Cuban Free Press in Mortal Danger
Lázaro González Valdés
The news couldn't be worse. “Cubanet is going through a difficult economic situation that could imperil its very survival”, said the article published by the staff at the non-profit organization.
MIAMI, Florida, may, (www.cubanet.org) -The news couldn't be worse. “Cubanet is going through a difficult economic situation that could imperil its very survival”, said the article published by the staff at the non-profit organization.
But we must not allow Cubanet to die for many reasons.
The first reason is that as an archive of documents, articles and news stories, Cubanet is the most complete and truthful instrument for the study of Cuban history from 1996 to date. For instance, if you want to know about an epidemic that the Cuban government wants to hide, or about the latest arrests of government opponents, or about what parts of the Socialist Constitution have been changed, or the date a political prisoner was locked in a punishment cell, all that information can be found in the Cubanet archives with a few simple clicks.
Another reason we must not allow Cubanet to die is that it provides a space for any Cuban democracy advocate to publish freely as long as the information be of quality and not contain personal attacks. When I resigned the presidency of the Cuban Pro-human Rights Party affiliated with the Andrei Sajarov Foundation and, along with other colleagues, founded the Cuba Verdad press agency in 1998, Cubanet received and published our work.
My third argument in favor of Cubanet, I'm going to offer as a testimonial. After nine years as an activist with the Cuban Pro-human Rights Party, dozens of arrests and interrogations, unemployment, a prison sentence, mental and physical torture, endless harassment, chronic economic scarcity, among other “caresses” that I received from communist counterintelligence, and after a few days of engaging in independent journalism, Surprise!, Cubanet sent 15 dollars for each of us working in Cuba Verdad. At that time, the exchange rate was 26 pesos for a dollar; I had received the equivalent of 390 pesos, in a country where a physician earned 375 pesos a month.
Cubanet's support for pro-democracy activists is evident. Communists have carried out and will carry out any and all intelligence operations they can to hinder the program that has inflicted so much damage to the regime with the least amount of private and federal funds.
I could also count other reasons to keep Cubanet alive, such as that it is a live journalism workshop, a guide to relations between Cubans in and out of the island, a source of news and information for the free use of radio and TV stations, researchers, journalists, scholars and all who may want to understand the Cuban conflict and reality.
I could also argue that Cubanet has been a source of employment for activists, the original promoter of a free press for Cubans, a publisher of literary works, a defender of basic human rights, a link between Cuban and foreign activists. It is the newspaper of hope for many exiles that envision a return to a free Cuba.
In 1995, a group of Pro-human Rights Party activists, myself among them, obtained evidence that Odilia Collazo Valdés and other false dissidents were infiltrated agents of communist counterintelligence. We warned of the danger these agents presented to our cause. Very few took an interest in the matter, and ignored our warning. In 2003, during the so-called Black Spring, the true identity of Collazo and the others came out, but too late; the damage had been done.
Now I'm addressing those who have Cubanet's fate in their hands to ask that they not let the original program of the Cuban independent press to die. Listen, if only for the once, to the appeal of one who was privileged to serve in some of the most relevant activities against communism between 1989 and 1999. Heed my warning: If Cubanet is allowed to die, the embryo of a Cuban free press will die with it.