An Opportune Difference Between Cuba and Venezuela / Angel Santiesteban

Thanks to the god of the communication media, in Venezuela the national and foreign TV hasn’t been sold to Chavismo, and they report on events immediately, without concern for reprisals.

In Cuba we face another reality. The foreign broadcasters (independent national stations don’t exist), rarely look behind the news that would harm the government, that would immediately put an end to the long vacations they take in the archipelago living in five-star hotels.

The times I accompanied the Ladies in White, I never saw a TV reporter, knowing that in some way, their being there would protect them from the arrests and abuse. If they did their duty, the images of our events would speak for themselves, and the activists would risk more. But in most cases, we suffer the beatings and they arrest us without leaving any witnesses to defend us, save those times when the opposition itself can record it and upload it to the Internet.

Before entering prison, the only media based in the island that came to me was the Associated Press (AP) via Andrea Rodríguez, their correspondent. All the opposition advised me not to grant her an interview, branded her as a Cuban security agent, used to misrepresent the evidence, and to manipulate the news to favor the communist government and harm the opposition.

But I agreed anyway because I am someone who has nothing to hide and does not avoid talking, and I fell into the trap. The news was delivered my version amputated in a ghost article, obviously official, of one of those writers who then signed the letters against me in Cuban Writers and Artists Union (UNEAC). The author, who also refused to give her name and the reporter respected that — put my words in doubt and as much as possible gave the official version.

Following that, I had an exchange with the reporter and told her I understood she was hardly ethical if she gave my testimony with my name, and then sought people who doubted my word and refused to give theirs, staying in the shade, because that position was not transparent.

Later I learned that this “journalist” is married to a former official from the political police. It doesn’t matter how far certain commentaries goe if they lack impartiality.

The opposition lacks media coverage before the world in terms of real and direct news, and this marks the great different with the rest of the countries which, in recent years, have had large social movements.

We need journalists to accompany us in this war against the dictatorship.

Ángel Santiesteban-Prats

Lawton Prison Settlement. March 2014

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31 March 2014