What ways we Cubans have to learn what’s going on! We have learned to read between the lines, to treat every new piece of information with suspicion, and to doubt the men in formal suits on the news. When a headline appears announcing “the service… is restored,” that is two pieces of news in one: the one never made public, that “the service isn’t working,” and the one that states that “now it works again.” The vegetarian restaurants, for example, that spread throughout the city and the media seven years ago, are now closed and not one official journalist has made a news report about it.
Yesterday we had reports that the students of the Eastern University, together with their professors, had a mass meeting to show their support to the Revolution. Something doesn’t fit, right? Because just a week ago there was a rumor that there was a protest, right there, over the awful conditions of the student residences, food, and transport. So, according to this stream of information, that takes us for children unable to make our own judgments, the national television has hidden from us, again, what’s going on, by not telling us about what happened in Santiago de Cuba.
We saw the Cuban delegation at the UN leaving their seats during Bush’s speech, but the words of the speech were never transmitted. We assisted in the mass signing of the “constitutional mummification” without hearing a word about the Varela Project, which obviously was meant to fight back against that action. In January, we saw in the newspaper Granma a cryptic statement from UNEAC (Union of Writers and Artists of Cuba), speaking of a certain intellectual controversy that was never made public in the media. Yesterday we saw the Bolivian Chief of Foreign Relations demanding that the United States ambassador retract some statements we never knew about.
The pages and minutes of our news are full of half truths, chopped news, and silences. Once in a while a survey about the condition of the balances in the markets, or about the price of the private taxis, tries to shade, unsuccessfully, the image of a paradise. Every day we must be real information archeologists to fill in the blanks of the news.
With a big share of rumor, a share of intuition, and few confirmations, we Cubans build up our information and references. You can figure out the results!