A Monday of Anguish in Havana

We can’t even say that it was dawn in the city because the horizon was a dark smudge this morning. (14ymedio)
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14ymedio, Yoani Sánchez, Havana, 8 August 2022 — My sore throat woke me up. I went to the bathroom to gargle and looked out the window. An eerie glow was visible in the sky to the east. The fire at the Matanzas Supertanker Terminal, which started last Friday, is not something that can only be seen on television screens or through social networks. It is also here, in Havana, where a dark cloud, with the residue of the combustion, covers the city while people search for answers they cannot find.

My dog ​​Chiqui raises her snout and hides her tail between her paws before hiding under the sofa. My mother calls me because she has to go outside and she doesn’t know what precautions to take. I tell her to wear a mask and to avoid at all costs getting wet in the rain if there is a downpour. In the background the official television report sounds, showing party leaders in a meeting in an air-conditioned room and some announcers who avoid precise words at all costs. “Explosion” or “alarm” is not said, nor are the words “danger” or “threat” pronounced.

They are two parallel realities. While in the microphones there is talk of overcoming and resisting, in my neighborhood people raise their eyes and fear. We can’t even say that it was dawn in the city because the horizon was a dark smudge this morning. My eyes burn and when a ray of sunlight manages to cross the clouds, a strange, almost ghostly golden line is projected on the floor of the balcony. My head throbs and I try to drink as much water as I can; yes, from that we have collected before the start of the fire, because the rains may have contaminated the reserves between Saturday and today.

I review my list of the most fragile people I know in this situation. The old lady on the corner who had to stand in line at dawn to buy bread, the friend who has a small plot of vegetables and fears that so much waste in the air will end up on that food, and if he can’t sell it he won’t have the money to support his family, and the mother with a son in the Military Service whose heart is in suspense because her boy could be sent to the disaster area, even if he lacks the experience and age to face the monster of fire.

I never believed that this system’s capacity for disaster could reach such a point, that mismanagement, violation of security protocols, laziness and voluntarism would take us to these limits. As an optimist by nature, I thought that even the official bungling had a limit or a circumscribed margin of effect, that they could not harm so many people in such a short time. I was wrong. This system is lethal. Its ineptitude kills and kills many. The sky of my city today is screaming those truths.


COLLABORATE WITH OUR WORK: The 14ymedio team is committed to practicing serious journalism that reflects Cuba’s reality in all its depth. Thank you for joining us on this long journey. We invite you to continue supporting us by becoming a member of 14ymedio now. Together we can continue transforming journalism in Cuba.

‘I Buy Food!’ The Desperate Cry That Went Unanswered in Havana

This Tuesday morning the thick voice of a town crier rang around our building. (14ymedio)
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14ymedio, Yoani Sánchez, Generation Y, Havana, 20 July 2022 — Proclamations recorded and broadcast through loudspeakers are part of the musical band of the Cuban reality of this century. In our neighborhood, a wide variety of them are heard every day, ranging from the already classic “Ice cream sandwiches!” through “I fix mattresses!” to the surprising “I buy empty shampoo bottles!” To these we can add that the current economic crisis is giving birth to its own oral announcements.

This Tuesday morning a thick voice swept through the surroundings of our building. “I buy food!” the man repeated for long minutes as he walked around the block. In other times, the noise from nearby Boyeros Avenue might not have allowed us to hear it from the higher floors of this rough concrete block, but the lack of fuel has reduced the traffic and its constant hubbub, so that announcement was heard “clarito clarito” [loud and clear]. “I buy food!” slipped through the blinds and the balconies.

For half an hour, that peculiar crier moved from the nearby train tracks to the mountain of garbage that has been growing for weeks on the corner of Estancia and Santa Ana. He made a stop at the nearest twelve-story building, repeated his shouts a few yards from the wide parking lot of the Ministry of Agriculture, approached those who were lining up for the rationed products at the bodega, and finally the desperate notice faded little by little as the man headed towards Tulipán Street.

