In Cuba, the mere mention of the name Pedro Martínez Arcos, 51, is synonymous with the embodiment of Cubanness—on the small screen. Martínez, among other functions, keeps over 11 million Cubans posted on current events through his famous news program Al Mediodía, which airs on national television.
The job, combined with numerous artistic manifestations, has made him one of the most recognizable faces on the Caribbean island.
With this substantial media baggage in hand and mind, Martínez arrived in China's capital of Beijing in November 2019, where, over the course of roughly one month, he saw firsthand the monumental change the Asian giant had undergone.
Martínez explored the nation of Confucius, Mao Zedong and Zhou Enlai, among many historical figures, right before COVID-19 wielded its impact on both China and the rest of the planet.
The Cuban media icon was able to visit several key sites across the Chinese capital, communicate with its residents and learn—to certain extent—about the nation's ancient culture and tradition.
Staff members unload emergency COVID-19 assistance provided by the Chinese Government at Havana Airport, Cuba, on August 28, 2021 (XINHUA)
"My general culture undoubtedly expanded; knowing China was discovering an important part of the history of humanity. My points of view and appreciation of universal history were enriched," Martínez confessed when talking about his original expectations and what he eventually ended up seeing after traveling over 12,000 km from Havana to Beijing.
For Martínez, being on Chinese soil for a month "was an encounter with history and modernity; it was learning about where we came from and where we are going." He further recognized China as the one civilization having contributed most to the development of universal history.
From a personal point of view, he added that "standing on the Great Wall, walking inside the Forbidden City, the Summer Palace, visiting Shanxi Province and the Coal Museum, among many other places, will always be some of the most beautiful, emotional and impressive experiences of my life." Words from a person who knows how to fully appreciate the greatness of a country that has reinvented itself without losing an ounce of essence. China has preserved its multiethnic culture, despite its meteoric modernization.
When asked about the differences between the media in his country of origin and that of his destination, Martínez bluntly replied, "Yes, there are differences. The media reflect a nation's culture, tradition, politics, economy and society."
"China's media technology is second to none; the Cuban media need greater technological development. Thanks to China, much of this technology is now employed in Cuba," he continued. His words were based on extensive knowhow given, in addition to being a television presenter, he works as a radio announcer and director and master of ceremonies of the Cuban Institute of Art and Cinematographic Industry.
Regarding his general perception after this expedition, he explained, "China surprised me. Those who have not visited that beautiful country have no idea what exists there. I was surprised by its ancestral culture, its architectural and technological development. I wanted to take with me, etched in my mind, everything I saw in China. I would need to return many times to be able to fully grasp and appreciate its development and hospitality."
Martínez made his experiences in China very publicly known, not missing an opportunity to highlight the nation's beauty and development. "I never get tired of talking about my visit to the Shanxi University of Communication, Taiyuan City, or the immense potential of its students," he added.
The best of futures
It is no secret that China poured massive effort into organizing and hosting the Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games Beijing 2022, an unbeatable showcase displaying the country's unlimited potential and capacity to host an event of such magnitude before the eyes of the world.
Despite the attempted "boycott" by several Western countries, headed by the United States, preparations never suffered, with the certainty that nothing would be able to diminish the impetus and desire that from February to March, the world would witness these historic Games on Chinese soil.
Martínez considered the uninterrupted continuation "a very wise decision." The Winter Games were a guaranteed success in China due to its technology, its culture, its discipline and its traditions. "The organization level of that country, in my opinion, was inspiring."
Being able to reproduce the words of an excellent speaker and describer like Martínez is extremely gratifying and facilitates the work of this author to fully capture his experience of the most populous country on Earth. So much so, that he wishes "the best of futures" to this territory that dazzled his senses from the moment he landed in Beijing.
"China is advancing by leaps and bounds. It is a great power that grows every day for the benefit of its citizens and mankind. China is, and should be, an example for humanity. Thank you to those who made my visit and stay in that beautiful country possible. Thank you for your Silk Road project [the Belt and Road Initiative]. And thank you for broadening the horizons of those residing on other latitudes," he concluded.
(Print Edition Title: Meeting With History and Modernity)
Copyedited by Elsbeth van Paridon