Fleeing from Wise Monkeys / Ivan Garcia

I am not given to interviews. Nor do I like them. Ninety percent of the time I turn down requests for them. A journalist’s role is to question, investigate, analyze and write. What I like about print journalism is the anonymity. Information, news, reporting or chronicling are what matter. Not the author.

I am caught between two currents. Government media outlets have accused me of being “counterrevolutionary.” Just like that, nothing more. I have never visited the United States Interest Section in Havana and I do not connect to the internet at an embassy. I swear it is not because of some neurosis. It is that I am disgusted by diplomats’ tendency towards flattery.

I pay 15 CUC out of my own pocket for two hours of time and once a week I go online from a Havana hotel. My first priority is to send my dispatches and, if time permits, I read online journals in Spanish and copy some texts, usually sports stories and world news.

The internet connection in Cuba is slow and the minutes remaining do not leave enough time to read emails or to visit Facebook, Twitter or Linkedin.

I would like to be able to read more blogs by renowned journalists from major media outlets directly, but I have to make do with links my mother sends to my email address. Once a week I copy them on USB’s, and later calmly open and read the articles on my laptop at home.

A news story captures the reality of the person writing it. No matter how much one may try to be balanced and objective, the article always somewhat reflects the journalist’s views.

I flee from wise monkeys, those whose egos are so big they often keep two beds in their rooms—one for themselves and one for their egos. No blog can completely capture the complex Cuban experience.

There are hookers, male prostitutes and gays disgusted by the economic inefficiency of the government. There are also people who believe in socialism and are confident that Raúl Castro’s reforms will work. Whatever beliefs one has, they should not be an impediment to dialog and the possibility of building bridges.

I like to write about losers. Or winners who are about to become losers. We are all Cubans. We do not all have to think the same way, nor should we. That would be very boring. When the government understands that it cannot govern only for the benefit its supporters, it will grow strong.

Some accuse me of being very critical of the dissidents. Once I described them as “banana dissidents,” which made me a countless number of “enemies.” They did not shoot me because they couldn’t. Instead they chose to accuse me of being a “security agent” and other such nonsense. For its part the government writes me off as a “mercenary.” This is the price one pays for having one’s own standards. I am a bothersome journalist.

But I do not see why people who think differently cannot have a civil discussion. We must stop gritting our teeth and clenching our fists and learn how to accept our differences. It is very easy to accuse and defame. It would be healthy to erase all these human miseries and distrusting attitudes.

The future of Cuba will be decided in ten years time. Perhaps less. All Cubans, whatever our beliefs, should put forth our best efforts to change and improve society. When we learn to say “I do not agree with you” instead of the more typical “you are mistaken,” we will grow as a nation.

Photo: Wooden sculpture of the three wise monkeys by Hidari Jingoro (1594-1634) at the Toshogu shrine, Nikko, Japan

September 26 2012