Viernes, 18 de Enero de 2019
Última actualización: 02:28 CET

Lawyers and journalists, in danger

There are two vexing occupations for the Cuban government. One of them is the legal profession, a career only open to those deemed reliable by the political police.

But when they leave classrooms Law graduates acquire the irritating habit of questioning everything, and the training they have received makes them implacable critics, able to assimilate new knowledge, interpret it according to their own judgments, and, if necessary, apply them, or at least try to do so in the particular conditions in which they live. The Law for them ceases to be socialist and becomes simply Law, and it is at this point when they are no longer reliable, and become a danger to the powers that be.

It does not matter if they have been militants, CDR members, the children of revolutionary families, servants of the revolution, or pioneers from La Moncada. Law is a difficult career. Those who initiated the war in 1868 were lawyers. Men from Bayamo, Camagüey, Havana and elsewhere on the island, including ranchers, landowners and businessmen, all studied Law. Once in power, Fidel Castro thought seriously about whether to reopen the Law School.

Journalists, meanwhile, had no School of Journalism, which came only later, as another mechanism to ensure control over the press. Those now dedicated to independent journalism do not necessarily have university studies. Some do, while others have been passed courses sponsored by Florida International University that have provided them with the appropriate tools to write a story or an opinion piece, investigate, and do digital journalism by making the use of new information and communications technologies.

Despite this preparation and their steady work as independent journalists, collaborating with various media sources, according to the political police, the official press and the Communist government, they are not genuine journalists if they did not attend the School of Journalism. 

In the history of Cuba and the world there are plenty of examples of renowned journalists who never studied Journalism in college: Ernest Hemingway, Jose Martí, Mark Twain, Juan Gualberto Gómez, Gabriel García Márquez, Pablo de la Torriente Brau, Julius Fucik, Jorge Manach, José Zacarías Tallet, etc. Whether on the Left or Right, there have been Nobel laureates and Pulitzer Prize winners, patriots and adventurers, all of them, regardless of their political affiliation, were great writers, skilled in the art of narration, which is not learned in college, but by writing, and they all had something in common: the need to share what they saw.

With this impotent argument they aim to discredit Cuba's independent press. To make matters worse, a former independent journalist, fallen into State Security's clutches, for some reason only he and his masters know, has now been admitted as a journalist in the official press and a member of the Union of Journalists of Cuba (UPEC), despite the fact that he was never an outstanding editor, or occupied a post at any university.

Another equally ridiculous criticism is that independent journalists charge for their published works, when this is true of any journalist in the world – including those at the newspaper Granma and Radio Reloj.

If independent Cuban journalists could freely publish within their own country, there would be no need to turn, as almost their only option, to media based abroad, to provide news or express opinions that pertain primarily to the people of Cuba and its Government. 

The onslaught that the Cuban government is waging against lawyers and independent journalists at this time reflects the Government's impotence because, university graduates or not, these two civil society groups will not be silenced, and will continue to condemn, investigate and give advice in a country whose authorities do not respect the law, and where professional journalists are persecuted as if they were criminals, stigmatized, threatened by police and attacked by vigilantes.