14ymedio, Yoani Sánchez, Havana, 21 May 2020 — This Thursday I got up before the alarm went off. There are days when it is difficult to get my body out of bed, but I popped out like a spring and immediately brewed the coffee. It is not every day that a child’s sixth birthday is celebrated, especially if the child has a cover instead of a face; in the place of the teeth, headlines grow and, similar to bones, it is supported by notes and reporting.
We are in the midst of a pandemic and there are not many resources or reasons to celebrate, but I feel that the newspaper 14ymedio, which today arrives at its sixth anniversary, has always been dealing with an emergency. We do independent journalism as an anomaly and that has prepared us – without our knowing it – for this moment of crisis. What at the time seemed to be a wall of disadvantages, helped make this medium a stubborn survivor.
The first scare that the “creature” gave us occurred on the very day of its birth, on May 21, 2014. As soon as it emerged, we found that the Cuban government had blocked our site on national servers. But since for every evil there can be found a vaccine or a remedy, we knew that readers within the Island were going to find their own ways to access our pages, through anonymous proxies or VPNs.
The “baby” had other stumbles. Threats, police summons to reporters, travel bans for several collaborators, and the intense downpour of smear campaigns on his tender skin. There were times when he could barely breathe due to lack of internet access, high connection prices, and the difficulties for editors, contributors, and editors to communicate fluently.
He had rubella, mumps, and even measles. Evils that originated not only from the repression and the lack of freedom of the press in Cuba, but also from the fear of the sources to give testimony in the face of possible reprisals, the attempts of some to turn us into the “official organ” of any trend or group and the lack of consistency in the work, which weighed down some who approached full of enthusiasm in the beginning.
The sound of the coffee maker brings me back to this Thursday. I make a bitter mug and instead of going through a box of photos of the first fallen tooth, a visit to the zoo or a blown out candle, I go through the most exciting articles. Those, with which we compel the official media to recognize a reality that had previously been swept under the rug; the first scoops; readers’ words of encouragement and criticism.
I look at the laptop screen, execute a few short clicks. I feel like I’m stitching the shirt he will wear when he goes out there to shine by himself, to defend himself and to make his own name. I’m nervous, I don’t deny it, so I take another sip of the bitter coffee to hide my anxiety. I look at it and I can detect in each of its details the work of colleagues, journalists and editors who have molded its form and personality.
There is a knock on the door and it takes me out of the mental review. It is a neighbor who comes to tell me that today is the last day to buy the eggs from the rationed market and that the line is now short. I grab my mask, run down the stairs and come back a little later with relief on my face. “Now we are going to be able to make a cake for the birthday.”
COLLABORATE WITH OUR WORK: The 14ymedio team is committed to practicing serious journalism that reflects Cuba’s reality in all its depth. Thank you for joining us on this long journey. We invite you to continue supporting us by becoming a member of 14ymedio now. Together we can continue transforming journalism in Cuba.