The Ordeal of the Independent Journalist / Cubanet, Jorge Olivera Castillo

Ernesto Perez Chang, writer and journalist CubaNet (Internet photo)
Ernesto Perez Chang, writer and journalist CubaNet (Internet photo)

cubanet square logoCubanet, Jorge Olivera Castillo, Havana – The sensation that the Cuban regime is counting on a kind of blank check to carry out its abuses is increasingly apparent.

The monthly reports of the Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation (CCDHRN), which expose to the world the repressive actions of the political police against pro-democracy activists, are ignored by the majority of international organizations responsible for monitoring this topic, flashing past their computer screed and being archived as soon as they read the headlines.

It is logical, before the avalanche of events that anyone with a minimum of responsibility would classify as cruel, inhumane and degrading, without the intervention of censorship which contributes to its relevance. Month after month the arbitrary and violent arrests are repeated, the acts of repudiation that often include vandalism, and the drama of the political prisoners whose incarceration exposes them to a major dose of arbitrariness. The international interest in the face of these episodes is markedly declining, fortunately always with exceptions, which to some extent helps the issue from disappearing from some agendas.

A method within the scientific repression applied by the Ministry of the Interior in its effort to prevent the growth of protest movements, are its veiled threats, blackmail, and covert actions that end with the loss of a job, or the impediment to occupy a certain place, all lined up against the friends and family members of the “counterrevolutuionary.”

In this jurisdiction of State terrorism we now find the writer Ernesto Perez Chang who decided to inscribe himself on the roll of independent journalists. It is only the beginning of his ordeal. He knows it and assures that he will not go back on his decision. Something truly meritorious in the scenario that demands the complex and inexorable combination of talent and courage.

His work leaves no room for doubts. Along with his pedigree as an excellent storyteller, he has exhibited in his still short journey in the unofficial press, his gifts for reporting and background. Without pretensions of turning myself into the bird of ill omen, nor to assume pedagogical poses, I would suggest not underestimating the capacity of the common adversary to do him harm, with its lack of scruples and determination to take the most misconceived reprisals.

I say is with knowledge of the cause. In the blink of an eye, I was arrested on 18 March 2003 and one month later I was sentenced to 18 years in prison for writing outside the established lines. It is often alleged that times have changed, but the criminal nature of the Power has not. Prison may be used as a last resort corrective, but the manual of the G-2 political police agents overflows with “persuasive” tactics.

Before concluding I reiterate my support for a colleague who had the courage to jump the barriers of fear and censorship. It doesn’t matter when he did it, what matters is that we are sharing a necessary and enriching and spiritual experience. Hopefully other government writers will decide to take off their masks and start to publish in the pages available to them to write with objectivity and transparency. That have nothing to do with obeisance to illegitimate and excluding Powers.