Desde Dentro de Cuba.

Distribuido por Cuba Free Press, Inc. - http://www.cubafreepress.org

10 de Julio del 2000

IN CUBA, INDEPENDENT JOURNALISM SEEN AS MOST DANGEROUS OCCUPATION. By Rafael Contreras, Cuba Free Press.

Pinar del Río.- A respectable American insurance company reported in 1968 that journalism was the most dangerous occupation on earth. This was received as an insult by persons ignorant of the profession. Spies, bush pilots, bank tellers, presidential guards, acrobats, infantry soldiers -then stationed in Vietnam - deep sea divers and even a mailman from a ghetto in Chicago screamed bloody murder and claimed that honor.

Thus begins the book by the Cuban Norberto Fuentes dedicated to U.S. writer Ernest Miller Hemingway. Norberto titled the book "A Correspondent Named Hemingway." The best articles by the bronze god of American literature are collected in this work. Hemingway's complete mastery of the profession of journalism is shown in each chronicle. The danger that the occupation of journalist carries when a reporter accepts the challenge is also shown.

Hemingway always accepted the challenge of danger. He managed to know the smell of death and knew how to describe it like no one else.

Further on in the prologue of his anthology Norberto writes, "A reporter of pedigree, one of the paradigms of contemporary journalism, a man who appeared in whatever place with his chamois jacket or with a slightly sweaty guayabera and with a peevish smile and his miopic gaze behind round wire-rimmed spectacles and with an inseparable bottle of gin mixed with vermouth, would have been happy to know the news. Journalism established his adventurous and romantic character on solid foundations. Hemingway was the most adventurous and romantic of them all."

The master could not feel happy with the news. It was almost seven years that he rested in his grave on account of having blown his head off with a shot to the roof of his mouth by his own hand. The instrument he used was a hunting rifle, perhaps the same one with which he faced a rhinoceros one day in the middle of whatever African plain. Still, he left many journalists the lesson and teaching of all the dangers that exist in the profession.

Others have preferred to take on the job out of convenience, leaving to one side the challenges to finally accept the manipulation of the systems in which they live.

In Cuba there are two journalisms: one dangerous and the other tame. In the former there are challengers and in the latter those who flee from challenges. Every man or woman has the right to think for him- or herself. Every individuals can accept or reject the dangers of the occupation. Those who flee from the challenges should remain silent in the presence of the challengers.

Among reasons for silence: Whoever lives as a coward should resign himself to the loneliness of his fears and allow those to go free who clear the path of dangers with an open heart.

The independent Cuban press has been slandered on more than one occasion. The Cuban authorities have reached the point of rage over independent journalism many times. They have made verbal attacks and threats against independent journalists; they constantly harass such journalists; they unfairly segregate them from other journalists on many occasions.

The independent press has taken as a constant lesson the teachings of a master: Hemingway. With those teachings the independent journalists have triumphed over the risks and learned how to put up with the constant slanders of those who once could have won for themselves the adjective of professional colleagues.

The independent journalist has never offended the government journalist. The government journalist has not conducted himself the same towards the independent journalist. An independent journalist takes on the challenges in the name of what is just.

Freedom has to be riding on the word. If that word is not free, then freedom does not ride. The independent Cuban press tells truths. The independent journalist who respects his readers only gets out the truth. He does not forgive the lie in its ink. And the reader does not forgive the lie either.

When we win the confidence of those who read or listen to us, then we know we have people who defend us and take on our challenges.

An independent journalist does as he or she must do, writing well and being clever or else resigning from combat before starting. Here in Cuba independent journalism is the most dangerous occupation. It carries with the danger a pronounced disinterest.

The official government press has the right to everything. But it gives rise to the obligation to swallow its opinions. That is the price placed on those who accept bonds. He that hates the word independent from the point of view of the press in Cuba hates himself and uses that hate as a defense mechanism to hide his own fears as an undefined individual.

So we independent journalists have a maxim:

We will never hate those who could be our colleagues. Never will we hate them. We take on this occupation and so make ourselves owners of our own adjective. We know our profession is divine. That compensates for having to take on the dangers of the damned.

We know how to walk with the free words we choose. We feel the full satisfaction of continuing to look at Hemingway smiling from his grave. Today every independent journalist writes full of joy that thwarts shadows. In this way we maintain upright the paradigm of the bronze god of American literature. And in this same way every independent journalist illuminates fortune, feeling himself identified in the name of reason and the divinely damned truth.

Rafael Contreras, Cuba Free Press


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