Character Assassination in Cuba

There are many ways of eliminating a person; one of them is destroying his /her credibility. For the first time academics and journalists with different political backgrounds analyze the practice of character assassination of persons and social groups that the Cuban government has exercised for half a century.
Honor is something that many persons value more than life. Throughout history there have been individuals who have got involved in duels to death for issues of honor. Nations had entered war or annihilated entire sectors of their own population allegedly to protect the honor of the homeland or that of a particular ethnic group or race.
The practices of character assassination examined in The other wall (El otro paredón) are not equivalent to those that could be used by an opposition political party against the government, or a group of unsatisfied consumers against a restaurant. We refer to an organized form of state terrorism oriented towards the deliberate and total destruction of the credibility of a person, group or institution.

Carlos Marquez Sterling

Carlos Marquez Sterling was a prominent and extremely honest Cuban politician who chaired the Constitutional Assembly of 1940 that produced the most advanced constitution of the Americas. In the 1950’s Marquez Sterling was opposed to resorting to political violence as a mean to restore democracy after Batista’s coup. For that reason he was the target of assassination attempts by the movement led by Fidel Castro and after 1959 he was the victim of an unscrupulous smearing campaign of the Cuban Government.

The other wall (El otro paredón) examines this topic through the Cuban experience of the last five decades. It analyses several cases in which these practices were carried out against the politician Carlos Márquez Sterling, the businessman Amadeo Barletta, the journalist Carlos Alberto Montaner, and two academic centers created by the socialist regime.
Rafael Rojas, well-know Cuban intellectual and the most outstanding historian of its generation, centers his analysis on the way in which the Cuban regime dedicated efforts at an early stage to construct an official historiography that helps to legitimize its power.
Uva de Aragon, a well known writer of the Cuban historical exile, -for whom the absence of hate and the support for national reconciliation has been constant themes -, analyzes the way in which the political pre revolutionary class was demonized, even before 1959, and the arbitrary way in which the reputations of its members, -including that of his father, Dr. Carlos Márquez Sterling, who honorably and with great fairness chaired the Constituent Assembly in 1940- were smeared.

Amadeo Barletta 1925

The first company of Amadeo Barletta was the Santo Domingo Motors Company, established on September 12, 1920 with bank credit. His father-in-law warned him that there were no more than 10 potential car buyers in Santo Domingo. Barletta later confirmed in an interview: «He was right. I only sold three cars in the first year». But four years later the Santo Domingo Motors had a profit level that allowed him to open his second company: the Dominican Tobacco and Co. It was always a business policy of Amadeo Barletta to reinvest his profits in the country in which he was residing.

Juan Antonio Blanco uses the example of the attacks aimed against businessman Amadeo Barletta to show the way the Cuban government has also applied the techniques of character assassination, to arbitrarily confiscate the properties of this businessman, and then, years later, to divert the attention of national and international public opinion when the Cuban military turned out to be involved in a scandal for drug trafficking operations in 1989.

Carlos Alberto Montaner and CIA

The main source of attacks against Carlos Alberto Montaner is signed by a Canadian journalist who fled to Cuba, Jean Guy Allard. The photo on the left is from the blog “The Liberal Republican” (El Republicano Liberal). On the right is the same photo, but the background was edited to add the logo of the CIA. This doctored picture was then posted on the blog “Cambios en Cuba” (Changes in Cuba) of Manuel Henriquez Lagarde reproducing an article by Jean-Guy Allard against Montaner. Henriquez Lagarde regularly publishes aggressive articles against the blogger Yoani Sánchez and the independent press in Cuba.

Another two authors, Ana Julia Faya and Carlos Alberto Montaner, show through their personal experiences how -even standing at opposite perspectives (Marxist and Liberal)-, both have also been targeted for harassment by this form of state terrorism called character assassination.
But the time of reputation assassins is coming to an end, in spite of prejudices and misconceptions that are still widespread in Cuban society. The encouraging thing happening in Cuba is not the government’s swinging positions on possible reforms, but the genuine change occurring in the minds and attitudes of normal citizens The younger generation is not accepting anymore the official versions on persons and events. They now want to investigate the truth of what really happened in all these decades. The people — included party militants and government’s officials — are losing their fear of speaking.
And there is a lot to speak about and to understand.

Carlos Franqui

The photo of the left was taken when Fidel Castro calls to the general strike in January, 1959. Carlos Franqui is shown at the center of the picture. Later, when Franqui went to the exile, the Cuban government manipulated the photo to erase him, as is appreciated on the photo on the right.

Historians’ role is not restricted to using a rigorous and impartial methodology to determine the way in which events really happened and how each person acted. We also need to place facts in context to be able to reach a better comprehension of why everyone lined up the way they did during this long conflict. A future reconciliation between Cubans demand this contextualized understanding of perceptions and past performances. Until then The other wall will provide public opinion the version of some of the victims of character assassinations attacks.

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