Why Does Cuba Have a Journalism of the Barricade?
Why Does Cuba Have a Journalism of the Barricade? / Luis Felipe Rojas
Luis Felipe Rojas, 11 November 2016 — The answer is simple. Because we
are a country at war with the media for almost six decades.
To speak of the green shoots of happiness, in the midst of hardships and
political harassment, is little more than to put our heads in the sand.
The dictators don’t believe in these brushstrokes, which they use at
The official journalism that directs the eyes and ears of the people has
had an alternative for some time. It is independent journalism, which
calls itself free, but it has had to suffer harassment from the State,
prison and exile.
In recent times “alternative” journalists have appeared who come from
officialdom or perhaps perform a few pirouettes, and they have said
loudly that they prefer to narrate, to describe the country, to do
research, before joining the “barricade.”
Of course, now this barricade-designation is added to previous
expletives: “mercenaries,” “at the service of a foreign power,”
“traitor” and others.
As I write these notes the young human rights activist Alexander
Verdecia has been condemned to two years in prison; he is a young man
who lives seven hundred kilometers from Havana and has been accused to
posting signs against Raul Castro in Rio Cauto.
In the old Miranda Center, a rickety sugar factory from the early 20th
century, lives Ariadna Alvarez Rensoler. She protested a month ago in
support of a woman in her family who, in turn, had engaged in a hunger
strike. Two weeks later they summoned her to a local court in the “J.A.
Mella” municipality of Santiago de Cuba and imposed 6 months of home
The scene is this: Ariadna is four months pregnant and the prosecutor —
a woman like her — hurriedly reads the sentence written in an almost
police language. “They didn’t let me have a lawyer,” she told me in a
In Palma Soriana, also in Santiago de Cuba, the police put the siblings
Geordanis and Adael Muñoz Guerrero behind bars, accused of the same
thing, but they were taken to prison, condemned to one year and six
months, respectively. It was a summary trial. Their family was not
notified. There was no due process.
The young Catholic Juannier Rodriguez was handcuffed behind his back,
they raided his home and took him to four police stations in three days.
Rodriguez distributed some baskets of humanitarian aid for the victims
of Hurricane Matthew in his native Baracoa, helping the nuns of the
Sisters of Charity order. They took him very far from Guantanamo. Then
left him in the outskirts of Santiago de Cuba, at ten at night, to get
home under his own power.
Dagoberto Valdés Hernández, a restless and outspoken layman, has been
summoned twice to police stations in Pinar del Rio, in less than a month.
Valdez directs the Center for Coexistence Studies. A kind of home where
one can learn to be free and sovereign, and doing this in Cuba is a
serious crime. They gave him two police summons and twice the Catholic
and human rights activist published them on his Facebook account.
The second time they threatened him directly. “Starting now your life is
going to be more difficult,” said a political police official with the
rank of first officer. Valdes was not allowed to defend himself and has
nowhere to go where he can be assured of being defended and not threatened.
These actions were performed by some men in plain clothes, with official
State Security IDs who on most occasions were accompanied by uniformed
People do not say anything, they shrug their shoulders as if the victim
did something bad, for not sitting still, for not bowing his head, for
not smiling when the stick rains down on the beaten.
Describing these horrors is called “journalism of the barricade” or
“yellow journalist” and in most cases they are accused “of playing on
the enemy’s side.”
Why doesn’t a journalist question the victimizer? The institutions have
the gag of the fifty-seven years of the olive-green revolution and its
leaders never show their faces if it’s not to deal with the violators.
Why not do journalism of the barricade?
Source: Why Does Cuba Have a Journalism of the Barricade? / Luis Felipe
Rojas – Translating Cuba –