May 28th, 2009
The official press has taken issue with The Reuters News Agency in that, according to Granma (Monday May 25th, page 3) “it almost considers it a fact”, like a ghost on the scene, “the return of blackouts”. Naturally, the Reuters wire was not repeated. However, it is easy to understand the foreign agency’s “confusion” if one takes a look at the Cuban press last week:
Several articles published on May 16th, 18th, 20th, 22nd and 23rd, in Granma itself have been referring to an “over-consumption of fuel” during the first quarter of this year, which meant the upcoming implementation of a “provincial directive plan of electricity consumption for state and residential sectors”. They have also stressed the urgent need (with no postponement and inevitable) to save energy under penalty of facing blackouts; of the Island’s alarming trade imbalance (78% of imports compared with 22% of exports); of the lack of liquidity (an already recurring theme); of the importance of beginning to be really productive and efficient on all economy fronts and actions, as well as the measures, without exemption, taken against leaders who do not fulfill their obligations to “enforce and monitor compliance of the plan” or those who do not efficiently apply the money and resources the state has put in their hands”, etc. etc.
This is only a summary of the growing alarm reflected in the press. Economic problems, mainly those related to energy and agriculture, are the handiest ones of the ever-inadequate national spectrum report. Add to that the fact that, at the end of each newscast, TV broadcasters are geared to appeal to saving energy, in a campaign that –we know- precedes worse times. Granma director Lázaro Barredo’s inflamed invectives repeatedly refer to “the spending mentality” we Cubans have, an attitude that “becomes more intolerable in these moments” due to the global economic crisis. Barredo raises his little index finger admonishingly and explains to us unequivocally: “It is imperative to cut out that false and selfish mentality that many people have in thinking that when they pay the wasteful home or office electric bill they have resolved the matter. This illusion will lead us to blackouts, because there is no more money…
Any way, if –according to the official press- we are irresponsibly wasteful if we are unproductive, if we do not know enough to demand of our incompetent leaders (here Barredo launched himself into dangerous play), if we import infinitely far more than we export, if now the cardinal field of foreign income is the “savings” (even the apocalyptic slogan “Savings or Death” is invoked), if it is finally recognized the THERE IS NO MONEY, is it Reuters who is invoking ghosts? Let us not forget that almost from the beginning of this year, several municipalities in the capital have been subjected to long hours of unannounced blackouts, be it because of “repairs” or for “modernization and optimization of electrical networks” For its part, the front page of Sunday’s Juventud Rebelde (May 24th) rather than the misled call to a “powerful consensus to weather the storm” seems more like an epitaph.
Today, the most telling sign of the crisis in which we live and of its imminent worsening is the abandonment of the triumphant spirit by the press, by virtue of which, until recently, most Cubans aspired to live in newspaper or on TV news as the only way to achieve prosperity. The change in tone of the official voice is also an indicator of the new times, because although the crisis of the 90’s in the last century struck us suddenly and without warning, now the social landscape is different, and the Cuban government, being aware of it, has begun to unleash the poverty chronicle through the coaching of public opinion, which we might well call the “Special Media Period”. Thus, at least, when the endless nosedive to the bottom accelerates, they will be able to say: “I told you so,” and to once more easily place the blame of the disaster on us.