14ymedio, Yoani Sanchez, Havana, 11 November 2020 — I have a friend who only found out about the fall of the Berlin Wall at a meeting of the Communist Party core at the state institute where he was then working then. The official press had barely published a brief note on its inside pages in which it reported on the “opening of the GDR border,” but without giving details of what happened or its profound political implications. The collapse of the barrier was only made known to a few of the chosen in the weeks after that November 9, 1989, but even for them the news came wrapped with all kinds of misrepresentations and disguises.
Today, 31 years later, a scar remains from the Berlin Wall that can still be seen on the asphalt of that city, some pieces still stand as a reminder, and an extensive profusion of testimonies, analyses and investigations of those days that redefined the face of Europe and the rest of the world. But the stubborn official Cuban press continues to hide that fact and avoids alluding to the event. It is not surprising that the state newspaper Granma has dedicated space these days to the anniversary of the October Revolution but has conveniently forgotten the end of the “sister German Democratic Republic.”
Castroism has always believed that through words it can change reality, girded in its slogans and its silences
Castroism has always believed that through words it can change reality, girded in its slogans and its silences. “If it is not mentioned, it is because it does not exist,” seems to be one of the most deeply-rooted editorial maxims in the Communist Party-controlled media. As if by silencing an event or sweeping it under the rug they also managed to erase its protagonists, its anecdotes and its repercussions. Under the same premise, to this day the national newspapers have not talked about Stalin’s crimes, have not published reports of Pol Pot’s massacres or alluded to the events in Tiananmen Square.
Thus, year after year, many Cubans review the national newspapers in search of any allusion to the fall of the Berlin Wall as a way of proving that the news veto over that event remains intact and how little progress official journalism has been made in these three decades. And every November, since that far off 1989, we once again verify that the steel curtain of censorship remains in place on this island.
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