The Machinery of Information / Eliécer Avila
The Machinery of Information / Eliécer Avila
Eliécer Ávila, Translator: Unstated
“We will defend the truth with our morals and our principals”
No one denies that the great information media, especially those with a
global reach, often reflect the influences of the economic-political
circles of power that lead, plan and cause the principal international
events. But it is also true that no one can control all global
information. And citizens who, today, are the race of the internet, and
media of all types, can count on infinite range of contrasts, positions,
points of view and opinions that offer a marvelously rich view of events.
We Cubans who live under a government with a closed ideology that
controls all internal media (press, radio, television), lose the chance
to see the whole spectrum of current ideas and we can’t enjoy a sense of
being citizens of the world. Here, information is something else: it is
illegal, dishonorable, useless and trivial for the common man; it is
dangerous, subversion and harmful to the health of minds.
On this particular subject a panel of young people discussed our points
of view in one of the incomparable Estado de Sats encounters. But not
even years of analysis could reflect all the complexities of this theme
in Cuba. Here they juggle information and news. And an entire industry
has developed involving all the institutions, organizations and
individuals who can issue any type of content aimed at the people.
Nothing emerges from a microphone, or shows up on a screen or on printed
paper that has not been analyzed and approved by real experts in
doctrine, who are very clear on (because it has been made known to them
from above) what the objectives to be pursued are, which are the states
of opinion that are needed with respect to determined topics, and even
what is the mood they have to provoke in the population in days around
some date or in special contexts of the politics of the country.
This is the method by which the whole machine operates. And every
journalist, commentator, broadcaster, and even the supposed interviewees
who appear on the media have been meticulously chosen among those who
are able — with a very specific opinion — to demonstrate their “general”
approval or condemnation according to which is appropriate in each case.
So, for example, if they are going to “review” any action taken by the
State, they already know that all those interviewed will speak wonders
about it, for the rule is always to not be too obvious, so within the
interviews there will always be someone who will level some mild
criticism on the quality or availability of things, and say, “Well, I
must say that we are not satisfied with what we’ve accomplished, because
we know there are still shortcomings, but we think that we can continue
to work in the future to get the results we’re hoping for and that the
top leadership of the country is calling on us to achieve.”
This methodology, however, is not reserved for the internal environment.
It’s best when it people from outside offer their views on Cuban
subjects. People who regularly issue such opinions are principally
conditioned by the influence and impact of the triumph of the Cuban
Revolution in the context of its time and the measures taken here; in
this way Cuba is completely devoted to maintaining the external image
that it holds in the eyes of many romantic leftists.
Normally, those who speak to the Cuban press must meet the profile of
people who are clearly leftists, at times leaders of socialist or
communist parties who have twenty members in their own countries, and at
the most some deputy in the congress. Cuban TC will show them speaking
all over the country, praising to the skies what Cuba has done. And they
sell us on these people as “eminent personalities,” who couldn’t be
wrong when they offer an opinion on a subject.
None of these people who idolize the Cuban government could live a
single month with the work and the ration book that we have. None of
them would get into one of our “transports.” None could live a single
day in a palm leaf “house” with a dirt floor and a hole in the ground
out in the open for their “needs” like many Cubans whom I know in the
countryside where I was born, as well as others I’ve seen on the
outskirts and even in the center of any city.
None of these sympathizers would eat the strange pasta and the bad
smelling stuff called “hash,” after standing in a brutal line to
purchase it in a shop. None of them would resign themselves to never
being able to travel because even if we saved for a hundred years our
Cuban salaries couldn’t buy an airline ticket much less all the things
just to live, mainly food. None could lead a life completely lacking in
the internet and all technologies and access to things that for them are
Most of those who praise the Cuban system refer, tediously and
repetitively, to the issues of health and education and, despite the
mountain of problems both present in Cuba, it is true that access to
those services is better than in many countries in the world. But what
these eternal sycophants don’t realize that we spend about one percent
of our lives in the classroom or the hospital, and the other ninety-nine
plus percent of the time we are lacking absolutely everything a person
needs to live: food, clothes, shoes, housing, home appliances,
transportation, infrastructure, opportunities, information, freedom.
The world today in the Cuban media
The media in Cuba reflect events in a totally different way than they
are reflected worldwide, and hide information that is vital to
understanding these events. During the conflict in Libya, our media
showed Gaddafi as a legitimate and good leader totally supported by his
people, while all those opposed to him were “mercenaries, traitors and
insurgents.” We never had access to the information that anyone in the
world could access about the rule of law in Libya, not about what
Gaddafi and his family had one with the country’s wealth, nor about
their exotic lifestyles (he was the Lady Gaga of heads of state). Nor
did we know anything about the plans of the insurgents.
Later events increasingly refuted the claims of our media: the people
wanted nothing to do with Gaddafi and the brave young rebels were not
wrong. Today Cuba maintains total silence about the state of Libya and
only mentions it to speak of the method the United States used to
overthrow a government “established by the people.”
On the other hand, support for the rebels is presented as interference
in internal affairs. Then we have to remember that Cuba meddles in the
internal affairs of a few countries, doing exactly the same things:
training guerillas, financing and arming secret armies, and sending
troops and weapons.
Now, the same thing is happening in the Cuban media with Syria and the
issue of nuclear arms in Iran. And I’m not saying that what the West or
the United States government is saying should be repeated without
question, nor do I believe that there is an absolute right to take part
in any sense in these conflicts, because in these cases there are
usually reasons and points of view in all directions. But Cuba is
determined to hide the information, the debates, the arguments of all
those they consider enemies, and only announce constantly the positions
of the “friendly” government in question, and what any citizen who
supports the government (which there will always be, everywhere, of
course) has to say, but this is not the full reality and our people need
to have the greatest quantity and variety of information to understand
what is really happening.
Faced with the resolutions of the United Nations General Assembly on
Syria, the Cuban media talk of an international conspiracy against the
government of that country, and show the Russian, Chinese and Venezuelan
views with respect to it, as if these three countries were the only ones
who spoke and argued their position. But why not also show the speeches
of the countries that voted for the resolution, which were most of them?
This framework of disinformation or of “highly selective information,”
which is the same thing, provides an opportunity for some “enlightened
ones” to undertake futuristic analyses that is nothing more than a
combination of information available online for anyone in the better
part of the world, and their “brilliant conclusions” that any Cuban
child who had the access and information privileges of these specialists
Cuban leaders speculate with the information they access the same way
they speculate with almost everything that they prohibit to the people.
They avoid at all costs allowing Cubans to have access to information
because they want people to focus on work “each one to his task,” while
they take charge of informing us. And for that they spend millions on
mechanisms, systems, people and equipment for the control of ideas and
This responds to a harsh reality which urgently needs to be realized:
those who live in the thick of power will not let go until the people
take it from them, and before the leave for good, they will finish off a
few, or all if necessary.
This article appeared in Diario de Cuba.
10 March 2012