During that time, no one responded to his cries. No neighbor looked out over the balcony to tell him, like others who shout their merchandise or his services, to wait for him to come down right now to sell him some bread, a bag of potatoes or a liter of yogurt. They didn’t even tell him to shut up from the apartments where they were trying to get a baby to fall asleep or where a grandmother was nodding off on the balcony. Nor did the “hardened” militants of the Communist Party show up to combat that phrase, which was more rebellious than any opposition slogan.

“I buy food!” he repeated, and the silence of the neighborhood spoke without uttering a word. From the silence that came out of the houses a clear answer could be extracted: “We don’t have any!”


COLLABORATE WITH OUR WORK: The 14ymedio team is committed to practicing serious journalism that reflects Cuba’s reality in all its depth. Thank you for joining us on this long journey. We invite you to continue supporting us by becoming a member of 14ymedio now. Together we can continue transforming journalism in Cuba.

Cuba: 11J (July 11th), the Day We Swallowed Our Fear

A group of demonstrators in Havana during the protests on July 11, 2021. (Marcos Evora)
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14ymedio, Yoani Sánchez, Generation Y, Havana, 11 July 2022 — No one foresaw it, no analyst included it in their forecasts, and even the most optimistic had put aside, years ago, the possibility of a popular protest in Cuba. “People have gotten used to it,” “young people prefer to jump into the sea than to demonstrate in a plaza,” “their civic-mindedness has been amputated,” “they have become meek and docile,” were some of the phrases repeated to us from all sides, but the day of 11 July 2021 was enough to destroy all those diagnoses that made us seem like a people unable to raise our voices.

That Sunday morning, the spark did not even catch fire in the two largest cities in the country, but in the streets of San Antonio de los Baños, in the province of Artemisa, a community that until then we associated in our minds with the Ariguanabo River, a good-humored town with its international film school and long blackouts. The first images of the popular outrage reached us through Facebook and Twitter, but our own skepticism dampened the enthusiasm and many of us thought that it was just something momentary and small.

Then the demand spread through Palma Soriano in Santiago de Cuba, Cárdenas in Matanzas, different points of Havana and many other regions. What no one had predicted was happening. For many, that was one of the most important days of their lives, to the point that everyone on this Island remembers what we were doing when the demonstrations began. Like the day a child is born to us, a parent dies or a natural catastrophe occurs, 11J has left a mark on our lives.

And then came the repression pushed and propelled by Miguel Díaz-Canel and the “combat order” that he issued before the cameras of national television, a summons that could one day take him before a court to be tried for inciting violence and launching the military against unarmed people. Not only did we see the uniformed officers viciously beat young people and teenagers, but also the official press – which had initially been left without a script and did not know how to react to the people in the streets – begin to try to create a different story, one parallel to the reality.

In that narrative, dictated by the Plaza de la Revolución, the protests were small, violent, carried out by criminals, vandals and the marginalized. To impose this fiction they appealed to the monopoly of television, radio and printed newspapers, but the truth of 11J had already crept into the retinas of millions of people thanks to social networks and the independent press. In the images that came out of hundreds and thousands of mobile phones, we can see a citizenry that once again, after being gagged for decades, proves its civic voice. It was the day we swallowed our fear, chewed it for a long time and realized that we, the dissatisfied, greatly outnumbered the repressors.

After those bright hours, in which the protests showed their libertarian and massive character, the long night of repression arrived, and we continue under it now. But it is enough to remember that Sunday last summer to conclude that Cubans are no longer the same. We have shouted in the streets, we have chanted freedom and we have shown the world that we are neither cowards nor bowed down, just that a calculated dictatorship has prevented us from taking our places for a long time. The next outbreak will also be neither announced nor predictable, but it may be the last time the regime can crush the unrest and respond with punches, gunshots and trials. On 11J we also learned that fear changed sides.


Editor’s Note: This text was originally published in DW in Spanish.


COLLABORATE WITH OUR WORK: The 14ymedio team is committed to practicing serious journalism that reflects Cuba’s reality in all its depth. Thank you for joining us on this long journey. We invite you to continue supporting us by becoming a member of 14ymedio now. Together we can continue transforming journalism in Cuba.

