Granma veterans recall his nocturnal visits to the daily, to review an editorial he had written, polish a note, or present guidelines for covering pressing issues. He would ask about the latest news, public reactions to certain subjects, and converse intensely with editors, writers, and the government leaders who accompanied him.
For Fidel, the press always was, is, and will be, a natural medium, a space where ideas are conveyed. His mark on Cuban journalism is remarkable and fundamental.
The young Fidel, in the growing stage of his political stature, found in the press a field of battle against the enshrined corruption of the frustrated Republic. His articles appeared not only in the printed press, but were heard in his voice on radio. From the daily Alerta to the COCO station, supported by Guido García Inclán, Fidel's words demonstrated his vocation for struggle.
When the dictatorship usurped government power, his sharp words were heard, this time via an alternative publication he himself created, El Acusador, featuring editorials signed with his pseudonym, Alejandro. He was direct, writing, “The moment is revolutionary and not political." In the only copy of La Palabra, confiscated in April of 1952 by Batista's henchmen, he meant to distribute an article laying bare the nature of the dictatorship.
After the amnesty produced by popular pressure, the leader of the Moncada assault and the July 26th Movement refused to be silenced by efforts to discredit the just patriotic cause. In interviews he gave and in his own articles, sometimes in Bohemia or La Calle, Fidel denounced the outrages and maneuvers, building consciousness in a wide audience and calling for continued battle, for as long as he was able to stay in Cuba and after his exile in Mexico, to prepare the final definitive phase of the liberation struggle.
The insurrectional press benefited from his leadership and collaboration. The Cubano Libre and Radio Rebelde, on which he spoke for the first time April 15, 1958, from the heart of the Sierra Maestra, served to disseminate concepts and details of the revolutionary strategy.
It was no accident that beginning January 1, 1959, the communications media played a decisive role in the clarification of political positions; in forging unity; confronting aggression by imperialism and its allies; directing the implementation of measures; recovering historical memory; and civic development. All of this without leaving aside the encouragement of constructive criticism, debate on problems, or analysis of errors and shortcomings, aspects of Fidel's thinking which Cuban journalists are still assimilating.
For those of us who have lived more than 50 years of radical revolutionary changes, the Comandante came into our homes on our television screens, from his 250-minute appearance on the Ante la prensa (Meet the Press) program, the day he was sworn in as Prime Minister of the Revolutionary government, through the Mesa Redonda (Round table) news talk-show, launched on his initiative in December of 1999.
Over the years, he has kept the reach of radio in mind, and has stayed updated on informative programs, their impact within and outside of the country, and even during extreme weather events, has been concerned about the population's access to radio equipment and batteries.
Granma and Juventud Rebelde are his creations, which exemplify his conception of journalism at the service of the Revolution and the people.
He has made a profession of using words as the vehicle for ideas, about which we must reflect, given its political dimension, its communicative reach, and ethical standards. During the last decade, articles and commentaries he has written evidence the wisdom of a loyal soldier, committed to humanist values.
How can one not subscribe to his comments on the press and journalism during his long interviews with Ignacio Ramonet in the book One hundred hours with Fidel:
"I am fully convinced, given the experience I have lived, that values can be sowed in the souls of people, in their intelligence, in the hearts of human beings. We don't walk around hypocritically talking about "freedom" of the press… We dream of another freedom of the press, in an educated, well-informed country, in a country that possesses a comprehensive general culture, and can communicate with the world. Because those who fear free thinking do not educate the people, they do not support them, don't try to ensure that they acquire the highest level of culture, or deep historical and political knowledge, and appreciate things for their intrinsic value, so they can draw conclusions with their very own heads."