converted me into a distinctly different human being, someone who has been liberated through his own efforts, someone who - inside a hostile and menacing environment - was able to begin a voyage toward individual liberty.

The fears, the prisons, the hostile harassment have only served to strengthen the valor of those of us who are the receptive 'vessels.' They have augmented my devotion to the sovereignty of mankind that must surely be an indomitable instinct, i.e., much more than merely a desire or a necessity.

So it is that when the new legislation, edited with indelible ink and used in a tricky maneuver so as to makes it appear that a tiny group of journalists who are working in Cuba are allied with narco-traffickers, pimps and mercenary soldiers in the pay of the United States, it only causes me to feel a wave of repugnance.

The years of prison which the law promises with such generosity, on top of the fear of being isolated and of the punishments, can only be sensed here with consternation. Yet this setting is applied to the Cuban nation as if it were an ancient tribe, like a cyst on an island, shut away from the information and debate of ideas, unaffected by evolution and change.

Arms are raised high in support of this law, insults flow freely from obscure functionaries of the official government media, menacing telephone calls invade my home, and what follows is the shock that I feel each dawn as I realize that I have only my typewriter - so far - to help me feel some freedom. But I also have the certainty that to provide information with objectivity and professionalism and to write my opinion about the society in which I live can not be a very grave crime.

It is very difficult to feel guilty. It is almost as if I were to be accused of breathing or told that I would be imprisoned for loving my daughters, my mother, my wife, my brother or my friends.

I cannot condemn myself as a criminal for describing faithfully the drama of there being more than 300 Cuban political prisoners or for informing people that a building in Old Havana is crumbling or for making public an interview with a Cuban who wants his country to accept a plurality of ideas and a full measure of freedom of expression.

Nobody, no law can make me take on the mentality of a gangster or other criminal simply because I report the arrest of a dissident or bring to light the prices of the basic alimentary products for survival in Cuba or edit a note saying that it seems like a disaster to me that more than 20,000 Cubans leave their homeland each year for exile in the United States or that hundreds of others desperately try to get away to some place, any place.

Nobody can make me feel like a criminal, an enemy agent or a turncoat or any of the other name-calling nouns the government uses to try to degrade or humiliate us. I am merely a man who writes. One who writes in the country where I was born and where my great grandparents were born.

Raśl Rivero, Cuba Free Press.

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