The De-balconization of Havana

Unlike the German city of Berlin, the de-balconization that Havana has been suffering has not been due to the projectiles of war. (14ymedio)
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14ymedio, Yoani Sánchez, Generation Y, Havana, 18 June 2022 — A German academic was especially happy when his friends came to visit and he was able to give them an insightful tour of Berlin. The history of the gradual loss of the balconies suffered by the area of ​​the city that had come under communist control after the Second World War was never missing in those journeys. The impact of the bombs during the conflict, the tendency to wall up those parts of the building instead of rebuilding them when peace came, and a socialist architecture more oriented towards the practical than the beautiful, led to the “de-balconization” of the GDR capital.

After recounting everything that happened in great detail, the German professor pronounced that peculiar concept in his own language. After a breath, he began to detail how after the fall of the Berlin Wall the reverse process began, the “re-balconization” of the city. At that moment, he made a stop and confirmed that it was only when he explained that architectural detail of his country’s history that he could use that word. On no other occasion did that term pass his hips, hence he was doubly grateful to his patient listeners for the opportunity to shake up his vocabulary.

Unlike the German city, the de-balconization that Havana has been suffering has not been due to the projectiles of war. Laziness, lack of maintenance and the material indigence of the owners of many buildings have caused this architectural element to be lost between collapses, cracks and shoring. It is becoming more and more common to see facades with exposed pieces of steel that once supported a beautiful terrace projecting outwards.

The Cuban capital has lost its balconies, but it has also been losing its cornices and the flowery capitals of many columns. (14ymedio)

But missing are not only the hundreds (perhaps thousands) of balconies that have fallen onto the streets, and onto the heads of passers-by or the lower floor apartments, but many others are closed or never used due to the inhabitants’ fear that they will collapse if someone peeks out through them. What was once an element of entertainment and pleasure for the dwellers of the home and a treat for the eyes of pedestrians, is now a cause for widespread panic. People fear these vantage points pierced by cracks, moisture and mold.

The Cuban capital has lost its balconies, but it has also been losing its cornices and the flowery capitals of many columns. In streets where before you could walk without leaving the covered portals, now the route is interrupted by the collapse of the roofs that force you to get off the sidewalk and continue on a zigzagging route. To this we must add that most of the buildings that were built during the Soviet subsidy period dispensed with that detail so important in a tropical country, a balcony. Gray walls, small windows and not even an area to hang clothes is the harsh reality experienced in most of these post-Revolution concrete blocks.

I dream of the day when my academic friend visits Havana again and this  whole nightmare of deterioration is just a bad memory from the past. I will surely explain to him how democracy not only meant being able to say what you think without being punished, but also promoted the construction of houses, attracting back to the country so many talented émigré architects who designed cooler houses that take better advantage of the maritime breeze, and at the same time do not make their inhabitants feel as if they were locked in a matchbox. At that moment, I am going to enjoy telling him that the re-balconization of the city where I was born has already begun. It will possibly be one of the few times that I will be able to pronounce that word.


COLLABORATE WITH OUR WORK: The 14ymedio team is committed to practicing serious journalism that reflects Cuba’s reality in all its depth. Thank you for joining us on this long journey. We invite you to continue supporting us by becoming a member of 14ymedio now. Together we can continue transforming journalism in Cuba.

In Havana, It is Not Two Men Who Are Judged, But a Symbol

Otero Alcántara and Maykel Castillo in Havana, when they were still free. (Anamely Ramos)
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14ymedio, Yoani Sánchez, Generation Y, 31 May 2022 — The last Monday of May dawned cloudy and humid in Havana. However, it was not the possibility of a shower or the difficulties of getting around in a city paralyzed by the fuel crisis that were the main features of the day. In the Court of Marianao, a neighborhood in the western part of the Cuban capital, a trial is taking place that thousands of eyes are watching. The artist Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara and the rapper Maykel Castillo Osorbo are the accused.

