What the world knows about the real Cuba today is due to the island's independent journalists, who each day put at risk what little freedom they enjoy to break the Castro dictatorship's embargo on any news and information that doesn't serve its interests.
They are the epitome of the journalistic precept: Speaking truth to power.
As a journalist and as a Cuban, these men and women are my heroes.
A new online book published by the Institute for War and Peace Reporting showcases the work of 20 Cuban independent journalists:
A new book from IWPR provides insights on aspects of life in Cuba ranging from grave human rights abuses to the daily struggle of street traders.
With Open Voices contains articles written by 20 of the rising generation of independent journalists in Cuba in 2012 and 2013. Spanish and English parallel texts are illustrated with pictures that include work by renowned photographer Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo.
Fifty years after the revolution, the Cuban authorities continue to restrict access to information and persecute those who seek freedom of expression. The only media outlets allowed to operate are owned, controlled and censored by the state.
In her foreword, leading blogger and journalist Yoani Sánchez likens Cuba to an enclosed house with iron walls, inside which people live a life isolated from the outside world. The journalist’s job, she says, is to hammer away at those walls.
“Through a text, an image or the work of a whole lifetime, they have demonstrated that the pain of knowing is preferable to not knowing,” Sánchez wrote.
The articles in this book are a tribute to the tenacity and courage of citizen journalists who dare to seek out and tell the stories that reflect the reality of life in Cuba.
Twelve of the contributors were subject to arbitrarily detention just in the nine-month period covered by the book.
The stories in With Open Voices highlight change as well as stagnation at a critical juncture in Cuban history. Expanded economic freedoms, relaxed rules for foreign travel, and better internet access suggest that the government is waking up to the need for change, although in general, political and civil rights remain as rigidly constrained as ever.
With Open Voices is available to download from IWPR’s website here.
Among the journalists featured in the book are Calixto Ramon Martinez Arias, Alejandro Tur Valladares, Carlos Rios Otero, Magaly Norvis Otero Suarez and Roberto de Jesus Guerra Perez.
The book is available for free, in English and in Spanish.