‘Don’t Quote Me or Publish My Face’, the Fear of Cuban Migrants

Journalism cannot be nourished only by anonymous sources, it needs people to show their faces. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Yoani Sánchez, Mexico City, 5 December 2022 — He has been in Miami for half a year, has two jobs and a suitcase full of fears. “Don’t quote me or publish any photo where you can see my face,” he says emphatically when an independent Cuban media outlet approaches him to take his testimony. He had the courage to cross the Darien jungle, to deal with coyotes and cross the Rio Grande, but when it comes to the Cuban political police, fear does not diminish despite the distance.

It is more and more frequent that a migrant from the Island refuses to appear with their name and surnames in a press report, for fear of being denied entry to their own country, when they decide to travel to visit their family and take the necessary products that will alleviate their critical economic situation. They live in a society where they can express themselves freely, choose what they eat and the newspapers they read, but when it comes to Cuba they continue to be locked behind the bars of totalitarianism.

Recently, an article we prepared for this newspaper came across the harsh reality that people who demonstrated in Florida, in the United States, against Castroism, with T-shirts that carried slogans in favor of the freedom of political prisoners and a democratic change on the Island, refused to have their testimonies appear with their names attached. The reason for that refusal is summed up in one sentence: “I am going to return to visit my family and I do not want to have problems.”

Is it their fault that they keep the mask on despite being far from those who pushed them to wear it? No. The fear that spreads among so many Cuban émigrés is nothing more than another example of the long tentacles of totalitarianism and the psychological damage that it causes. They are not cowards, but victims. But understanding them does not fix the problem. How can the vicissitudes of an exiled community be recunted if some of its members prefer to hide their faces and hide their names from a reporter? Journalism cannot be nourished only by anonymous sources, it needs people to show their faces.

The networks are full of anonymous profiles and false photos, but a country cannot be democratically transformed from behind the mask. Dispensing with the mask and vindicating an opinion with an uncovered face seems to be another of the conquests yet to be achieved. The sad thing is that we will not only have to achieve this for those who live on the Island, but also for those who reside in other countries where they should be able to behave as freer beings.


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