Cuba’s Journalists Missing in Action

Six members of the Cuban volleyball team have been detained in Finland without the press explaining what crime they are accused of. (Volleyball World League)

Six members of the Cuban volleyball team have been detained in Finland without the press explaining what crime they are accused of. (Volleyball World League)

14ymedio, Generation Y, Yoani Sanchez, Havana, 7 July 2016 — My father came home with his head spinning. “What is the crime that several Cuban athletes in Finland are accused of?” He had only heard the official statement signed by the Cuban Volleyball Federation read on primetime news on Monday and published in the written press. The text did not clarify the imputed misdeed, so my father speculated: “Illegal sale of tobacco? Theft? Public scandal?”

The rape of a woman, for which the athletes are presumed responsible, was not mentioned in the statement, which constitutes an act of secrecy, concealment of the truth and disrespect for the audience. The official press acts as if we are small children with delicate ears to whom they cannot mention any gory details. Or worse still, as if we don’t deserve to know the seriousness of the accusations.

What happened, again makes clear the straitjacket that prevents information professionals from doing their jobs within the Communist Party-controlled media. This is something that many of them bear with pain and frustrations, while others—the most opportunistic—take advantage of the censorship to do work that is mediocre or convenient for the powers-that-be.

Why has no prominent Prensa Latina correspondent in Europe gone to Finland to report minute-by-minute on what is happening with the athletes from the island?

We suffer omissions of this type every day in the national media. These absences, now chronic, belie the winks that accompany Cuban first vice-president Miguel Diaz-Canel’s call for a journalism more attached to reality and without self-censorship. Where, now, is that official to urge the reporters to investigate and publish the details regarding the fate of the volleyball players?

It is very convenient to urge the journalists to be more daring and to take the time to guide them to be cautious or to remain silent. Such duplicity has been repeated so many times over the last five decades that it has inculcated in the collective imagination the idea that the press is synonymous with propaganda and with being an informer, a representative of the government.

The damage inflicted on Cuban journalism is profound and systematic. Repairing it will take time, a framework of respect for such an honorable profession and even the emergence of a generation of informers who are not marked by the “vices” of the current academy of Cuban journalism. These young people, without compromises with power, are the only hope left to us.

19 thoughts on “Cuba’s Journalists Missing in Action

  1. Harvard economists are saying that this is the recipe for economic expansion in venezuela:
    1. Re-structure debt
    2. Unify exchange rate
    3. Free prices and ask for international assistance

    I think the recipe is:

    1. Strongman government
    2. Service sector run with cooperatives
    3. Key industries ran by government
    4. Right size free market
    Objective:
    1. Feed the people
    2. Crush crime and chaos (unruly people)
    3. Increase made in Venezuela products and services
    4. Re-structure debt

  2. YOU WANT SOCIALISM? JUST ASK A VENEZUELAN FOR ADVICE!
    PBS NEWSHOUR VIDEO: In post-Chavez Venezuela, health care ails, food is scarce and crime is everywhere – Venezuela’s hospitals are crumbling and health care system is in shambles. Kidnappers prey on citizens whose families are rich enough to pay ransom and the capital, Caracas, is the world’s most murderous city. Food is scarce — and expensive. Falling oil prices have hit Caracas, a major exporter, especially hard. Special correspondent Nadja Drost and videographer Bruno Federico report from Caracas.
    http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/post-chavez-venezuela-health-care-ails-food-scarce-crime-everywhere/

  3. It seems to me that DC and the Gringos in general aren’t concerned about Cubans’ well being, but about having a cheap place to holiday now that life is harder for many in the US. The Embargo, or blocqueo, will be lifted wholesale the second the Dems can get enough votes. That will benefit the Castristas first of all to begin with, but the privateers or cuentapropistas have enough momentum now to also benefit and keep on becoming a bigger part of the eonomy…

  4. USA TODAY: TSA says Cuba must meet security standards for flights – by Bart Jansen — WASHINGTON – The head of the Transportation Security Administration said Wednesday that scheduled airline flights from Cuba wouldn’t be allowed in the U.S. until security is as tight as any other foreign airport sending flights to this country. The Transportation Department approved flights from 10 Cuban airports, with the first scheduled to arrive in September. But some lawmakers have questioned whether Cuba’s airports will meet U.S. security standards or potentially become a pipeline for bombs and terrorists. “Before we allow a flight to come here directly from Cuba, we will ensure that they do in fact meet all the requirements we put in place at last points of departure,” TSA Administrator Peter Neffenger told reporters after a speech at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.