Although in recent months oral hearings against those who participated in the popular demonstrations of last July, or to sentence citizens who show their disagreement on social networks have become common, this week’s process marks a climax of repression in the country. Otero Alcántara is being tried, among other crimes, for placing the Cuban flag on his body for days, in an artistic action that has annoyed a ruling party that hijacked the national emblems for its particular ideological and partisan crusade.

For his part, Osorbo is blamed for having insulted the figure of the ruler Miguel Díaz-Canel and for holding Prime Minister Manuel Marrero responsible for the lack of supplies in hospitals. Both accusations, with a prosecutor’s request for seven and ten years respectively, would hardly carry a small fine in democratic nations or, simply, would not constitute a crime under a rule of law. But the two artists have been in jail for long months and are only now being brought before a court, whose ruling is governed more by the whims of a group in power than by the rigors of justice.

To avoid showing solidarity with the defendants, the surroundings of the Court woke up under a strong police and security services operation, the telephone lines and Internet access of innumerable activists and independent journalists were cut, and an intense campaign of demonization was deployed on social networks to try to counter any show of support for Otero Alcántara and Osorbo. But the effect of this offensive seems to be just the opposite of what the regime is seeking: people who were not aware of the trial have found out after inquiring about the many uniformed men they have seen in that part of the city, and the insistence on defining them as “criminals” in the official media has aroused more sympathy than rejection.

In the hands of Castroism — like a hot potato that burns if held between the fingers and ridicules if it is dropped — are the lives of two young people who represent the failure of a system. Coming from a humble neighborhood, both were supposed to blindly embrace the political model established in the country more than six decades ago because, according to official propaganda, they are part of the sectors most favored by the Revolution. But instead of that, Otero Alcántara and Osorbo have denounced the lies and arbitrariness of the leaders in olive green, the poverty of their neighborhood of San Isidro and police impunity.

By arresting and judging them, the Cuban system itself is showing that it only accepts total obedience from citizens, never criticism or dissidence in any of its forms. It has turned them into a banner of the fragility of a citizenry that has been cut off from all peaceful paths to change the status quo.

In the next few days the sentence against the two artists will be known. It is very likely that they are sentences designed to send an exemplary message to the rest of the population. But the Cuban regime has already lost this battle, it can lock up their bodies for years but it will not be able to put behind bars the symbol they have become.


Editorial Note: This text was originally published in Deutsche Welle in Spanish.


COLLABORATE WITH OUR WORK: The 14ymedio team is committed to practicing serious journalism that reflects Cuba’s reality in all its depth. Thank you for joining us on this long journey. We invite you to continue supporting us by becoming a member of 14ymedio now. Together we can continue transforming journalism in Cuba.

The Quadruplets Have a Birthday

Two plumeria rubra plants, common name frangipani, in the editorial office of the newspaper ’14ymedio’.
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14ymedio, Yoani Sanchéz, Generation Y, 21 May 2022 — I have made some vital decisions that fill me with pride. The list would be very long but here I leave some of the most important on this day to remember one of them:

  • At age 16: Choose a humanities degree despite also having a strong attraction to Physics.
  • At 17: Meet a “crazy and long-haired” journalist named Reinaldo Escobar, and go live with him.
  • At 19: Give birth to Teo, although most of my friends and acquaintances told me that it was too early to be a mother.
  • At 26: Emigrate and taste the pleasant taste of freedom.
  • At 28: Return to my country and, against all odds, raise my critical voice within the island’s borders.
  • At 31: Write the first post of my Generation Y blog.
  • At 38: Found the newspaper 14ymedio.
  • At 43: Inaugurate the Cafecito informativo podcast.

Today our “quadruplets” are turning eight. This is what we say, in the privacy of the home, to the newspaper 14ymedio, because since it was born, on May 21, 2014, there has been no early morning in peace in this house, and when the news “screams” all rest is over. Our lives have come to be at the mercy of news emergencies, the ups and downs of reality and the vertigo of a newsroom.

Nothing to regret, I cannot imagine a better existence.

