Covering the Sun with One Finger / Miriam Celaya

Luís Posada Carriles. Photograph taken from the Internet

In the absence of a complete chronology of the struggle for freedom of the press in Cuba, it is possible to follow, step by step, the increasing deterioration of the “national information system.” Tune in to radio and television newscasts, or browse through the newspapers which, as a rule, repeat misinformation or misrepresentations of what happens in the world. This emphasizes, in uppercase, all that is omitted, and with it, the lack of freedom, initiatives and opinions by industry professionals. The official “journalistic” activity on the island is now an occupation lacking in veracity, dignity or in the minimum decorum, with very few exceptions. And it must be really hard to serve a master as deceitful as the Cuban government while maintaining respect for a profession that is as old as it is necessary in a globalized world at the height of the age of the Internet.

Examples to support what I’m stating abound, but one of the most typical is being created right now. This past January 10th all the nation’s media announced the start of the trial in the United States against Luis Posada Carriles on charges of fraud, obstruction of justice, perjury and false statements, “despite his long history of terrorism against Cuba.” That day, the Round Table TV talk show was also devoted to this conspicuous character (on that occasion, the TV evening ritual was titled Posada Carriles and the Route of Terror, and it had two parts, aired on successive days), and — if that were not enough — the Cubavisión channel aired a special evening program conveying what they usually call “new evidence” against Posada, based on the very credible testimony of a Salvadoran rumored to be a confessed terrorist, sentenced to a 30-year prison term in Cuba, whose life was spared through the generosity of revolutionary justice, (which was exemplary and inflexible with three young Cubans shot against the wall in 2003 for highjacking a passenger vessel).

At this point, I leave a personal note: I do not defend Mr. Luis Posada Carriles, nor do I condemn him until, beyond any doubt, his participation in the heinous 1976 Barbados crime is established, as well as other criminal acts he is accused of by the Cuban government. I condemn any acts of violence, mainly those that threaten innocent lives, even if they wear the make-up of any supposedly higher ideal. To blow up a civilian airliner in flight is as criminal as to down planes or to sink ships full of defenseless people, so a much longer and fuller bench is required to judge the culprits of terrorism.

Daily since its beginning, the Cuban press has reported details of the trial being held in El Paso, Texas. Posada Carriles was, once again, the media’s supreme obsession, until someone from up high was forced to react to the dust under our own rugs: alternative bloggers again, with the usual nonsense, were pointing insistently to the absence of trials in Cuba for the murders at Mazorra. So, on January 17th, a week after choking us with the terrible shortcomings of the judicial system of the enemy Empire, which continues to ignore the proverbial Cuban government impartiality, the authorities allowed its anti-informative spokesmen to issue a brief, bare-bones note announcing the beginning, that same day, of the trial “against the principals involved in the untimely death of patients” at Havana’s Psychiatric Hospital that took place the previous year. The note closed with a significant sentence: “Once the judicial process has been concluded, the results will be made public.”

After that, Cubans have continued to learn everything about Posada Carriles’s trial that the authorities have seen fit to disclose, while the process that follows the deaths of scores of psychiatric patients in Cuba has remained a stubborn official silence, despite the impact that the crime had in people’s sensibilities at the time. Needless to mention that the transparency of the El Paso trial, with the disclosure of what happens in a U.S. court, contrasts against the murky conspiracy brewing inside the inaccessible and secret confines of a Cuban court. Management of information in Cuba, with its typical contempt for public opinion, has reached unparalleled heights of shoddiness.

Meanwhile, and in the absence of official reports, popular opinion declares that there are many obscure points in the trial being held in the capital’s Provincial Court. It is said that “all who should be there are not,” that filling the courtroom with people chosen by the authorities is not really “in public view,” that among the notable absentees from the bench of the accused is the then Minister of Health José Ramón Balaguer Cabrera, one of the darlings of the lesser Castro. It is said that, once again, a selection of scapegoats will cover responsibility for the corruption and the lack of scruples of the higher-ups. Only the naive and the morons will settle for the results of this farce.

The Cuban press, as always, is silent, but many people are not. And the national state of disbelief at the government is not the only thing, but the general discredit that employees playing a part in the media suffer in their unhappy compromise with a dictatorship doomed to extinction. Obtusely lacking common sense, they are a manifest reflection of the deceptiveness of the system, and, in the long run, as responsible as their master.

Note at closing: Today, Monday January 24th, the official press published the following information: “sentence ruling concluded in trial for the events at the Havana Psychiatric Hospital.” I suggest to readers that they visit the official website and assess the news for themselves.

January 24, 2011