    Airlines and foreign airports that send flights directly to the U.S. must provide the names of passengers and crewmembers to TSA, which scrutinizes them for security risks. Passenger luggage and cargo screening must also meet U.S. standards.

    “We don’t change the requirements country to country,” Neffenger said. “The baseline is: You have to meet an equivalent level of security if you want to fly to the United States.”

    http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/2016/07/13/tsa-says-cuba-must-meet-security-standards-flights/87049350/

  5. “ANOTHER ONE BITES THE DUST” AS QUEEN SANG IT! THE CASTRO OLIGARCHY ARE RUNNING SCARED THAT THE VENEZUELAN FREE OIL WILL DRY UP AND THE POPULATION WILL RISE UP! IT ALREADY HAS BEEN CUT 50% THIS YEAR!

    BBC NEWS: Cuban Economy Minister Marino Murillo is sacked –
    The Cuban economy minister has been removed from his post following President Raul Castro’s warning last week that people would have to tighten their belts amid the continuing economic crisis in Venezuela. The government says Marino Murillo will now have responsibility for spearheading market reforms. Cuba’s economy is closely tied to that of its socialist ally, Venezuela. But Venezuela has been hit by oil prices remaining comparatively low.

    The BBC’s Will Grant in Havana says the decision to transfer the economy minister to new duties adds to the growing sense of economic uncertainty in Cuba.

    For now, Mr Murillo will broadly remain involved in managing the communist island’s economy.

    President Castro has told Cubans to brace themselves for a tough second half of 2016 as government institutions restrict their energy consumption while a joint Cuban-Venezuelan oil refinery in the city of Cienfuegos is temporarily closed.

    For over a decade, Venezuela has supplied an estimated 100,000 barrels of oil a day to Cuba, largely paid for by missions of Cuban healthcare professionals to the South American nation.

    http://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-36791662

  6. THE 22nd ANNIVERSARY OF ONE OF THE MOST HEINOUS MURDERS BY THE CASTRO OLIGARCHY MAFIA AGAINST THE CUBAN PEOPLE, INCLUDING 12 CHILDREN!

    YOUTUBE: Víctimas del remolcador “13 de marzo”.- Victims of the Tugboat Massacre in their own words

    CUBA ARCHIVE’ TRUTH & MEMORY PROJECT: THE TUGBOAT MASSACRE OF JULY 13, 1994 – By Maria C. Werlau, March 2007 -72 WERE ON THE BOAT 41 TOTAL WERE MURDERED INCLUDING 12 CHILDREN –
    As the “13 de Marzo” sailed ahead, the pursuing tugboats kept spraying the high -pressure water andgetting in its way to make it stop. After around forty-five minutes, when the “13 de Marzo” had reachedapproximately seven miles out to sea, the pursuing tugboats began ramming it. Although the “13 deMarzo” had stopped and signaled its willingness to surrender and turn back, the relentless attackcontinued. The pilot of the “13 de Marzo” attempted to radio an SOS, but the pounding water haddamaged the electrical equipment. A vessel belonging to the Cuban Coast Guard had arrived on the scene, a Soviet-built cutter referred to as “Griffin.” 5. But, it stayed back, simply observing the spectacle. The adults brought out the children on deck to see if this would deter the incessant jet streams andcollisions. In desperation, parents held their children up in the air and pleaded for their lives, puttingthem in front of the powerful reflector lights pointed at them. But, the attackers disregarded their cries andcontinued to bombard the powerless passengers with the high pressure water. The mighty streamsscattered them all over deck, ripped clothing off, and tore children from their parents? arms.Some were swept into the ocean immediately.

