Poverty may be, but what can not be is dishonor
Ever since I can recall my family has strictly applied this phrase by Jose Marti and my father repeats it nonstop.
In a context like ours, it is necessary to clarify the obvious with much thought. Since UPEC´s last plenary, according to some digital media and according to the continuous gossiping of the tragicomic press world, some of the most talented and youngest Cuban journalists were moving to foreign media, particularly OnCuba, mainly on a lucrative basis.
This is a dangerous idea, and false in many senses. It takes implicit, and not so implicitly, the suggestion of a topic, let´s say, mercantile: money governs. I am not one of the most talented young journalists –how crazy is that–, in fact, I don´t believe in the use of that term, but I am certainly one of the youngest and unquestionably one of the most honest too.
I can not speak for the rest of my colleagues, but I can speak for myself. Believing that I publish in OnCuba and not in La Jiribilla for an economic matter is a mean argument. My salary in OnCuba barely suffices to pay a poor rent or hardly survive. Of course, I am not complaining. My idea of happiness does not encompass by any chance the deliberate search of material benefits. I am somehow satisfied because I get paid more than I would receive in any state media, but mostly because I publish exactly what I think and the way I think, something that would not be possible in the current Cuban press.
Believing that my opinions, any of them, are expressed just for the sake of earning five or ten dollars, is an idea that could only come from those who have had position or comfort due to hoisting certain banners (political, of course). It could only come from those who have parked a car, built a house, and assured themselves a few internet megas, on top of their way of thinking. However, I, without any traces of pretension, do not find myself in such situation because a car, a house, and internet are not objectives for me. My only objective are precisely my ideas and my ideas are the only property over which I could never step on, they are not for negotiation. They are not for travelling, living, sailing. I would only cash a salary if they are taken as they come (for some reason OnCuba is interested in my ideas as they come), without the least commitment with morality or power, without the least commitment with myself.
I guess this suspicion arises because the country, playing irresponsibly with its possible futures, has become an explicit business for thousands of people. But I do not turn Yoani Sanchez into a heroine and then the SINA pays me for that, I don´t go to the Olympic Games nor to any World Series by stepping premeditatedly on Cuban sports, overlooking the real situation, the deep pit they made it fall into and arguing, for the worse, the evil idea that one remains in one´s job not for our own sake but for improving national journalism, or because in order to criticize the press it is necessary to do it from the inside (let´s paraphrase News abstract: if any of my readers would see himself identified, be known that is the purpose). The fact that you take a slice is enough, but the fact that you justify it as sacrifice, ecumenical work, seems to me a huge offense.
I challenge anyone to look in my writing for a paragraph, a line, a word, an accent that degrades itself from the first chronicle I publish in Cubadebate, in the winter of 2010 to the present column. If you publish and work for free, as me and my friends did for a long time in Cubadebate (I have never been so happy as journalist), if you are able to maintain freedom just for the sake of it, if your are able to speak just for the sake of it, then you will understand that money can not corrupt you. To expose yourself, and charge for it, is less difficult than expose yourself and not charge, is less difficult than expose yourself because you think there is something to do or something that has not been said as it should. Any changes in my journalism, I can assure that, follows evolution, the logical line of a way of thinking, not the inopportune breaches that contracts bring about. At least journalists and officials will know for certain how I think, something that can not be assured of the right ones, always homogeneous, if we take into account the number of exemplary bosses or activists that have abandoned their posts during special reports.
At first, I couldn´t understand students who published just for the fake reward of public recognition, for seeing their names at least in an official note. Now I don´t get journalists who, in a way or another, under false coverage, negotiate with journalists, when there are much more profitable jobs, in which it is not necessary to give your word, or degrade to a purpose other than absolute honesty.
The fact that OnCuba has succeeded in gathering journalists such as Charly Morales, Yuris Nórido or Alejandro Rodríguez, the fact that it publishes chronicles like Sitio Yera, is rather a merit of the magazine than a flaw of state press, and UPEC´s plenary should be aware of that. It is not that OnCuba took them in but that the Cuban press let them go. Because, and I perfectly recall this example, if Rosa Miriam Elizalde hadn’t rescued Michel Contreras when the newspaper El Habanero shut down three years ago, and had taken him to Cubadebate, Contreras would have ended up in the magazine Mujeres, or in his living room. Here, obviously, there are two questions with the same answer. How is it possible that Contreras, the best Cuban sports journalist of Eladio Secades until present day, would end up in a thematic magazine as that one far away from sports? And what was he doing in a provincial newspaper like El Habanero, when he should have been working for Granma or Juvetud Rebelde newspapers?
The fact that I can say from OnCuba itself that its success is indirect, that the credit not only goes to its editors or directors (although a considerable volume does, right?) is enough argument to take it into account. Anyway, if anyone believes that OnCuba is strictly money, and not, probably in the first instance, the chance of a more decent journalism, I offer to take right away my column (if not talented, at least honest and young) to the pages of a national media for free, with the single condition that when I say that the house is falling no one comes saying the picture is out of focus.
Just as well, I leave everything and take a full time rest in a closed room, my novels and my verses, which are, according to the prophecy, my only mission on earth, to rave a little; besides, no plenary is interested in novels and verses. However, if that is not the case, if I become millionaire in OnCuba, do not sentence me as you launched me to the luxury and didn’t give me the opportunity of being poor.