This is the eighth month of May in which I blow out the candles of this newspaper and in which I am grateful to be surrounded by excellent reporters, essential journalists and sharp editors.

Family, being with you is one of the best decisions of my life. I have no doubt.


COLLABORATE WITH OUR WORK: The 14ymedio team is committed to practicing serious journalism that reflects Cuba’s reality in all its depth. Thank you for joining us on this long journey. We invite you to continue supporting us by becoming a member of 14ymedio now. Together we can continue transforming journalism in Cuba.

Cuba: A Penal Code to Bind Us All

Under the new Constitution, journalism not controlled by the Cuban Communist Party faces a demonizing of the access to funds from international organizations. (14ymedio)
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14ymedio, Yoani Sánchez, Generation Y, Havana, 17 May 2022 — The new Cuban Penal Code, recently approved by the National Assembly and which will enter into force in the coming days, is a detailed compendium of the main fears of the ruling party. Like any authoritarian model, the island’s regime is forced to break down each prohibition and enumerate all the punishments, trying to anticipate even the new forms of confrontation and rejection that may arise from the citizenry.

When reading between the lines of the new regulations, and separating what it inherits from the previous Code in terms of penalizing common crimes, the great panics that keep Cuban leaders awake at night emerge. The independent press, activism, popular protests in the style of the one that occurred on July 11 (11J), and the possibility that individuals unite in initiatives to revoke the economic political system, these are at the center of the tremors that run through the Plaza of the Revolution.

Journalism not controlled by the Communist Party of Cuba (PCC) bears one of the worst parts of this new legislation, which further demonizes the access of the independent press to funds and resources from international organizations and foundations. In a country where a group of men uses the public coffers at will to support their media of ideological propaganda, those same individuals try to cut off any financial oxygen that allows the existence of newspapers or magazines that annoy power. Only the PCC can carry out the exercise of content dissemination, under supervision and with censorship’s scissors ready to cut everything that does not benefit the Party.

However, the current twist already had its antecedents in the Gag Law for which 75 dissidents went to jail in the Black Spring of 2003 and which has never been repealed. So it can be interpreted more as an update to the new realities than the beginning of an unprecedented raid against the free flow of news. The growing popularity of information portals managed by independent journalists has put in check a dictatorship that, for decades, ruled from secrecy and absolute control of information dissemination.

Something similar occurs with article 120.1 of the new Code, which penalizes anyone who “arbitrarily exercises any right or freedom recognized in the Constitution of the Republic and endangers the constitutional order.” As in the Constitution the PCC is considered the superior force and leader of society; trying to change that and erect another alternative will result in a serious, very serious crime. However, a similar straitjacket already existed with the popularly called “constitutional mummification” which, without meeting the requirements of a referendum where voters were asked their position in favor or against the proposal, was imposed in 2002.

In short, if much of what is penalized in this legislation was already prohibited, in one way or another, in decrees, regulations and resolutions, it is worth asking the reasons for reinforcing this veto and expanding the punishments in the new Code. Everything indicates that it is a victory for the forces of immobility; we are facing the image of those bridges, the ones dynamited by the most retrograde to prevent democratic change from coming from within the Island, from springing up from ordinary people. This is, in reality, a glossary of the terrors of Castroism and its desperate attempts to stop what will come no matter what.

The Penal Code designed to bind us all points to the fact that it has been drafted by a system sunk in mistrust of society and in fear of the future.


Editorial Note: This text was originally published in Deutsche Welle in Spanish.


COLLABORATE WITH OUR WORK: The 14ymedio team is committed to practicing serious journalism that reflects Cuba’s reality in all its depth. Thank you for joining us on this long journey. We invite you to continue supporting us by becoming a member of 14ymedio now. Together we can continue transforming journalism in Cuba.

