Pablo Díaz Espí

* 1972  

  • “All these years, except for the consequences for the people who live in Cuba, Diario de Cuba for me has been something very enjoyable, really, and very easy. I always say that doing journalism against a dictatorship is very easy, journalism in a democracy is going to be much more complicated, but we haven't got there yet. Doing journalism against a dictatorship, people act as if it were a difficult thing, but it is democracy that implies a game of plurality, economic alliances, trade, and debate of ideas, that is not black and white, and it is much more complicated. That is why I think there is a lot of bad journalism in Cuba today, because it is easy to confront a power. When that power disappears and the game opens, and everything is much more complex and you need to have a lot more flexibility, insight, and you have to swallow your pride, and make alliances with people you don't like, that is going to be more difficult. Until now journalism has been very simple.”

  • “I acted like a German for three and a half months, every trip to Cuba, and it was a tremendous experience because it was like being invisible in your own country, like seeing your country from the inside, because you go there disguised and people talk to you: 'friend, friend, buy, rum, good, good', and you understand everything. We travel around Cuba, it was a time when there was a tremendous need. Every evening we looked for a place to have a drink after work, a beer, whatever we could, and of course, prostitution was massive. I saw that. From one end to the other, all the towns in Cuba were prostituted, everyone was prostituted, all women and all men. I wondered why, because they didn't ask you for money, it was simply to escape their reality a bit: for a little air conditioning, to be able to get into a pool, to experience something else for a moment.”

  • “I fully enjoyed that wonderful Berlin of the beginning of the 90s; the Berlin of squatted houses, of alternative movement, of street art, and that was spectacular because it was like enjoying and being part of all that but also as an anti-communist revenge. Although I had never thought of it like that, it was a revenge for me because the city was surrounded by these Soviet military units and in the end, when the Russian troops started to leave, we went there, we bought the speakers, the lighting equipment, in the clubs that we had, everything was illegal, with Russian things... Even one day we found some warplanes, they were like 6 warplanes in the middle of the forest, and we took them and brought them to Berlin, - they had taken the guns and engines off-. And well, this is quite well known, there are many pictures from that time; we installed those planes in front of what is now the Reichstag, we painted them pink… We lived in squatted houses and we paid nothing, everything was shared, and I was there in my twenties… I left Cuba totally behind me.”

  • “And then school started, wearing a uniform and singing those patriotic, communist songs, all those slogans we had to learn, and then you start high school and you realize that everything has an ideological focus, all history, all philosophy that It is taught: Leninist Marxism 1, Leninist Marxism 2, the entire history of Cuba, everything has a homogeneous, politicized approach, completely out of any debate, of any interpretation other than the orthodox Marxist-Leninist, a totally political use of the history. I always say that Castroism appropriated the history of Cuba, dominated the present and is even going to jeopardize the future of the country. The entire history of Cuba runs as a line for the justification of that system that currently exists in the country. You realize that because somehow you mess around: You start reading other books, listening to other stories, and you realize that everything is a great farce.”

  • “When I was eight years old, the Mariel Exodus happened: the occupation of the Peruvian embassy, 120,000 Cubans ended up going to the United States in 1980, and there was a great political process there; the regime harangued the masses, manipulated everyone... I was 8 years old at the time and I remember perfectly that they took us out of school, they made us march and insult the Cubans who wanted to leave Cuba, who were locked up in the embassy, and later in that embassy such a desperate situation was created, with tens of thousands of people inside a house, that in negotiations with the US these people were allowed to return to their homes, and wait there to leave to the US. Then those people returned to their homes, and there began what were called ‘acts of repudiation’, which were a kind of Cuban pogroms, in which all the neighbours had to go to the houses of those who were going to leave, all nights, to insult them, to throw stones and eggs at them, to burn dolls in the houses, to harass them... In those houses there were children and elderly people... I remember it perfectly because two friends of mine left. So those people left the houses, they had to be locked up for days, nobody saw them, but they were inside the houses. Everybody insulting, yelling, breaking houses, throwing stones, giving them speeches, music; such a thing was very aggressive. And I perfectly remember one night when we were sitting there on the street when a car came and my friend's family and my friend ran away; They came to take them out of the country. Not only me, I know that the entire group of friends remembers perfectly the look on the face of our friend, who was a child like us and wanted to play with us. He looked at us one last time, and they left. No one could say anything. We never saw him again.”

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“Castroism appropriated the history of Cuba, dominated the present, and will even jeopardize the future of the country.”

Díaz Espí Pablo
Díaz Espí Pablo
photo: Post Bellum

Pablo Díaz Espí was born in 1972 in Havana, Cuba, into a family related to the revolutionary political process. From a very young age, he perceived the politicization and oppression of the society he lived in. He became obsessed with leaving Cuba, never to return to the island. He succeeded in 1990 when he went into exile in Berlin, living in freedom after the fall of the wall and studying at a film and television school. However, work took him back to Cuba, and he reconnected with its reality. In 1999, he created the magazine Cubaencuentro with his father. In 2009, together with a group of writers exiled in Madrid, he founded his own media outlet, Diario de Cuba, which he currently directs. This has made him one of the most important figures of Cuban independent journalism in the last years.