The Magicians of Empty Text
The Magicians of Empty Text / Angel Santiesteban
Posted on April 29, 2015
Every 21st of the month, my family — in their visits to my penitentiary
— supply me with the national newspapers. Many times they accuse me of
masochism, but I find it necessary because it helps me understand where
the Government’s nonsense is going.
Sometimes — after much practice — I can infer, almost guess, the
political, cultural and populist strategies that they outline. I invest
around twelve hours reading, and I can’t hide the fact that, once I
complete the aberrant task, the journalists’ cowardice stays with me,
their “robotic” writing that translates the boss’s order of editing to
cover specified news, after those bosses have received it in a chain
that begins in the ideological office of the Central Committee of the
As a Cuban, a writer, a citizen immersed in the daily social problems of
Cubans on the ground, I am ashamed of those who — unfortunately — have
access to those spaces, because they, unfortunately, stick to the
subject matter ordered by the Government.
In the last Congress of the Cuban Journalists Union (UPEC), there was
talk and boasting of an “opening” that would do away with “secretism.”
That speech was a joke. They were talking about another country, another
system, with different leaders. Immediately there was an echo from some
“journalists,” very good at repeating the government line, magicians of
the empty text. Now, one year later, probably no one remembers that
bland, misleading propaganda, which simply impressed a collective that
displays sheepishness like no other sector in the country.
I finish reading the pile of newspapers and am left with a sensation of
betrayal from the names I recognize. They are incapable, at the least,
of being honest with themselves, those who say that the projects in the
Cuban nation are in full swing, although it’s not important to them
where the old Castros and their fawning followers are taking them.
Twenty-one days of articles and feature stories, which assure us that
Cuba is Paradise (although there are things that need to be changed),
and that outside its borders you live in Hell.
The press has no other intention than to deceive and terrorize people,
who should continue with their heads bowed, because a rebellious
attitude is too agonizing.
Someone once told me that as a psychological defense, in order to stay
sane, you laugh at the economic and other news, and about how much
deceit you’re already saturated with. As much as I try, I can’t even
crack a smile. What I feel is pain for those common intellectuals who –
after being kicked and humiliated in the decade of the ’70s – today
pretend they have forgotten. They write for a press that is as worn-down
as they are, and are incapable of expressing their own opinion, one that
is different, authentic. They conform to being that way, filling a
harmless space without being straight, with the dictators’ vision.
Border Control Prison. Havana. April 2015.
Translated by Regina Anavy
Source: The Magicians of Empty Text / Angel Santiesteban | Translating