On Criticizing Cuba
By: Luis Sexto
A reader asked me if at some point I would write about the positive aspects of Cuba. I answered that I have been working as a journalist for 35 years, and all this time I have defended, along with my people, the values of the Revolution. Has anybody who knows me ever read or heard the contrary?
I am not going to justify myself or make statements in good faith — that sounds bad. I will deal with the issue because, as it often happens, you can speak about good things in many different ways. I discuss and criticize negative aspects to preserve the positive ones. Human actions are also a target of opinion. My training as a journalist is based on authors such as Che Guevara and his «vigilant style. » Nobody has ever read a line written by Che in which he was not critical — because criticism is vigilance. It is the «being alert» of Julius Fucik.
If there is an impact I would like to make in my writing, it would be to make people think. Traditionally, criticism has always been some kind of offence. Fernando Ortiz referred to this tendency in his books in his youth: Ensayos de psicología tropical, written in the early 20th century. We react to criticism —the wise man said— in an intolerant and generally defensive way, considering criticism as the enemy. That is why it is very hard to understand one another, which almost forces us to do without this method, and miss out on the corrective elements.
Has anyone educated their children without using criticism? Maybe the children who «turned out bad» are the result of this lack of criticism. Such parents believe in hiding defects and justifying actions, because if you “come down too hard on the boy he might get mad, and leave home.” I have heard these arguments before. Look at the family life of any unfortunate family and you will see that the too wide strainer is the channel through which clean water is dirtied.
Coincidentally, a few days ago, in a public debate about the radio, a person questioned the practice criticism because “it may give bullets to our enemies.” My position was the same I have always held: the enemy is delighted that we don’t criticize — they count on it. Certain mistakes, without public criticism, continue to do damage.
After Fidel Castro’s admonishment on November 17, 2005 —when he forecasted that our mistakes may do what the United States has never achieved— nobody should be able to sleep peacefully.
Criticism, which is not exclusive to the press, should also come from the party, the government, administrative and management meetings, union assemblies, neighborhood assemblies and their representatives—from the public— because many of the flaws are public. Like an old Latin saying goes, publica publice tractanda sunt, meaning that public mistakes should be dealt with in public to prevent harm to the community.
There’s something else before I finish. I would like to ask reader if he has ever tried to understand journalists. There might be some journalists who adapt themselves and can write while ignoring difficult questions; however, the heritage we have recieved from the time of Jose Marti to the present day —passing through Mella, Villena, Roa, Marinello, Che, Fidel— teaches us to unite political convictions with the role of the press.