Tuesday, November 15, 2016

I do not want to put on a 'media show'

"I do not want to put on a 'media show' " / 14ymedio, Eliecer Avila

14ymedio, Eliecer Avila, 4 November 2016 — How many times have we heard
the phrase "I do not want to put on a media show," especially from
people who have been victims of institutional abuse in Cuba? It would
seem that there is a generalized notion that publicizing a problem
hinders its solution. Is this really true? Not in my experience.

It is true that the mere fact of sharing with public opinion in a
determined situation is not an act of magic that exonerates us from any
frustration or suffering, but also it is a myth to believe that
everything will go better if "nothing comes out on the internet" or in
"the press of over there."

I have known cases where unscrupulous leaders have trampled the dignity
of workers in the most diverse areas without feeling the minimum weight
of the law and much less the moral judgment of public opinion, because
when abuses are committed under the shelter of silence, the victims
suffer double and the victimizers remain unscathed to continue
committing their crimes.

As I'm not given to relying on stories that are two old or too distant,
I will mention some recent events that reaffirm this false perception.
Just a few months ago Omar Everleny Perez was fired from the World
Economy Studies Center, at the University of Havana. Aside from
information from third parties and some timid comments from the
professor himself, the reality is that nothing formal was published
about it. Nor was the decision overturned.

Then there was the firing of the Radio Holguin journalist, Jose Ramon
Ramirez Pantoja, for publishing the remarks of the deputy director of
the Granma newspaper. In this case, also, the journalist himself
approached it very timidly and in his close circle, when it came time to
call things by their name, although more comments circulated on Facebook
than in the previous case. Nor was there any reversal of course, with
the final result of the process far worse than one might think.

Last week, this newspaper published an interview with Professor Juan
Antonio Fernandez, expelled from the University of Havana, in which he
also mentioned this phrase: "I don't want to make a media show of this."
It's curious how we have embedded in our hypothalamus that sharing our
problems is an act of "ideological weakness," a "concession to the
enemy" or, even worse, a betrayal of who knows who.

But apparently it's very different when the problem happens to a
"comrade" with another country. The exaggerated media coverage by
Telesur and other national media in the case of Victor Hugo Morales
comes to mind, when his contract was cancelled with an Argentinian
television network after it stopped receiving the Kirchnerista check
(bribe) after the election of Mauricio Macri as Argentina's new president.

The headlines in the official press denounced the "abominable
censorship" which the militant was supposedly a victim of,
who certainly, thanks to this whole campaign, didn't delay in finding
another foxhole. Indeed, that's one of the good things that happens in
more than a few cases: when you have closed one door and others, who
share your vision, can cooperate in opening another one even wider.

The phobia that exists among Cubans about telling the media what has
happened to them has two key components. One, the fear of reprisals that
might be even worse by a system that doesn't tolerate being accused of
anything, and that has control of all the strings to weave the most
sophisticated traps. Two, the lack of confidence in national public
opinion that has no real weight, nor is it accustomed to pressuring any
institution, and much less the government, so that the limited
repercussion that a specific case will have overseas and this can come
via the antenna, distorted or manipulated.

In any case, I believe there is a legitimate right to make public
knowledge what we consider exceeds our limited personal capabilities of
self-defense. But this confidence that any of us can have in what exists
and what could determine the solidarity of our people, should be
cultivated with the rightful exercise of citizen opinion, the
responsibility and seriousness of the media and, especially, the strong
and effective articulation a broad civil society that covers every
corner of the country.

National public opinion should become the protective shell of each fair
person and the worst nightmare of those who violate their rights. This
public opinion is not an abstract or distant entity: it is you, it is
me, it is all of us.

Source: "I do not want to put on a 'media show' " / 14ymedio, Eliecer
Avila – Translating Cuba -

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