The Secrets of Secretismo
14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar, 16 April 2017 — The term secretismo
(secretiveness), to refer to the absence or delay of certain information
of public interest in the Cuban official media, began to be used first
among critics of the system, until it came to appear in the speeches of
the highest officials of the government.
The list of what the official media has never reported, or only reported
with an inexplicable delays, deserves a thorough study, which in
addition to filling thousands of pages, would serve to better understand
the country’s most recent history.
Among the headings to organize the list of the omitted would be: deaths,
destitutions, desertions, economic failures, military defeats,
diplomatic fiascos, serious damage to nature, consequences of mistakes
made, and even data on the rates of suicides, divorces or emigration,
along with references to the country’s debt or to the decrease in Gross
Domestic Product. All this and more has fallen into that black hole of
The temptation to offer some examples would lead us to mention, among
other pearls, the forced relocation of peasants from the Escambray in
the 1960s, the disastrous effects of the whim of trying to produce 10
million tons of sugar in 1970, the collapse of the military operation in
Granada in 1983, the consequences that the epidemic of polyneuritis
brought in the most difficult years of the Special Period, and more
recently the clinical causes of Fidel Castro’s death.
The response that has often been given to criticism of secretismo has
ranged from the most tenacious justification, based on being a country
threatened by the most powerful power in the world, to the pretense of
blaming the mid-level cadres.
It has been this way since the days when party ideologue Carlos Aldana
pontificated on the need to have “critical, militant and creative
journalism,” right up to our time when Raúl Castro himself advised
before the parliament: “It is necessary to put on the table all the
information and the arguments that underlie each decision and step, to
suppress the excess of secretismo to which we have habituated ourselves
during more than 50 years of enemy encirclement.”
These self-critical pretenses have had the peculiarity of appearing in
cycles, which has given the permanent impression of being on the eve of
an always timid and incomplete opening. The journalistic guild has been
perhaps the most victimized with these frequent promises, made in
Congresses of the Union of Cuban Journalists (UPEC) or in informal
meetings with the press.
When it seems that “now we are going to end the secretismo” the promise
of promulgating a new electoral law disappears, the head of the
commission in charge of implementing the Party’s guidelines disappears,
and the sale of premium gasoline is suspended without any media of the
official press daring to review or comment on what happened.
Even the euphemism of using the word “secretismo” to refer to what
strictly must be called censorship, only serves to cover up what is
supposed to be revealed. It is a crime of linguistic injury whose result
lies in keeping in obscurity what outwardly is illuminated.
Source: The Secrets of Secretismo – Translating Cuba –