Press and Responsibility in the Face of Tragedy

The cloud of smoke from the explosion at the Saratoga Hotel was visible from the Plaza of the Revolution municipality. (14ymedio)
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14ymedio, Yoani Sánchez, Generation Y, 7 May 2022 — It sounded like thunder, but when I looked out from the balcony, the sky was clear. I scanned the city with my eyes and a huge mountain of smoke was rising in the area of ​​Old Havana. Instinctively I looked at the clock, it was 10:52 on the morning of Friday, May 6. We didn’t know what had happened, but it was serious. In the Editorial Office of 14ymedio we quickly wrote the first journalistic note that warned the world that an explosion had shaken Havana. We initially thought it was in the area around Havana Bay.

A few minutes later the first images arrived and our reporters approached the place. The event was taking shape: the Saratoga Hotel was enveloped in a cloud of dust and the surroundings were full of debris. People took pictures with their mobiles and reported from the vicinity of the building which, until recently, was an architectural beauty that adorned the city and now had been reduced to a jumble of iron and ruins. For almost an hour the official press did not react.

Citizen journalism and the independent media negotiated those long minutes very responsibly. Despite the bomb and sabotage rumors circulating in the streets, my colleagues kept a professional pulse and tried to check every sentence published. It was difficult, because when the official newspapers began to publish about the incident, they often mixed facts with speculation, truth with lies. The biggest hoaxes were from the account of the portals controlled by the Communist Party.

The television coverage was nefarious. Unprepared announcers who improvised by confusing the Saratoga Hotel with the Capitol building, who pronounced someone “dead” just by watching screen as they removed a body on a stretcher, as if they were doctors who can determine who is alive and who is not. And ideology everywhere, trying to kidnap human solidarity, painting as partisan the support that people gave to the most suffering.

To make matters worse, Miguel Díaz-Canel did not miss the opportunity in front of the microphones to attack the independent media, which he accuses of spreading rumors and lying about what happened. Instead of making a speech based on the harmony and unity that tragedy brings, he preferred to use the moment of pain for his old battle against dissidence. The mediocre man that he is once again demonstrated that he does not have one iota of the greatness of a statesman.

Without our work and that of so many citizens who reported from the place, the news would have taken much longer to be known and solidarity would have been delayed for a time that was vital for the victims. Accusing the press is a vile act of politicking in the midst of tragedy, an attempt to use emotions to denigrate journalists.

We would have preferred, of course, that this Friday morning, the news that shook us and forced us to work almost 24 hours straight would have been happy and hopeful. But in the face of the catastrophe, our journalistic policy is transparency, professionalism and respect for those who suffer, without being moved at all by the vanity of having a scoop.

Make no mistake, Díaz-Canel, the independent press has been essential in the first hours of this unfortunate event. Without admitting it, you read us, copied us and even took entire sentences from our articles. While the mouths from outside insulted us, inside their air-conditioned offices they completed many of the details of this drama through us.

We offer out condolences and we accompany those who have lost a loved one, who have a family member fighting for life in a hospital or who are still trapped under the rubble. Know that we will not rest in our journalistic duty until we publish every detail about what happened, we will insist on a transparent investigation without political manipulation. We will be, as always, on the side of the victims.


COLLABORATE WITH OUR WORK: The 14ymedio team is committed to practicing serious journalism that reflects Cuba’s reality in all its depth. Thank you for joining us on this long journey. We invite you to continue supporting us by becoming a member of 14ymedio now. Together we can continue transforming journalism in Cuba.

The Blue Bird Enters a New Stage. Fly or Fall?

Stock image of the Twitter logo. (EFE/EPA/JUSTIN LANE)
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14ymedio, Yoani Sánchez, Generation Y, Havana, 30 April 2022 — Will it fly higher or crash to the ground? The question about the future of Twitter had been around us for some time, but after the announcement that Elon Musk bought the social network for approximately 44, billion dollars, the question has gained strength. It is not only a virtual space for celebrities and politicians, but it is also the loudspeaker and protective shield of thousands of activists and journalists in the world.

I have had an account on the blue bird for 14 years, I joined in the summer of 2008 when Jack Dorsey’s legendary tweet, in which he wrote “Just setting up my twttr,” was revered as the initial branch of a nest that could shelter us all. Since then, first with 140 characters and later with the current 280, its trill has saved me from some horrors and has helped me tell the story of my country.

