“Cuba Magazine” Style / Yoani Sanchez

Our apologies, we do not have subtitles for this video. Article 53 of the Cuban Constitution (referenced in the video) reads:

ARTICLE 53. Citizens have freedom of speech and of the press in keeping with the objectives of socialist society. Material conditions for the exercise of that right are provided by the fact that the press, radio, television, cinema, and other mass media are state or social property and can never be private property. This assures their use at exclusive service of the working people and in the interests of society.

Reinaldo speaks little of his time as an official journalist. When he does, it is with a mixture of frustration and relief. The first from his responsibility for the fabrication of so many stereotypes, and the second because by expelling him from the newspaper Juventud Rebelde (Rebel Youth) they turned him into a free man. Cuba International Magazine holds a prominent place in his memories, as he worked there for almost fifteen years.

In our house we have created an entire category of news with the name of this publication. When a provincial correspondent speaks on TV of the marvels of a battery factory — without mentioning how many are actually being produced — we watch, laugh, and say to ourselves: “This is in the worst style of Cuba Magazine.” If there is an article in the press presenting the life of a small provincial town through rose-colored glasses, we connect this, as well, with the editorial approach that has done and is doing so much damage.

Mayerín, unlike Reinaldo, just graduated from the Faculty of Social Communication. Sometimes he calls from a public pay phone to tell me about his latest article on a digital site he collaborates on. “Did you see,” he asks me, “what I managed to slip in in the third line of the second paragraph?” So I go check my reporter friend’s daring and find that instead of writing “our beloved and invincible Commander-in-Chief,” he has simply put “Fidel Castro.” Keep up your daring work!

Several generations of information professionals have had to approach their work through censorship, ideological propaganda and the applause of power. Sugarcoating reality, using national media as a showcase for false achievements and filling newspapers with a doctored and distorted Cuba, these are some of the evils of our national press. If these deformations leave a sour taste the mouths of readers and television viewers, the effect is even worse on the journalists themselves.

The informants end up prostituting their words to stay out of trouble or to earn certain privileges, and the social prestige of the reporter plummets and the press becomes an instrument of political domination. For this informant, who as a child dreamed of uncovering some scandal or investigating an event to its ultimate consequences, all he is left with is folding or breaking down the door, continuing to put make-up on reality, or being declared a “non-journalist” by the government.

6 February 2014