In an island where its rulers try to control the flow information with an iron grip, another important step towards freedom was taken on Tuesday October 4th, in the city of Guantanamo, Cuba, when activists from the Eastern Democratic Alliance launched ADO-Press, an independent news agency of this opposition group. This agency, with its headquarter in Eastern Cuba, joins the group of various independent news agencies that report what truly occurs in the country.
Independent journalist and blogger and also member of this new agency, Luis Felipe Rojas Rosabal was present and reported that there were 18 activists in the home of Isael Poveda Silva, where the event was held.
According to Rojas, who in addition serves as a correspondent for ADO-Press, “the first objective of the organization is to let everyday Cubans know the reality of what occurs in Cuba, without ideological inclinations, considering that the state-run media responds only to one political party and does not respectfully represent the people“. The activist added that in order to be that voice the agency will report news about social problems that directly affect ‘everyday’ Cubans, such as issues of housing, jobs, health, education, along with the human rights crisis on the island which also affects all inhabitants.
In the important meeting they also announced the executive members of ADO-Press. The director is Rodolfo Barthelemy Cobas and the Sub-Director is Caridad Caballero Batista, well known dissident and independent journalist from Holguin.
Caballero Batista emphasized that the goal of ADO-Press is “to continue denouncing the crimes committed against Cubans and so that the world knows of the critical situation occurring on the island“. According to the activist, one of the most serious problems affecting the island is the situation of political prisoners who are punished and tortured for their political ideas and peaceful demonstrations.
In addition, ADO-Press will consist of journalistic work carried out by other correspondents such as Emilio Leyva, Randy Caballero Suárez, Isael Poveda Silva, Raudel Ávila Losada, and Rolando Rodríguez Lobaina.
“Previously, we carried out our journalism in a more independent way, each of us on our own“, explains Batista, “now we do it in a more organized form through this agency“, explaining that in addition to the denouncements which ADO-Press will publish, they will also announce dissident activities so that everyday Cubans, that are perhaps not involved directly with the Resistance, know about the latest events, who the peaceful dissidents are, and for what reasons they are fighting.
In order to reach this objective, the Eastern Democratic Alliance, according to Luis Felipe Rojas, will use new technologies “like Twitter and blogs- such as ‘Palenque Cubano’ (the Alliance’s blog), or mine, ‘Crossing the Barbed Wire’, and others- as a platform” in order to send out news from Eastern Cuba to the rest of the country and the world.
In addition to correspondent, Rojas will also be adviser of new technology usage, teaching courses on how to use such technologies in an efficient manner while applying journalistic techniques. He already began teaching some of these classes during the launching of ADO-Press, helping various dissidents to open their own Twitter accounts and sending their first messages, such as Yanet Mosquera (@yanetmosquera), Yoandri Montoya (@yoandrimon) , Julio Mone (@monebor), and Caridad Caballero (@caricaballero).
“Despite all the fear the regime has and all the censorship it applies, we will continue publishing this news and sharing it with the world. It is something very necessary“, affirms Caridad Caballero Batista.
After the ceremony celebrating the creation of ADO-Press, the activists premiered a documentary, produced and filmed by Palenque Vision- the Eastern Democratic Alliance audio visual group- titled “Cuban Prisons: A Sequence of Terror”. The film explores the horrors of Cuban prisons, and according to the spectators, it was a success. Copies of the movie were burned onto CDs and handed out among those present as well as to neighbors and other Cubans on the street.
News agencies such as ADO-Press in Eastern Cuba, and Hablemos Press with its headquarters in Havana, represent a new generation of citizens who are tired of the rhetoric and censorship of the state-controlled media. These journalists/activists have been able to surpass the wall of censorship imposed on information by the government, sending messages to the exterior and informing those outside of the country, but they still face large obstacles in order to form their fellow citizens within Cuba. The oppressive apparatus of the political police frequently interrupts and disables phone signals, prohibits the free us of internet, and censors any news on important events such as massive protests or cases of human rights violations on the national media. It is difficult for a Cuban without links to the Resistance (and in many cases even dissidents themselves) to inform themselves, free of propaganda, in a rapid and efficient manner. Though they are forbidden to partake in any television, radio, or written media spaces in their own country, the professional and extensive work carried out by these activists will continue to be spread throughout the island in whichever way possible, whether it be through handing out pamphlets and CDs or by carrying out public conferences. Agencies such as ADO-Press are willing to confront the obstacles, working towards dismantling the state-monopoly over information, an essential step for achieving the ultimate freedom of a country.