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Cuba faces violence and silence in social media

mujeres violenciaOn Sunday, September 13, going viral on social media were condemnations of the verbal violence suffered by poet Teresa Melo, sociologist Mariela Castro and journalist Paquita Armas, who were attacked for their political positions and statements supporting the Cuban Revolution and the country’s institutionality.

More than a few noticed the silence of private means of communication and the voices of those who just recently joined an aggressive campaign against gender violence in Cuba, and other individuals who continually post contents supporting freedom of expression, and other rights, raising the question: Where are they now?

Others were not surprised in the least. Their absence only provided further evidence of the double standards of the discourse promoted by forces involved in political propaganda meant to discredit Cuba, which has nothing to do with a real commitment to defending rights or seeking solutions to social problems. I am not referring to the honest voices, not linked to this machinery, expressing concern about gender violence, and other social problems, on previous occasions and at this time.

Violence wielded in this manner is a regular practice used to silence women and men who advocate revolutionary political positions on a virtual media platform where liberal pro-capitalist thinking enjoys hegemony. Silence and differentiated responses to these forms of violence reveal complicity. Selectivity when it comes to what cases of violence are emphasized on digital media, and which ones are glossed over, exposes the agenda of those involved in media manipulation of our social problems.

The existence of a private media network devoted to the fabrication of opinion leaders in alliance with openly right-wing organizations, to produce political propaganda manipulating Cuba’s reality, thinly disguised as theoretical debate, along with media campaigns that suddenly appear online, are examples that reveal the fundamental objective of these forces: undermining the Cuban government and the restoration of capitalism. A structure exists to coordinate the work of these private media and their paid collaborators focused on destroying confidence in Cuba’s political order and its institutions, as well as those who defend them.

These media players are always on the lookout for the latest statistics, events, or anecdotes that they can employ to fabricate contents appealing to readers’ emotions, as opposed to reasoned critical analysis. They present themselves as exponents of critical thinking, when on the contrary they follow the line of the most conservative international currents and the “common sense” they promote.

The goal is to culturally colonize the collective imagination, impose pro-capitalist thinking and create the subjective conditions that could favor regime change and discredit, in virtual territory, any position of resistance that challenges anti-hegemonic values.

This explains the silence evident in the cases of aggression against revolutionary women: such violence serves their purpose, and therefore, they do not oppose it.

Going online today is to become aware that we are in the territory of an important war for control of the symbolic, of subjectivities. The mechanisms employed must be studied in greater depth, from a semiotic point of view. This is the road to be taken by social scientists committed to de-colonized thinking, in addition to the challenge of producing high quality contents on the improvement of our reality.

This is an issue Cuban institutions leave largely unaddressed on the web, or a communicational mistake by their representatives, of which our adversaries take advantage to mobilize and fabricate opposition to the Cuban political system, wherever a critical perspective regarding social media is lacking and where the influence of the avalanche of videos, memes and fake news demonizing Cuba holds sway.

In his remarks presenting the country’s current economic strategy, July 17, 2020, President Miguel Díaz-Canel warned of the ways in which “in the arena of law and society, (our adversaries) have not ceased searching for possible gaps in national unity, magnifying possible disagreement on sensitive issues like egalitarian marriage, racism, violence against women, the mistreatment of animals, to mention a few, on which we are working seriously to resolve centuries-old debts that only the Revolution in power has confronted, making unquestionable progress.”

Herein lies, perhaps, the most important point: the attention afforded the social problems manipulated by groups that see capitalism as the way forward. Denouncing the manipulation does not resolve the problem. Those who are intent on changing the system have no interest whatsoever in resolving these issues, they only use them. Capitalism aggravates every one of these problems. The settling of the debts, to which the President referred, must be seen as an inseparable part of transformative changes currently underway in the country.

Cuban institutions have two tasks, resisting the media offensive, not only reacting to it, but rather developing our own agenda. But they also have the mission of continuing to address social problems with concrete action, which is even more important, not simply to deny our enemies the opportunity to capitalize on our shortcomings, but because, above all, this is the Revolution’s reason for being. In this effort, we have a long record, although some may wish to hide this fact, this has been a historic, difficult battle to meet the demands of those who once had nothing.

Along with Benedetti, “We recognize that the revolution involves mistakes, wrong turns, detours, schematic errors. But we assume the revolution with its good and bad sides, with its light and its shadows, with its victories and its defeats, with its limitation and its breadth. Because, even with all its failures, with all its shortcomings, the revolution continues to be the only option for human beings to recover our dignity and realize our potential; the only possibility (over time or immediately, depending on the situation) to save ourselves from the alienation to which we are subjected by the capitalist order and colonial pressure.”

Given the new challenges and aggression from a virtual civil society which attacks us on orders from the United States, a minority in number but with millions in funding, we must avoid any complacency that could paralyze us.

May the push to move forward, to go for more, prevail – in the virtual world and the concrete.

(Source: Granma)

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