  7. THE CASTRO OLIGARCHY HAS TO OBEY LAWS AND PROTOCOLS IF THEY WANT FULL DIPLOMATIC RELATIONS! BUT OF COURSE KING OBAMA WILL LET THEM SLIDE BECAUSE HE WANTS THE CUBA/US DEAL TO BE THE HIGHLIGHT OF HIS FOREIGN POLICY LEGACY!

    POLITICO: Lawmakers seek to ground Cuba flights pending security review – By Melanie Zanona

    Commercial flights to Cuba could begin as soon as this fall, but some lawmakers are seeking to ground service until Congress knows what type of screening equipment is installed at the island’s airports or whether suspected terrorists could use Cuba as a gateway to enter the U.S. A group of House members — who were denied visas to visit Cuba and assess airport security risks themselves — is backing legislation that would halt air service to Cuba until the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) conducts a thorough investigation of the security protocols at all of Cuba’s 10 international airports.Katko says the legislation has the support of leadership and some Democrats, which increases its chances for passage as either a suspender or as part of a larger spending package this fall.

    The measure also would require an agreement that grants TSA agents full access to inspect Cuban airports with direct flights to the U.S. and permits federal air marshals on flights between the U.S. and Cuba.

    Bill sponsor John Katko (R-N.Y.) hopes the TSA report will shed light on basic questions like whether Cuban airports screen bags for bombs or hire drug dealers as employees. He said it’s particularly alarming that Congress does not know answers to its questions, considering recent attacks on jetliners have been linked to airline employees.

    “You’ve got a potential nightmare on your hands,” Katko, chairman of the House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Transportation Security, said at a roundtable with a small group of reporters on Tuesday. “It may turn out there’s nothing to worry about, but we don’t know. And that’s the concern we have.”
    http://thehill.com/policy/transportation/287399-lawmakers-seek-to-ground-cuba-flights-until-security-risks-are-known

  8. YOU WANT SOCIALISM? JUST ASK A VENEZUELAN FOR ADVICE!
    NPR AUDIO STORY: The Colombia-Venezuela Border: Open To Smugglers, Closed To The Desperate – by LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO
    He tells me that the smuggling routes have been reversed: Before, Venezuela had lots of government-subsidized food that smugglers would truck into Colombia to resell at a profit. Which is why the government says it closed the border. He says the irony is that regular people — who could most benefit from being able to cross the border — are being stopped, while trucks of illicit goods are being transported with the complicity of Venezuelan authorities. The prices are sky-high: 1,300 bolivars — about $1.30 at current black market exchange rates — for a small packet of cornmeal, a staple used to make arepas, corn pockets that often are stuffed with cheese. That’s unaffordable for most people, equal to about three days’ work for someone earning the nation’s minimum wage — $15 per month. And inflation is running, by some estimates, at 700 percent.
    http://www.npr.org/sections/parallels/2016/07/12/485651368/the-colombia-venezuela-border-open-to-smugglers-closed-to-the-desperate?utm_source=facebook.com&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=npr&utm_term=nprnews&utm_content=20160712

  9. HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH : Dispatches: Dozens of Cubans Expelled from Ecuador – Asylum seekers were among those judges ruled to have deported – by José Miguel Vivanco – July 11, 2016
    Ecuador’s National Police and immigration officials detained 149 Cubans last Wednesday. The Cubans had been sleeping in tents in Ecuador’s capital, Quito, to protest their inability to obtain a special humanitarian visa from Mexico that would allow them to travel to the US border, and from there seek asylum in the United States. The police were attempting to disperse the protest. The government claimed the detainees’ rights were respected. The Cubans, however, were held for hours in a Quito court office charged with evaluating whether detainees were committing a crime when they were detained, according to human rights lawyers who sought to provide legal assistance to them. The Cubans were unable to talk to their families or lawyers and did not receive any food or water, the lawyers said.

    Starting the day after their arrest, July 7, judges conducted a series of deportation hearings in which detainees reportedly only had a few minutes to present their defense. Lawyers reported that they were able to talk to the detainees just minutes before the hearings, and that amongst the detainees there were Cubans who had previously requested asylum, others who requested asylum during the hearing, and some who had legal permits to stay in Ecuador.

