Recently, I read a post from the Uruguayan journalist Fernado Rasvberg, BBC’s reporter in Havana, about the difficulties reporters had faced to inform their media branches over the death of the political prisoner Wilmar Villar. And, in general, about how to inform to the world from such a hostile and claustrophobic environment Cuban society is.
The article is posted in his blog in BBC’s website: Letters from Cuba and it is titled “The difficult work to inform”. I recommend to all of you to read and get your own opinions. These ones are mine.
At the end of his post he said, I quote:
“... at the end everybody is blaming the foreigners, a newspaper in Miami blame about ‘the apathy of more than one foreign reporter’ about Villar’s death and Granma is outraged because to Cuba ‘the international media refuses the minimum space required’”
Ending his post with and I quote again:
“But the mission of a foreign reporter isn’t to take sides in the political battleground but to inform about what it is taking place in it, avoiding manipulations to try to reach the objectivity and necessary detachment our profession demands”
Pretty words. Elegant phrases. Little Truth. At least from my point of view, and I explain myself.
I had never requested to any foreign reporter to take political sides, but to inform what it is happening. I have never asked to manipulate either, what I had always requested is to write and investigate the daily incidents happening in Cuba. They happen... and neither Ravsberg nor any other reporter says a word.
Happens that the reporter, or the informer, or maybe the Uruguayan journalist is not the only one in Havana and BBC is not the only western news agency with reporters in Cuba Why so few news about Cuba in those agencies?
Faraway of our country we, as Cuban exiles, criticize CNN and BBC, just by mentioning two of those news agencies, because we are seeing with astonishment how no one of those news agencies is giving a report in time, many times are delaying an important information, or even avoiding a very sensitive topic.
Many times CNN had avoided for days an “objective information” about Cuba, and we know for sure how difficult is the daily work for a foreign reporter in Havana. I say much more: from the comfort of our Capital City a very few of them have a venture to go... may be with the exception to go in a little trip to Varadero.
But, just let’s go back at what Ravsberg is telling us in his post. According to him it was difficult to report the death of Wilmar Villar. My question is: did he report his hunger strike then? He already talks about it so he knew it. Did he request any information from Cuban officials? Did he get close to Castro’s opposition to know the facts around it?
Everything could look very difficult to the journalist under the veil of words very well structured and put it together. The reality check is, as he himself says in that post, the only sources who alerted the public opinion about Wilmar Villar’s hunger strike were neither Castro’s media nor western news agencies, but the opposition to Castro’s regime.
Question: Where was Fernando Ravsberg then to make a report?
There is another peculiar and very revealing detail that the western news agencies reporters know: the regime’s propaganda system brought to the public light a Medical Report about an alleged domestic aggression by Wilmar Villar to his wife (denied several times by her). Isn’t it a shameless private interference according to western standards to those foreign reporters?
It is unlawful here, in Canada, as you can check in the Criminal Code of this country. It is in United States as well from where CNN’s reporter is coming from. And it is also a violation in Uruguay, native country of Fernando Ravsberg.
So, where is that question in his post then? Is it in honour of being “detachment” that he says nothing?
About if a journalist has to take or not sides in a political battleground (Ravsberg says it shouldn’t be done), I bring here the opinion of one of the most veteran journalists of the Catalan media: Lorenzo Gomis. He said:
“... Journalism is a method of interpretation, first because the journalist chooses among the events happening those that he himself consider important. Second, because the journalist interprets and translates to a simple language every unit of the external action that he decides to isolate, it means, the news; besides, he distinguishes among them what is essential and interesting and what it is not. Third, because he tries to put in place the information to be understood, explained and judged. “
I think it is crystal clear, don’t you think?
Let’s be honest: any journalist’s judgement always goes through his own political perception. And his detachment depends of his own personal perceptions, his set of political values, and his social and philosophical affiliations.
And then, there are their fears. Yes, their fears. The fear to risk too much in a country easy to expel reporters who go closer to independent sources (alternative to the official sources: I mean dissidents). It happened with Maurice Vicent of “El Pais” and to Carlos Hernando of “El Mundo” (two Spanish newspapers).
Both expulsions were condemned by Reporters without Borders. Unknown this is another of those variables Ravsberg is playing with. His reports show, actually, what he is intentionally avoiding in order to not to fall in the mistakes of his Spanish colleagues: never offer independent sources beyond Castro’s establishment.
The journalist’s mission is to inform, to reach the primary sources of the news, to ask information, to contrast with other sources and offer them to the public. That is journalism.
If nowadays we are having news about Cuba in newspapers and news agencies, it is not because reporters like Ravsberg - who avoids “with detachment” difficult topics about Cuba – but thanks to Cuban independent journalist, bloggers and dissidents who are sending messages through their cell phones (almost blinded) to the social networks, and Cuban exiles are posting their information in websites designed to them.
In Ravsberg’s post he critizice Granma (Cuba’s official newspaper), the prince of misinformation and lies, because Castro’s propaganda system had the time to investigate Wilmar’s case and inform... and Granma didn’t do it. What a joke !!!
Do you ask to Big Brother to investigate “seriously” about the so-hated Goldstein and inform “objectively”?
What kind of joke is this, Mr Ravsberg?
Moreover, if Granma didn’t do it, why didn’t you do it? Was difficult to you to go from Havana to Santiago de Cuba where Wilmar died? Couldn’t BBC afford it for you?
Inconsistency, incoherence and lies to justify your oblivions.
It is very appropriate to remember, for instance, what Umberto Eco had said once about the so-called “detachment” in the news. I mean the impossibility to reach it. The Italian semiotic said:
“Even carefully putting apart comments and news, the selection itself of the news and its tailoring constitute elements of judgement.”
And never had changed since then, Mr Ravsberg.
It’s no possible to be a simple Messenger and nothing else. Just the selection of the information, how and when “constitute elements of judgement”... as Eco is remaindering us.