RIP Jean-Guy Allard: A Model for Progressive Journalists Working in the Capitalist System

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Jean-Guy Allard, born in Shawinigan, Quebec, died in his beloved and adopted Havana on August 16 at the age of 68, following an illness.

I, like many of his other friends and colleagues from Quebec, visited him and his son on a number of occasions in his modest home in Havana. In fact, these were much more than just casual visits – they were a sort of secular pilgrimage. He was particularly proud of the framed piece on his wall containing one of Fidel Castro’s writings, in which the Cuban leader highlights Jean-Guy’s work. I hope that Jean-Guy was able to watch on television the activities organized in Cuba on the occasion of Fidel’s 90th birthday on August 13.

Our visits to Jean-Guy’s home were always a serious occasion for us, such was the impact on us of his principled stand against the so-called freedom of the press in Quebecor. The latter, as every Quebecer knows, is the huge media monopoly that controls the Journal de Québec newspaper for which Jean-Guy worked.

Jean-Guy made no secret, as divulged in interviews, concerning the tight control over his political views and journalistic values in the capitalist press. He, of course, resisted pressure to the best of his ability. It is no wonder that he decided to dedicate his retirement and his retirement pension to the cause of Cuba and Latin America. Thus, he is a model for journalists living and working in the capitalist system. He shows us that principle must at all times dominate over career.

In addition to this quality that he had bequeathed to us, there is another one that I would like to mention. Jean-Guy was a very staunch opponent of U.S. imperialism and especially of its unbridled interference and terrorism in Cuba and Latin America. He had absolutely no illusions about the U.S. ruling circles and their long-term intentions. He seemed to live and write as part of this uncompromising rejection. It animated him, and it still animates us. The opposition to U.S. imperialism in the world, to be found in areas such as Quebec or Canada, is very often not appreciated to its full extent in the South. Jean-Guy’s life and work are a testimony to this tradition that so many of us honour.

Both his journalistic principles and his aversion to U.S. imperialism constitute a model that will live on.

Arnold August, a Canadian journalist and lecturer, is the author of Democracy in Cuba and the 1997–98 Elections and, more recently, Cuba and Its Neighbours: Democracy in Motion. Cuba’s neighbours under consideration are the U.S., Venezuela, Bolivia and Ecuador. Arnold can be followed on Twitter @Arnold_August.