It is rare to find among Cuban press any commentary or feature specifically devoted to our President; who leads the nation collectively, and with the absolute conviction that only with the efforts of all will the country advance as we need it to.
We journalists also figure among this “all.” Those who do not comply properly with our role, and prefer to abuse of adjectives when describing any of the thousands of actions that the country undertakes, and which do not always advance with the speed or quality that they should.
However, it is encouraging to note the large amount of young journalists who, in each of our media outlets, have begun to “see realities” that others didn’t see, or that were doctored.
They investigate, question, and strongly criticize when a site is window-dressed for a scheduled visit by an official, who reports “how well” things are going there.
The reporter, the cameraperson, the photographer, reveal to the country, with increasing objectivity, the underlying reasons for any delay in completing works, for the very poor quality of some of them; the mistreatment of the population when accessing a service; or the indifference of a parent who simply “hands over” his or her child to their school, leaving the teachers alone responsible for his or her education.
We all still fail to act whenever we see something that may be wrong, and not just because of slogans or personal involvement.
Indifference, or the “don’t pick a fight” attitude, can’t be the response when we go to a hospital where huge investments have been made to guarantee the comprehensive health of the people, and while we wait our turn for an expensive heart test, we observe a dirty wall, a piece of paper or cotton on the floor, or listen to someone loudly demanding attention, regardless of the fact that the doctor or specialist in charge of their case is attending to another patient, perhaps with greater urgency, or simply because he or she arrived first.
Many Cuban journalists had the opportunity – I would say the privilege – to carry out professional missions alongside Fidel, during his tours of the country, visits to hospitals, schools, farms, sugarcane fields and mills and many others, or on trips abroad to fulfill international commitments.
Fidel was a true school for journalists. He was never indulgent regarding what we did, but always conscientious that our function was fulfilled well and with all guarantees.
It was almost impossible to follow him, because Fidel visited all kinds of places, exposed himself to risks, saw and “touched” everything. He questioned with more vehemence than any of us. He put his hand on our shoulders to engage in a dialogue that could last minutes or perhaps hours. We had to convince him when we presented him with an idea, or when he had read or heard a newspaper report that did not completely satisfy him.
Fidel was always like that, and he is remembered in every place, in every country, in every heart of the grateful millions who feel his presence around the world, thanks to all his work, his courage, ethics, his perseverance, and his vision of the future.
But I always observed that very few people – in Cuba and abroad – called him President, even though he was. The title Comandante became so familiar, so close – and so respectful of his rank – that we always wanted him to be just that: the Comandante.
Today, in the Cuba of continuity, Miguel Díaz-Canel, who was his student, has graduated from his school to fulfill the tasks assigned by the Comandante.
Today, the President of Cuba, who has moved – and convinced – everyone with his capacity for direct and systematic contact with his people, carries under his arm the handbook that contains that important lesson signed by Fidel Castro Ruz, the Comandante.
The President of continuity is respected and admired. He is advised, because he demands it. He considers the press a part of his work team.
He criticizes what is badly done, and demands with all moral authority that leaders at all levels be in contact with the people, hear their complaints, help find solutions when all they have been met with is bureaucracy.
He pays great attention to every detail, to anniversaries, patriotic holidays. He promised journalists that he would open a Twitter account, and make use of it as part of his work leading the country, and he has kept his word.
He appears confident when speaking with experts on any subject. He talks with campesinos, workers and scientists. He’s ahead of the game in terms of his command of the latest communication technologies, and demands that these be explained to the people, in the simplest language, but contributing knowledge and conviction in such a priority issue of our times.
He is a tireless President, a close family member accustomed to watching television reports of his continuous tours told me; and always leaves space to hear from the people, to converse with them, in the style of the Comandante.
In Raúl’s embraces when welcoming him back from any tour, there is affection, security, confidence. The Army General knows that continuity is guaranteed, and that Fidel, from his eternal resting place, is present in every action of the new President.
BRIEF REVIEW OF DÍAZ-CANEL’S 2018 EXCHANGES WITH THE PEOPLE
- Visits sites of economic and social interest of the capital
- Travels to the site of the tragic plane crash, May 18
- Participates in the Meteoro Exercise
- Visits the Calixto García Hospital, Institute of Forensic Medicine, and Hotel Tulipán
- Visits the Alimentos Cuba 2.0 Fair
- Meets with Cuban artists
- Visits Institute of Hematology and Immunology
- Participates in the FEU assembly at the University of Havana
- Government visit to Santiago de Cuba
- Government visit to Granma
- Attends Gente de Zona and Laura Pausini concert in Havana’s Ciudad Deportiva
- Government visit to Villa Clara
- Government visit to Sancti Spíritus
- Government visit to Cienfuegos
- Government visit to Matanzas
- Visits Florencia municipality
- Tours the Food Industry Research Institute
- Visits the José Martí Steel Enterprise, Antillana de Acero
- Government visit to Holguín
- Matanzas: Examines the repair program for fuel storage tanks and their commercialization
- Working visit to Villa Clara
- Tours sites of social and economic interest in the capital
- Participates in the INDER Management Board, which critically addressed Cuba’s performance in the Barranquilla Central American and Caribbean Games
- Tours the Abdala Studios
- Government visit to Pinar del Río
- Assesses damages following Hurricane Michael in Batabanó
- Attends the Los Van Van concert on the staircase of the University of Havana, to open the 11th University Book and Literature Festival
- Government visit to Ciego de Ávila
- Government visit to Camagüey
- Government visit to Artemisa
- Government visit to the Isle of Youth
- Visit to Guantánamo, which begins with tours of the municipalities of Baracoa and Maisí
- Visits the University of Havana’s Law School
- Meets with workers of the People’s Supreme Court and the Office of the Attorney General of the Republic of Cuba
- Presides the best athletes of the year awards ceremony