The Speck in Our Own Eye / Oscar Espinosa Chepe

“Lady of Support” to the Ladies in White Sonia Garro Alfonso, after being beaten by the Castro regime police.

For years it has been the practice of totalitarianism to try to divert attention from the complicated situation that exists in Cuba by showing the problems that exist in other countries, often exaggerating them to make people believe our own are not that serious. This is done by taking advantage of the disinformation possible through a strict monopoly on the media.

Recently, with increasing economic, social, environmental and demographic hardships, and the loss of human values, this misleading conduct has increased. It’s an unusual day when the newspapers, TV and radio don’t emphasize the problems elsewhere such as high levels of unemployment in Europe and other places and the size of the prison population in the United States, when the misery and marginality in Cuba are much higher and this island is one of the six places in the world with the highest number of prisoners per capita, consisting mainly of young people — the famous New Man! — those of mixed race and blacks, who face the greatest socio-economic problems and so are forced into crime.

With the greatest desire for misrepresentation, on July 2 the newspaper Granma had a front page article highlighting the increase of 350 cases of hate crimes in Sweden in 2011 over 2010. Most of these crimes were verbal threats and physical violence against homosexuals, the newspaper said. Swedish law is very severe with regards to these acts of racial and gender discrimination, which are classified as hate crimes.

In this country there are many abuses committed against people of certain social groups, races, gender, gender identity or sexual orientation, religion, ethnicity, nationality or political affiliation.

In Cuba no information is provided about such crimes, although just for having different political preferences from the Government makes a person a third-class citizen, and they are discriminated against socially, monitored and constantly harassed by the political police, the Committees for the Defense of the Revolution, and informers, and can even become victims of “acts of repudiation” with insults and even physical aggression, with no consequences for those who commit these despicable actions.

It is really alarming, therefore, that the Cuban press, instead of reporting on these outrages, lends itself to defaming Sweden, the country with the highest level of equality on the planet, with a Gini index of 25.0 for 2000-2011, according to the 2011 Human Development Report prepared by the United Nations Development Program.

Similarly, the other Northern European nations — Norway, Holland, Denmark, Finland — enjoy the world’s highest living standards, combining a broad political democracy with measures of social protection — the social safety net — recognized as the highest and most humane, providing a reference point for all governments and people in the world.

Of course the government does not publish Cuba’s Gini index, as several Latin American nations do. But it’s obvious that income differences are considerable and do not respond to the labor output of the citizens, but the luck of having family and friends abroad, political ties that lead to work abroad, and to the results of semi-legal or illegal activities.

Moreover, the policy of concealing the terrible conditions of life exists in Cuba’s allies, such as North Korea and Iran, where all the rights of the population are violated, particularly those of women; in Iran for example women can be sentenced to be stoned to death for marital infidelity.

The government also hides issues like the terrible personal safety situation in Venezuela, which with Hugo Chavez’s policies has become one of the most dangerous countries on the planet. In 1998, just before Chavez came to power, that South American nation had 19 homicides for every 100,000 people, an index that rose to 75 in 2009, according to the report on Observed Violence in Venezuela, and consistent with the 2007-2008 Human Development Report, a situation that hasn’t changed.

Instead of looking for the speck in its neighbors’ eyes, the Cuban media should recommend solutions to serious national problems, which deepen and diversify along with the growing multifaceted crisis prevailing in the country.

From Diario de Cuba.

11 July 2012