Home > Miguel Iturria Savón > Between Praise and Prophecy

Between Praise and Prophecy

The Uruguayan Fernando Ravsberg, BBC correspondent in Havana, seems the most dynamic and controversial foreign reporter on the island, where he has family and links with various social strata, which gives certain advantages in the perception of Cuban affairs, evident in his reports, interviews and reviews and in his blog posts (http://www.bbc.co.uk / Letters from Cuba), with which he rounds out his professional performance.

As a free man, Ravsberg has  access the Internet from home, a car, a decent salary, he can travel without state permission and is able to consult news sources closed to the bloggers and independent journalists, whom he keeps at a distance in the name of impartiality, and to avoid contacts with the enemies of regime which provides his press credentials.

Judging by his writings Ravsberg believes neither in the Castro regime nor in the peaceful opposition, which he minimizes, keeping a low profile. Sometimes he acts as a sniper but tries to tell the truth, providing context and measuring all news by the same standard, which is difficult in any setting and almost impossible in ours, marked by censorship and disinformation as it is.

Maybe that’s why Uruguayan correspondent compares the prisoners of conscience in Cuba with Muslim terrorists jailed in the Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay United States, talks about his neighbors from Havana who send money to relatives in Madrid or Florida, and offers wide-ranging generalizations that oscillate between prophecy and speculation.

Ravsberg is not a prophet in Havana, but comes out with phrases that Muhammad would envy. Days ago, in an interview with Emiliano Cotelo for El Espectador of Uruguay, he elaborated on the “negotiations” between the Catholic Church and the government of Raul Castro, to whom he gave the benefit of the doubt. Here are some of his claims.

“… it is the first time the government has found a domestic partner to discuss national political issues. To date, the dialog had been with other countries, other governments, parliaments … ”

I don’t know if the categorical Don Fernando knows that in the late seventies, the Castro regime released nearly 4,000 political prisoners, after discussion with some of them and with representatives from the exile in Miami, who then helped with the mass exodus from the port of Mariel (1980). Thus, they got around the Catholic Church and the Cuban Commission for Human Rights. Then they again filled the prisons.

In reviewing the most pressing problems plaguing the island, he affirmed that the issue of political prisoners is “not massively interesting” to Cubans, since they does not have a strong democratic tradition, their interest is focused on achieving material development. Were surveys conducted to substantiate this claim? Does he know that there are thousands of political prisoners for alleged crimes of bombings, social dangerousness and other pretexts? How many relatives and friends of prisoners have been interviewed on BBC?

As if that were not enough, the interviewed reporter prophesied that at “an economic and even political level, Cuba is going toward a model very similar to that of Vietnam.” Has he studied China, Vietnam or North Korea? Sociologically, or economically? Or does be believe in comparisons coined by the Cubanologists?

Although this man has spent many years living in Havana, he still doesn’t understand how we Cubans differ from the Chinese and Vietnamese model of dominaiton, which can fascinate our mandarins, but does not apply to the idiosyncrasies of the Cubans; we know how to unravel many topics and unmask intentions and circumstances. I wish we were as industrious, patient and disciplined as Asians. Time will tell what Raul Castro manages to accomplish with his internal tightening.

According to Ravsberg, “The Catholic Church has supported Raul Castro from the beginning… he is most pragmatic, is reorganizing the country, committed to institutionalizing the process” — understanding the dictatorship — and doesn’t receive “too much international pressure.” He adds that, “the opposition if weak and with little influence.”

There’s no point in pointing out to F.R. the things he doesn’t understand, he tries to speak truth without angering the tyranny, sometimes for the better, others in the post of a prophet or sociologist and even with a touch of humor, as in the story of the detention of Yoani Sanchez, when the police categorized her with a magic word, counterrevolutionary, scaring away the people who were watching.

Like the Cheshire Cat in Alice in Wonderland, the BBC correspondent in Havana points to the way forward. We will see if the haste of the White Rabbit stops the Mad Hatter in time.

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