Lack of Harmony

Photo: Peter Deel

At least once a week (Fridays) I acquire the newspaper Granma, to track its Letters to the Editor section, the only place where people can raise some problems and give some opinions other than the official ones, which occupy its daily pages and also all the other pages on this day, monotony piled on top of monotony.

What when it first appeared created some expectations, however slim of course, in an opening in the impenetrable wall of controlled information and opinion in Cuba, with the passage of time has become a resounding disappointment.

Here, instead of a civilized meeting space for different opinions, looking for the best solutions to the problems that beset us, are usually laid out inconsequential complaints about particular minutiae of city life, and the responses — more and more justifications and bureaucratic — from the agencies and institutions involved. In addition, it teems with the extensive views of some representatives of the most backward thinking and caveman-like who, on principle, oppose any change, however minimal.

I am not suggesting they not publish them, but there should also appear, on an equal basis and in equal space, opinions from those who think differently, so that the readers, educated, trained and cultured, as the official propaganda says, would have the possibility to compare and come up with their own opinions, in a climate of tolerance.

Maybe someone, a staunch advocate of immobility, contended that this is the organ of the Party and so it must be this way. In short, in Cuba, all national and provincial newspapers are official Party organs, because there is only one Party that controls them all, and they only publish what it decides or approves.

However, there is a latent contradiction. When some senior leaders, in their speeches and statements, talk about necessary changes, changing the mindset, allowing different opinions, etc., in official journalistic practice the opposite happens:every time the media tightens the straitjacket. In other words: rhetoric and reality are not in sync. Letters to the Editor is a great example of this.

December 7 2012

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