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An Open Letter to the Havana Times

from Glen Roberts, editor,

    I'm not pious. The totems to which I DON'T bow include even democracy and press freedom, and, in fact, I'm sure that limitations on democracy in Cuba have helped make it the most civilized country I've ever seen. And it is civilization (not democracy) that I'M for VERSUS barbarism; and I've been on the scene and SEEN an irresponsible free press contribute to barbarism in Nicaragua, Venezuela and the U.S. Sorry if you don't like me saying that, but as a compulsive truth teller, I refuse to be diplomatic about a truth that important. As a journalist and professor of journalism, I've fought all my life for freedom of the press, but I know its limitations. In my critique of the Cuban press on my website, not to be diplomatic but to stay honestly progressive, I've tempered my call for more freedom and more content with respect for the Cuban revolution. If you've read that document, I hope you understand that, but reading the HT doesn't convince me that you do.
    Right now, until the dogs of the rich control the internet (and that's happening fast), the internet has freed the press - too much, as absolutely proven by the ugliness of most of the blogs hanging off your articles. The genie is out of the lamp, and Cuban leaders have to accept the inevitable and try to wisely steer their people toward responsible press freedom. But there's plenty not to like about that. Their past reluctance to move too quickly toward a democratic press was wise, and their probably futile effort to keep riding the brake now is benign. The press IS, after all, a powerful force which can and will be used insidiously against a revolution which deserves to be and must be protected.
    Better than that! A truly free and responsibly progressive press should now be holding the government to its and your Constituton by urging it to stop compromising and start moving faster and more directly through its socialist phase toward purer communism. But, with only a few exceptions on your staff, you're not doing that. Instead, like spoiled children drunk on the power of your poison pens, you're whining about trivialities while providing space for subversive propaganda.
    Whatever you may think, in the famous US "free market place of ideas," truth does NOT prevail either. To the contrary, though truth tellers literally CAN'T be silenced in the U.S., they can be and are drowned out, not just by mainstream media, but also by their fellow citizens who AREN'T truth tellers. As democratic use of the internet spreads, the wicked witch of hard reality has caused a forest of look-alike false prophets to spring up all around the authentic truth tellers and effectively hide them. You know something? That could happen and is happening in Cuba, too, including in the pages of the HT.
    Though the quality of unrepressed free speech in Cuba and of the Havana Times proves universal education works better in Cuba than in the U.S., as a realist, I'm forced to doubt that all or even most Cubans are equally able to exercise press freedom responsibly or intelligently. Most humans aren't. Sorry, but I had to say that.
    I'm surrounded by evidence at home, where the merely liberal US pro-democracy movement, born partly of revolutionary cowardice and over-reaction to the fall of Nicaragua and the Berlin Wall, has always been flawed by naivete and literally silly political correctness, and, while calling itself progressive, has become more regressive as its influence spreads, especially with the intellectually diluting help of the Twitter and Facebook pandemic. And, sorry again, but I think I see some of that influence in the Havana Times, most of which, in spite of the implication of the word Times in its title, truthfully, starting from the top of the page and literally blurring into its blog-board beard, looks and reads more like Facebook or Twitter than like a newspaper.
    A civilized state must forge social and economic equality. But intellectual and philosophical equality aren't in the nature of things and can't be invented - even in Cuba. Thanks very much to the parental guidance that rankles some Havana Times writers, the Cuban philosophical average is exceptional, but the democratic idea that when everybody talks, in spite of the din, some mystic majority wisdom will shine through - is not just questionable; it's not true. For sure, the certainly democratic U.S. philosophical swamp has always been more fertile for fascist barbarism than for civilization.
    During my 240 days (in seven visits) of walking all over Cuba randomly talking to Cubans, always remembering my experience in 15 other Latin American countries and a number of U.S. ghettos, I've been generally impressed by the Cubans' lack of any fear of cops or of the night or of wrong parts of town or of economic desperation; and also by their health, confidence, educated awareness, and eloquence, etc. etc. etc.; and I admire the eloquence of some (not most) Havana Times writers, but now that you're printing in Spanish and hopefully becoming accessible to more Cubans, I wonder what the effect will be. Right now, I don't think it's very constructive. To the extent that it is, you owe a lot of credit to the system that helped you hone your eloquence. You should wield it more carefully.

-Glen Roberts