The first time that the official Cuban press mentioned Twitter, it defined it as “a technology created by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA, for its acronym in English).” As with any new phenomenon, the propagandists of Castroism opened fire against something they did not understand but believed to be ephemeral. Their rejection on the one hand and the need for independent activists and journalists to have an immediate publication tool, on the other, marked the flight over the Island of those blue wings.

Twitter had an anti-establishment character from the initial moments when it began to be used by Cubans. When the Plaza de la Revolución understood its true scope, the opposition groups, the alternative media and the most critical citizens had been posting tweets for months or years. Then the Communist Party of the Island also landed in the network it had renounced until recently.

That arrival of the official hosts to the network was marked by slogans repeated with formality and zero spontaneity, the creation of bots that were dedicated to harassing dissidents, and the provisioning of an entire army of cyber police officers who supervised who crossed the line with criticism of the government. Such practices have been detected by the San Francisco giant, which has frequently responded with suspensions of fake accounts and other reprimands for official threats against defenseless citizens.

The story I just told is repeated in almost any country under an authoritarian regime, with some extreme examples like China, where Twitter can hardly say a peep due to the ironclad censorship prevailing in the Asian nation. Other dictatorships, moreover, have gone from initial rejection to an attempt to use the service for their propaganda and intimidation purposes. With the new change of owner of the company, the big question is whether it will be easier for these tyrannical models to achieve their goal or, on the contrary, they will not be able to continue with their dirty digital tricks.

The richest man in the world now faces a challenge. He has promised that he will make Twitter a “better than ever” space for freedom of expression, but he has acquired the virtual world inhabited by more than 300 million identities, many real and a good part apocryphal or declared fictitious. Beyond celebrities, billionaires and presidents, the question that the most vulnerable users have is whether the blue bird will continue to carry our voice far: to the heights where a short tweet can stop the coup, open the locks of a cell or prevent the coup de grace.

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This column was initially published in Deutsche Welle for Latin America.


COLLABORATE WITH OUR WORK: The 14ymedio team is committed to practicing serious journalism that reflects Cuba’s reality in all its depth. Thank you for joining us on this long journey. We invite you to continue supporting us by becoming a member of 14ymedio now. Together we can continue transforming journalism in Cuba.

Cuban Journalists: Those Who Defamed Us Run Away Without Apologizing

They leave (a decision that I personally do not question) but I continue to investigate how many lies they helped spread that cost tears, social isolation and physical pain to others. (Facebook)

14ymedio, Yoani Sánchez, Generation Y, Havana, 28 April 2022 — I wonder how many of these official journalists who are taking to their heels helped to prolong the demonization of independent reporters, contributed to silencing the voices of the media not controlled by the Communist Party (either because of their actions or because of their lack of action).

How many of them spread the idea that we were the “traitors,” the “enemies,” who had to be silenced, and then moved their mouths away from the microphone. How many looked at us over their shoulders, chewed our names with annoyance, joined the defamation campaigns against us and, now, put the sea in between us. They leave (a decision that I personally do not question) but I continue to investigate how many lies they helped spread that cost tears, social isolation and physical pain to others.

The responsibility of the journalist is not a suit that is taken off and left behind to put on another, clean of stains. The responsibility of the journalist implies knowing that the words said, the headlines circulated and the lies amplified also left victims, cut off the path for more honest people to reach the cameras, pulled the rug out from under excellent masters of information who, because they had critical ideas, were never able to stand in front of a classroom. The journalist’s responsibility leads us to wonder: These official reporters who are fleeing today, how many years of ‘survival’ did they give the dictatorship?

Questions that I ask myself. From here, from Havana.

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COLLABORATE WITH OUR WORK: The 14ymedio team is committed to practicing serious journalism that reflects Cuba’s reality in all its depth. Thank you for joining us on this long journey. We invite you to continue supporting us by becoming a member of 14ymedio now. Together we can continue transforming journalism in Cuba.