This Is Not Spoken Of / Yoani Sanchez #Cuba

Brick by brick Eliécer builds the pen for the pigs, washes the floor with a hose and feeds the plump sow that recently gave birth. A neighbor passes by and shouts to him, “Hey! ‘Your friend’ Alarcón is no longer in Parliament!” The words are out of sync with the situation, bringing a dose of highly charged politics to the harsh day-to-day. But for the young man from Las Tunas such contrasts are already common.

Five years ago he was in a meeting room at the University of Information Sciences with a microphone in his hand. Today, he tries to earn a living in the midst of the material shortages and misunderstandings of a provincial town.

When the list of deputies to the Eighth Parliament was published a few days ago, many immediately thought of Eliécer Ávila. In January of 2008, then a student at the University of Information Sciences (UCI), he questioned the President of the National Assembly who responded with Manichean — and even ridiculous — arguments.

The video of that moment spread with a velocity unprecedented in the newly opened alternative networks for distributing audiovisuals. This event contributed to the acceleration of the countdown for Ricardo Alarcón. A fall from grace already anticipated by his not being included in Fidel Castro’s proclamation when he delegated power to the men he most trusted. The veteran diplomat become parliamentarian was not among those chosen to occupy one of the major posts of the government. It only remained for his replacement to become effective, which — at the slow-moving pace of the Cuban Nomenklatura — will occur in February 2013.

Beyond the ousted official and a young man with the energy and clarity to go much further, it’s worth analyzing how the news has played in the Cuban press. Over the entire week it has published the name and a short biography of each deputy. It has also analyzed the percentage of women, farmers and young people who will occupy the seats in the Palace of Conventions… but without a single word about the current parliamentary president who will step down from his post.

Can you imagine a press, truly attentive to reality, that doesn’t mention what is spoken about in every street, every corner, every Cuban house? Can you conceive of Eliécer Ávila’s neighbors having a better “nose for the news,” being better informed, than all the reporters of the newspaper Granma?

Yoani Sanchez