English Translations of Cubans Writing From the Island
A Cuban Newspaper in Ciego de Avila, ‘Invasor’, Leaves the Fold
14ymedio, Havana, 30 December 2023 — Subject to close control, the official Cuban media have historically been fundamental instruments of revolutionary propaganda, with Granma, the official organ of the Cuban Communist Party, as the spearhead. Eppur si muove, “and yet it moves,” a phrase attributed to Galileo; somewhat far from the capital, Ciego de Ávila’s newspaper, Invasor, is the best example, although not the only one.
The newspaper has published some of the most critical articles against the Government, from its own ranks, and continues to provide valuable material that allows the independent press to work with data and statements that are impossible to access from a medium considered illegal by the regime. While it is true that it is not the only one and in the Sancti Spíritus Escambray it has its best student, the Avileño paper is the most daring in its class.
We have been observing in recent years in 14ymedio that some provincial media dare to be more critical of power than those considered national media , but the milestone was reached this October 2023 Invasor in its article Silences, respect and pending communication, in which the author, Sayli Sosa Barceló, accuses different institutions of lack of transparency, deliberate delays in responding to journalists and even rudeness to media teams that prevent the press from fulfilling its obligation to keep the public informed.
The article referred to another with similar characteristics, published in the summer by Escambray with a harsh title – Keep quiet and then inform – by the very official Dayamis Sotolongo, who cried out against the new policy of the Ministry of Tourism that forces the media through a bureaucratic mechanism to request information that, in the end, caused a delay in publications. In her own words: “Every trip in access to information is one more step towards censorship.”
The official provincial press has not only occasionally stood out for denouncing some behavior of the authorities, it has also revealed useful data to the independent press and the citizens themselves. A recent case is that of Girón, which this November broke the ban on reporting violence against women in Matanzas; and again Invasor, which in April warned the Government about the mistake it was making by allocating resources to the meager tourism and subtracting them from food; or Bohemia magazine, which just three weeks ago offered an extensive report with data on the increase in violence on the Island and how its citizens perceive it.
We have been observing in recent years that some provincial media dare more to be critical of power than those considered national media
It cannot be said, definitively, that there are legal media in Cuba that can display an editorial line contrary to the system that prevails in the country. The Constitution itself prevents it. Most of them tend to settle for attacking middle positions or company directors and rarely reach higher positions, as also happened in April in an opinion article published – once again – by Invasor in which its author, the journalist about Mario Martín Martín cried out against the mantra of voluntarism — i.e. relying on volunteers to do the work and solve problems. “The path is plagued with immobility, inertia, slowness and disdain, ‘paved’ by those who seek to repeat sterile formulas and remain static to continue plowing in the sea,” he wrote.
None of these newspapers has reached the point of questioning the State model, but the mere fact of opening a crack through which a hint of Cuban reality appears is no small thing in a country subjected to strict control of information for 60 years.
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