Desde Dentro de Cuba.

Distribuido por Cuba Free Press, Inc. -

03 de Marzo del 2000

INDEPENDENT IS MUCH MORE THAN A WORD. By Rafael Contreras Bueno, Cuba Free Press

Pinar del Río.- A neighbor criticized me for being an independent journalist.

He said there is no need to be involved in what we do because there is a free press in Cuba!

Apparently he doesn’t know the abysmal difference that exists between Cuba’s state-controlled press and a free press and, even more, an independent or dissident press. I tried to explain to him that I feel more fulfilled since my decision to become an independent journalist. I am truly more independent because my right to speak is stripped of most bonds. I am more independent because my opinion is read by people who can refute it without fear. I can write the truth about these times and it may be published.

True, I take risks as an independent journalist but I am certain they are risks well taken.

I have a friend who is “imprisoned.” He works on the government newspaper as a columnist and scarcely realizes now that he does not have words to describe hid views. His articles are revised two or three times daily by somebody who belongs to a party they consider communist.

He also is a party militant so he can aspire to become the manager of a newspaper or an editor. It doesn’t matter if he isn’t a good journalist or doesn’t know how to distinguish a column from an article or a report.

What matters on this island is that he has revolutionary ideas and supports the regime’s “opinions.” What my friend doesn’t know is that we independent journalists are really revolutionaries. My Larousse Illustrated Dictionary accompanies me when I write and I note there the definition of “revolutionary.”

Revolutionary: agitator, seditious, rebel, insurgent. He who strives for changes.

Then I told my friend that without being a troublemaker, I consider myself an advocate for changes and I also consider myself a rebel although the others who criticize me as much as he does do not want to use the adjective “revolutionary” with me. The fact is that so much abuse has been committed with that word that it has been debased in Cuba. I prefer then that they continue to consider me independent, a dissident and an opponent.

My government party friend is a prisoner without knowing it. He has to write yes when he might think no. He puts up with the threat for a salary. He doesn’t realize that he is also being kept silent. My friend doesn’t know that a man in Cuba is not independent even though he gets out of prison. That man is only “free” of prison. He can walk without physical bars which hinder his walking but he cannot be independent under a regime that places bonds on his opinions. Independent is much more than a word.

He starts to go away and I know only too well that I have not convinced him and realize he has a right to think as he does. So before he is gone I suggest he let me be as I am and to think as I think. And I ask him in a friendly manner that he let me and my colleagues who write from this side be independent. I assured him that we feel freer.

Rafael Contras Bueno, Cuba Free Press.

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