    The judges ruled to deport dozens of Cubans, including asylum seekers. The judicial deportation decisions were sent to Interior Minister José Serrano for his approval. A habeas corpus request filed by human rights lawyers for all detainees remained pending when the deportation decisions were adopted.

    https://www.hrw.org/news/2016/07/11/dispatches-dozens-cubans-expelled-ecuador

  10. HMM! THAT WONDERFUL HEALTHCARE IN CUBA IS NOT FREE! NOW THIS FAMILY HAS TO PAY THE EXTORTION THE CASTRO MAFIA IS ASKING FOR IN ORDER TO GET HER BODY BACK TO ENGLAND!
    BIRMINGHAM MAIL NEWS (Video) : Frankley grandma dies in Cuba during dream birthday trip – Devastated family now face £20k medical bill after Sheila Dumbleton, 57, died on holiday – A GREAT-grandmother stranded abroad after being unable to pay a £20,000 medical bill has died in a Cuban hospital. Sheila Dumbleton, from Frankley, saw her dream holiday with husband Raymond turn into a nightmare when she fell seriously ill. After spending several weeks in hospital in Cuba the 57-year-old died today. Now Sheila’s distraught daughter Erica McCleary, who was originally fundraising to get the money together to pay the medical bill, says she will not stop fighting until her mum’s body is flown home. Raymond, Sheila’s husband of 34 years, is still in Cuba and his family fear they will not be able to get him, or his wife’s body, home until the medical bill is paid. The couple were then been left to foot the bill after their claim was declined by their travel insurers.
    http://www.birminghammail.co.uk/news/midlands-news/frankley-grandma-dies-cuba-during-11599963

  11. It’s about what Cuba does to itself, but it’s also about what the world does to Cuba, whether it’s helping or hindering. I thought the brilliant young Cala of CNN en Español could become the Hispanic Christiane Amanpour, but instead he goes off to do the New Age thing with Dr Chopra or whoever. New Age was new in the 70es, gimme a break!
    The point I’m trying to get at is that you can’t reduce a place like Cuba – which has punched far above its weight geopolitically – to merely a nice tourist spot and exotic culture. If the world is going to work, all its parts need to realize their full potential.
    Cuba isn’t only about cigars and rum, but also sugar, coffee, and so much else that the Castristas have all but destroyed…

  12. THE LATE, GREAT CUBAN SINGER Celia Cruz AND OTHER ARTISTS ARE STILL CENSORED IN CUBA RADIO, TV AND OTHER CASTRO CONTROLLED MEDIA!

    TIME MAGAZINE PHOTOS : How Cuba’s Reggaeton Defies Internet Restriction – Reggaeton incorporates elements of hip-hop, electronic music and rap with influences of Jamaican dancehall – BY Chelsea Matiash

    The language can be explicit, the lyrics could be considered immoral, and the genre was once banned entirely by Raul Castro’s administration. So how do performers from the now-ubiquitous Cuban Reggaeton scene find celebrity, let alone spread their music in a country where internet connectivity relies on expensive, government-approved WiFi hotspots that are unreliable and inundated at best? The El Paquete (The Packet), a hard drive that is delivered weekly for a nominal fee, is a significant player in the dissemination of media not accessible to legions of Cubans hungry for information. It is on this semi-clandestine device that proprietors of a phenomenon that has infiltrated Cuban airwaves spread music that has everyone from children to teens to grandparents dancing along.

    Photographer Lisette Poole had been living in Cuba for about a year when she noticed Reggeaton music permeating Cuban culture. She amassed tracks from hard drives and approached artists, once in an airport—who despite their star power are much more accessible than their American cultural counterparts. “In Cuba in general I found that people are pretty accessible, even if they are really famous,” Poole tells TIME. “Everywhere they go they get mobbed by young kids who want their autograph and want their picture taken.”

