Home > Miguel Iturria Savón > Where Are the Ethics?

Where Are the Ethics?

Between December 2009 and March 2010, death and defamation circled over Cuba, mostly not due to the earthquakes nor the usual treacherous campaigns against those who criticize the chaos of our aged leadership, but from the death due to cold of dozens of mental patients in the Mazorra hospital and the demise in prison of Orlando Zapata Tamayo, who maintained a hunger strike for more than 80 days to protest the mistreatment of his jailers.

The first event was overshadowed by the earthquake in Haiti, but reappeared in March like a boomerang with the Internet posting of photos taken by the pathologists. The allegations in the alternative press and the international repercussions from the event forced the government to break its silence and take action in the capital’s large mental hospital, where the conditions are hellish.

On the death of Zapata Tamayo, Guillermo Fariñas Hernández, independent journalist and former prisoner of conscience, declared a hunger strike in solidarity with the martyr and the score of political prisoners who are ill. The official response was provided by the journalists Enrique Ubieta Gómez, who denigrated Zapata Tamayo in Cuba Debate and Granma, and by Alberto Núñez Betancourt, author of a diatribe against Fariñas published in the official organ of the communists on Monday, March 8.

Both texts reiterate the intolerance, insolence and contempt for life of those who rule this Island like a camp under seige. They speak of mercenaries, criminals, blackmail and pressure, as if the leaders who think of themselves as gods would reduce to applause the tapestry of our diversity.

The censors did not hesitate to lie to confuse readers and minimize the impact of the unnecessary deaths. But the hammer that strikes the wall of intolerance came from within. The images of the demented and a man’s death from starvation behind bars are stronger than the defamation from the paid employees of the official press.

Both Ubieta Gómez and Núñez Betancourt violated the privacy of people who took on extreme challenges.  Neither knew the life and political trajectory of Orlando Zapata or of Guillermo Fariñas. Both started with a summary from the files handed over by the political police. Labeling these men as mercenaries and counter-revolutionary criminals in the service of a foreign country is as crass as it is unbelievable.

The intrusions on privacy and the distortion of the facts continued with the doctors and officials from the Ministry of the Interior who testified before the press — with information from hidden cameras and listening devices — to the detriment of political secrecy. The case involved the journalist Gladys Rubio, of the National Television News, in charge of the interviews regarding the death of Orlando Zapata.

Ans as if that were not enough, the knights of the Roundtable on Cuban television, dedicated their comments and images to denouncing the “Media Campaign Against the Cuban Government.” They included, of course, a montage about the medical care offered to the slain hunger striker. They added “other actions against the revolution,”such as the marches of the Ladies in White, and the “response of an enraged people,” by which we understand the gross incivility organized by the agents of State Security, who “guard” the Ladies who demand freedom for the political prisoners, which is not mentioned.

Behind the slurs, the voices of the regime hide a fear of the international demands for respect for Human Rights on the island. They denigrate the civil rights activists, provide the public with disinformation, and by the way, cover up the recent corruption scandals of of General Rogelio Acevedo, president of the Civil Aviation Institute, and of General Abelardo Colomé Ibarra,Minister of the Interior who shot his former wife three times.

Obliged to report, the regime’s reporters omit and distort. Privacy must not be used to hide events of social interest; the communicators must respect people, their dignity and decorum, but the relevancy of the event does not benefit those who exercise power.

And so, it’s the same old story and one must ask, “Where are the ethics?”

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