Cuba’s Foreign Minister Defends Putin’s Press While Censoring ’14ymedio’

Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez during the press conference for foreign media after the July 11th (11J) demonstrations, in Havana. (Screen capture)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Yoani Sánchez, Havana, 3 March 2022 — If Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez had any shame left, he would submit his resignation. A few days before the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the foreign minister claimed that the warnings about a possible conflict were only part of “propaganda hysteria” in the West. Now, he comes out in defense of several Russian media outlets whose transmissions have been cut in numerous countries and he does so in the name of freedom of the press, the same thing that is persecuted on this Island.

For less than that, a resignation would be knocking on the doors of a public official anywhere in the world, but Rodríguez does not occupy his position because of his talent, charisma or decency, but because of the docility and agility with which he repeats the script that others write for him. In this case, he has had to play the role of champion of information and the rights of citizens to have several news sources, and he assumes it on behalf of SputnikRussia Today and other Kremlin propaganda media, determined to narrate the war as a “special military operation” to save the Ukrainians.

In the space where hoaxes and manipulation flourish, the Cuban minister sees journalists who must be saved from censorship and denounces that “big technology companies have decided to restrict access” to the toxic news grid broadcast by these channels controlled by the Kremlin. To add to the absurdity, Rodríguez uses the social network Twitter, one of those giant companies he abhors, to launch his cynical backing at the disinformation campaigns promoted by Vladimir Putin.

If the foreign minister’s crusade were sincere, it would have to include the same demand by all the independent media censored on Cuban servers, such as 14ymedio and many others; an exhortation for the immediate release of Yoan de la Cruz, who broadcast the first protests in San Antonio de los Baños on July 11th (11J) through Facebook with his mobile phone, and an energetic demand for the Cuban authorities to eliminate the prohibition on traveling outside the country* that weighs on so many reporters.

If these declarations by Rodríguez were not “pure theater,” as the popular song says, the minister would be in front of the International Press Center right now raising his voice so that the blackmail and pressure against foreign correspondents based on the island would cease. They would also be notably present in the Ministry of Justice, provincial courts, and police stations every time a citizen was questioned by State Security, fined, or had their technological devices confiscated for spreading news that the regime did not like.

Not to mention the activism that the face of Cuban diplomacy could display to promote legislation that allows and safeguards the existence of media outlets that are not subordinate to the Communist Party of Cuba; to promote their essential participation in campaigns that protect the journalistic union from abuses and repressions; and the fiery diatribe that he would pronounce in front of the microphones demanding the right for the audience to be able to choose which newspaper to read, which channel to tune in to or which radio program to listen to.

Bruno Rodríguez should do all this and more to bring his compatriots closer to the freedom of the press that he demands so much for others. But his tantrums, we already know, are designed for an outdoor setting, where he plays the character of the democratic chancellor who can’t sleep every time a journalist is silenced. His statements are not written to reach our ears, but to ingratiate himself with Putin and to annoy Europe and the United States.

He doesn’t even care about us. In his eyes we do not deserve access to another speech that is not his… the one that someone writes behind the curtain.

*Translator’s note: The term the Cuban government uses to describe those they have forbidden to travel is “regulated”.


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