    Despite the limitations on connectivity, artists can create songs and videos that circulate “all over Cuba within a couple of days,” says Poole. She says the creation and distribution of Reggaeton content is in ‘constant flow’ where artists keep up with a demand for new music.
    http://time.com/4395628/cuba-reggaeton-music/

  13. AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL: RESTRICTIONS ON FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION IN CUBA- Amnesty International Publications 2010
    STATE MONOPOLY OF THE MEDIA: The media is a key arena in which the right to freedom of expression is exercised. It plays a critical role in any society, for example raising awareness of human rights and exposing human rights violations. The media has the potential to help shape public opinion and to monitor and assess the performance of those holding public office at all levels; it is an important tool for scrutinizing government practices in all societies no matter their political ideology. The absence of an independent media is a serious obstacle to the enjoyment of freedom of expression and the adequate review of corrupt and abusive official practices. Restrictions on the Cuban media are stringent and pervasive and clearly stop those in the country from enjoying their right to freedom of opinion and expression, including freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.8 The state maintains a total monopoly on television, radio, the press, internet service providers, and other electronic means of communication.9 According to official figures, there are currently 723 publications (406 print and 317 digital), 88 radio stations, four national TV channels (two devoted to educational programming), 16 regional TV stations and an international TV channel. All are financed and controlled by the government.10 Three newspapers provide national coverage: Granma, which is the organ of the Cuban Communist Party, Juventud Rebelde and Trabajadores.

    CONTROL OF INTERNET ACCESS
    In Cuba, access to the internet remains under state control. It is regulated by the Law of Security of Information, which prohibits access to internet services from private homes. Therefore, the internet in Cuba has a social vocation and remains accessible at education centres, work-places and other public institutions. Internet can also be accessed in hotels but at a high cost. In October 2009, the government adopted a new law allowing the Cuban Postal Services to establish cyber-cafés in its premises and offer internet access to the public. However, home connections are not yet allowed for the vast majority of Cubans and only those favoured by the government are able to access the internet from their own homes.
    However, many blogs are not accessible from within Cuba because the Cuban authorities have put in place filters restricting access. The blogs affected are mainly those that openly criticize the Cuban government and its restrictions on freedom of expression, association, peaceful assembly and movement. For example, Generation Y is one of the dozens of blogs that are filtered or intermittently blocked by the government and are not accessible inside Cuba.

    http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/asset/AMR25/005/2010/en/62b9caf8-8407-4a08-90bb-b5e8339634fe/amr250052010en.pdf

  14. THE LEFTISTS LOVE TO VISIT THE “SOCIALIST ZOO” IN CUBA. BUT THEY WOULD NEVER LIVE THERE ON $20/MOTH LIKE THE ORDINARY CUBAN CITIZEN DOES! — THE NATION: Hipster Colonialism and the ‘Ruin’ of Cuba – A common sentiment about the country’s development shows that some Americans see the island as a tropical Cold War museum. By Andrés S. Pertierra — When you talk to enough Americans about Cuba, especially those on the political left, someone will inevitably say those words that are like nails on a chalkboard to Cubans and Cuban Americans alike: “I have to go before they ruin it.” Admittedly, most who use the phrase are well-meaning, and they do not represent the American left as a whole. Nonetheless, it hurts to hear this phrase thoughtlessly repeated time and again by people who should know better. A year and a half ago in The New Republic, Ryan Kearney noted that such a use of the word “ruin” implies a fetishization of Cuban poverty. But the sentiment also evinces a colonialist vision of Cuba, revealing the underlying entitlement of those who see the island as their own personal Tropical Museum of the Cold War.

    To understand what is being “ruined,” you have to first understand what came before. After Raúl Castro became president in 2008 many Cubans initially responded with skepticism to his promises of reform. Many had spent their entire lives under the Soviet-inspired system that Fidel had built. A mere eight years later, the difference is as stark as that between night and day. Private businesses had existed under Fidel, such as family-run restaurants known as paladares or some small landowners who had avoided cooperativization, but these were small groups, difficult to join, and beset on all sides by countless bureaucratic restrictions and onerous fiscal exactions. Before the reforms, much of Cuba’s major cities simply shut down after five or six in the afternoon, except for a handful of state-run venues directed towards tourism or Cuban nightlife. Now there are pizzerias, sandwich shops, hair salons, computer-repair shops, and people selling digital media by the megabyte at every corner.

