Granma makes it clear: only Government and accredited foreign press may report on the ravages of Matthew
On Thursday the regime's official newspaper, Granma, made it clear that only Government press and accredited foreign media on the Island may report on the ravages of Hurricane Matthew in Guantánamo, describing as "provocations" in the "service of the counterrevolution" attempts by Cubans not associated with the Government to report from areas affected by the storm.
The logic seems to be the same the regime continues to exhibit in many aspects of life in the country: the Government and some foreigners have certain rights, while Cuban citizens do not.
An article by regime journalist Oscar Sánchez Serra praised the work of the official media, emphasizing reports on hurricane preparedness and efforts to save human lives.
He criticized the fact that independent journalists, with scarce resources, did not reach the places devastated by Matthew until after the hurricane had passed, comparing their efforts to the deployment of Government and foreign media, the former benefitting from the machinery of the State, and the latter from major business groups.
"They were outside the epicenter of the story and were lost, because they were not interested in the epic event," alleged Sánchez Serra.
In Cuba, "an exemplar of humanist excellence, we would be remiss if we did not condemn the typical manipulation and, in this case, provocation perpetrated by private sites, or ones openly in the service of the counterrevolution, which strove to provide accounts not just different, but distorted, of the state of affairs on the ground, even as recovery efforts were still underway," wrote the Government journalist.
"In addition, they acted without prior permission, as was incumbent upon them during such an emergency, and in which the country took every appropriate measure, as does every nation around the world," he added – without mentioning that the regime, in Article 53 of the Constitution, stakes a claim to exclusive control over the media and actually prohibits the existence of independent media.
According to Sánchez Serra, the purported "provocateurs" were active in the vicinity of the US Naval Base at Guantánamo, "against the will of its people, though it was nothing at all like the areas most damaged by the hurricane."
The Government journalist sought to equate the attempts to report independently on Matthew to the round of human rights talks between the governments of Cuba and the United States, to be held this Friday.
"It is telling that this happened right before the talks," he said.
For trying to report on the ravages of Matthew in Baracoa DIARIO DE CUBA reporter Maykel González Vivero spent three days in a holding cell. The authorities confiscated all his work material and accused him of "illicit economic activity."
On Wednesday nine workers for the Internet site Periodismo de Barrio (Neighborhood Journalism) were also arrested in Baracoa, and released hours later in Guantánamo, including its director, Elaine Díaz.