Manuel David Orrio, CPI
HAVANA, June - The proposal by U. S. senators Helms and Lieberman to help
the Cuban human rights movement with 100 million dollars over four years has
generated diverse reactions within the island, particularly among opponents of
the government and independent journalists. On the other hand, some like Cuban
foreign minister Pérez Roque have called the project "excellent,"
insofar as it is convenient to the government's discourse in that it
compromises its beneficiaries.
The future Cuban Solidarity law has, indirectly, already been rejected in
the charter of the "Manuel Márquez Sterling" Association of
Independent Journalists, one of several such budding associations. The Márquez
Sterling states in its charter that it will not accept money from foreign
Without getting into political arguments, let's analize our position as
Cuban independent journalists, stating at the outset that we are not dissidents,
but journalists. Our justification is to publish and get paid for what we do,
according to our rights as authors and based on professional ethics accepted
worldwide. If we refuse to accept money from foreign governments, public money,
are we saying that we would work for free for a broadcaster such as the BBC?
Why? If our message reaches its audience, why should we care who publishes and
pays us? Or more to the point, would it not matter to those who don't want us to
Cuban independent journalism is alternative journalism because it is opposed
to a censorship model that keeps it from its natural market, the island's
public. Outside, news of a little island do not hold great sway, so it is
journalism that in some way has to be subsidized.
Paradox: the Márquez Sterling association comes out against receiving
public money and no other than Noam Chomsky, a recognized leftist critic,
defends accepting public money as an antidote against censorship by big money in
Paradox: careful analyses of projects associated with independent journalism
stubbornly show that recepients of public money are more diverse, more
pluralistic and more tolerant than others. CubaNet is a good example; it links
to sites both for and against the Cuban government, it publishes both defenders
and opponents of the U. S. embargo against Cuba, and nothing happens, nobody is
Private money, for journalists, could mean another type of censorship, but
censorship nevertheless. "Whoever pays, orders," said José Martí.
Public money obeys public purposes, publicly debated and determined; private
money obeys the will of its owner. If public money is granted for the exercise
of freedom of expression, sooner or later, there will be freedom of expression,
because at some point there will have to be an accounting. But with private
money, who will demand an accounting from its owner?
It may be, then, that the apparent freedom of private money, from the point
of view of the independent journalists, could become an expensive chain. It's
only an idea, but an idea worth considering.
original en español
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