    Raul’s reforms are not unlike Vladimir Lenin’s New Economic Policy (NEP) of the 1920s, aimed at reversing the near-complete negation of private industry that characterized the “war communism” of the Russian civil war. The NEP permitted and taxed certain forms of private enterprise, which rebounded with economic growth, greater taxable income, and thus more resources for the state to redistribute. The policy was reversed under Joseph Stalin, but while it lasted it created its own small and medium bourgeoisie, known as the NEPmen. Now Cuba has them as well, under the euphemism of cuentapropistas (on-their-own-ists). While these fundamental reforms have not been without their critics, many are simply the implementation of long-held popular demands for greater liberalization of the economy and attempts to push the gargantuan resources of the black market into the light of day and the scrutiny of tax collectors.
    http://www.thenation.com/article/hipster-colonialism-and-the-ruin-of-cuba/

  15. WALL STREET JOURNAL: Venezuela Detains Activists Calling for Maduro’s Ouster Opposition party is trying to generate support for a referendum to remove the nation’s president amid severe food shortage – By ANATOLY KURMANAEV
    CARACAS, Venezuela—The Venezuelan intelligence service detained five opposition activists in what rights groups call another sign of a government crackdown on opponents trying to stage a referendum to remove embattled President Nicolás Maduro. The detentions on Tuesday night came 10 days after the arrest of two other activists from the same opposition party, Popular Will, which has championed the push to oust Mr. Maduro. The arrests are likely to stoke tensions in a simmering political standoff that has rattled Latin America’s largest oil exporter and drawn criticism from regional leaders who accuse the ruling Socialist Party of stymieing the democratic process. Last week U.S. President Barack Obama urged Venezuela to free political prisoners and permit the recall referendum.

    A dozen officers detained Popular Will’s organizer for eastern Bolívar state, Oswaldo Rodríguez, 24, at gunpoint in a bakery in the city of Puerto Ordaz, lawyer Ezequiel Monsalve said Wednesday. Four of his associates were detained later that day. They are being held in the intelligence police’s cells and haven’t been charged, Mr. Monsalve said.

    Venezuela’s public prosecutor’s office declined to comment. The Information Ministry didn’t respond to a request to comment.

    “These detentions affect us emotionally, because we build these activist networks to organize peaceful protest and find solutions to the crisis,” Popular Will lawmaker Ligia Delfín said Wednesday in Puerto Ordaz, before her news conference was broken up by about 30 government supporters on motorbikes.

    Popular Will, which is led by jailed opposition leader Leopoldo López and now has about a dozen members in jail, has been leading the campaign to recall Mr. Maduro.

    http://www.wsj.com/articles/venezuela-detains-activists-calling-for-maduro-s-ouster-group-says-1467828376

  16. Like any other profession, the outcomes of the work of the professional depends on the Society and culture of the institutions where the professional works. This incident that you wrote about is very damaging to the image of Cuba and needs to be handled correctly. Take the assault by terrorist of the Libyan embassy of the United States. The American People did not know the details of what happened for a very long time. I figure that these athletes will be interrogated by both the Finnish authorities and Cuban authorities to get to the truth of what happened. I guarantee you that the Cuban Press did not mentioned too much about the incident because facts were hard to come by number one and they probably received a call from the Interior Minister of Cuba to not reveal too much of what happened until the Finnish authorities made their statement to the public. The Cubans are guests in Finland and it would be an embarrassment for the Finnish government not to be the first to reveal what happened to apparently a Finnish citizen.

  17. CNN does something strangely similar regarding Cuba and Cubans: CNN en Español is very good on Venezuelan reality and Latin America in general, but on Cuba not so much. Glam-gal Alejandra Oraa did a Cuba special on Destinos, a total tourist ad except for mentioning a couple of times that there is a long way to go. I thought that was ok, because the increasing private sector would benefit from more tourists. Then Cuban Ismael Cala left hid talk show, mostly farandula, – showbiz – to Cuban Camilo Engaña, still rather soft and shallow.
    Cubans don’t have to talk about Cuba all the time, but just having them do the soft stuff almost all the time is demeaning…

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