Yoani Sánchez: a few cards short of a full deck

By Machetera - A Yoani Sánchez se le aflojó un tornillo

Now en français! Cuba: Yoani Sánchez, La “Blogueuse Star” Cubaine: Une Folle Furieuse

Britney Spears

Britney Spears

Untreated mental illness is never a lovely thing to gaze upon, so in the case of Yoani Sánchez, the self-proclaimed “blocked” Cuban blogger, it’s hard to fathom the cruelty of a U.S. State Department which in lieu of quietly suggesting psychological help for its client blogger, amplifies and repeats her ravings for the simple reason that they are so very helpful to the propaganda war against Cuba going on fifty years now.

On Monday, November 9, the same State Department which remained stoically silent in the face of so many criminal assaults and murders carried out by its client putschists in Honduras over the past four months, moved itself to issue a statement in which it “strongly deplore[d] the assault on bloggers Yoani Sanchez, Orlando Luis Pardo, and Claudia Cadelo.” Taking the Cuban government over its knee once again, it delivered a lecture about repression and violence, freedom and reconciliation.  There are multiple problems with the State Department’s touching level of concern, though.

First, there’s no independent confirmation of the claims of the three itinerant bloggers that they were forced into a black Chinese car driven by state security and then beaten in order to not attend a seriously strange demonstration (Against violence? In Cuba?  Come on…).  And considering Yoani’s predilection for gobbling up Cuba’s scarce bandwidth in order to upload pictures and videos of herself, the lack of photographic evidence for the claimed beating is remarkable.  The exhibitionist blogger who doesn’t flinch at dressing up as a clownish parody of a German(?) tourist in order to create a spectacle at an otherwise serious gathering of journalists and academics, is suddenly reticent, shy and withdrawn, privately nursing her self-reported wounds with the assistance of her local medical clinic.  (Whose services, she naturally does not mention, were provided free of charge.)

When doubts are raised about the oddly dramatic nature of Yoani’s tale, she posts again – still no pictures – accusing the doubting Thomases in her case of engaging in a game of blame-the-victim.  It’s a curious pathology.  Whether Sánchez is a paranoid bipolar personality, or a bipolar personality with paranoid tendencies is something for Cuban mental health professionals to decide, but the evidence is becoming quite clear – the pronounced and repeated delusions of grandeur coupled with tall tales about persecution which are clearly designed for foreign consumption indicate a troubled young woman whose skewed perception of reality is being stoked, rather than calmed.

reinaldo

Reinaldo Escobar - Loving husband or svengali?

Her husband, Reinaldo Escobar, a washed-up ex-journalist with a trail of burned bridges within the Cuban dissident community, bears much of the blame, in my opinion.  According to Yoani, she and Reinaldo returned to Cuba from a rather uncomfortable existence in Switzerland where due to his advanced age and inability to master a foreign language, his employment prospects were precisely the same as for any other immigrant in a similar situation – hard, menial, poorly paid.  It was not exactly the kind of lifestyle either of them had in mind, and indeed it compares rather unfavorably with swanning around the Melia Cohiba hotel in Havana, carting brand new laptops and making hidden camera videos of themselves harassing the hired help while their assistant, Ernesto Hernández Busto, rattles the begging cup on their behalf in Barcelona. (Hernández Busto, a Cuban surviving in that costly city with no visible means of income has his own blog, Penúltimos Días, where he reprints Yoani’s posts,  and collects “donations” in support of her efforts.)

bustowithcup

Ernesto Hernández Busto - "Have cup, will travel."

For ages now, Yoani has been longing to be arrested, but her greatest sorrow is that she cannot and never will be arrested in Cuba for the reason she most desires – that of making a fool of herself.  She knows very well that she can, however, be arrested for taking money from foreign interests in order to attack Cuba and this is where Hernández Busto’s help is invaluable; putting an extra level of distance between Yoani and her sponsors.

I’ve never considered it particularly productive to wonder about anyone’s possible CIA affiliation, because whether someone is or is not an agent is not the important question – what needs to be asked is whether the person’s activities are or are not useful to the Company.  In Yoani’s and Reinaldo’s case, the answer is an indisputable yes. After Yoani’s performance at the Internet discussion sponsored by Temas magazine at Fresa y Chocolate in Havana last week, while Reinaldo was holding an impromptu press conference for the foreign press on the street, she immediately went forth to grant a loony interview to nothing less than the CIA-sponsored Radio Martí.

yoani-burlada

Yoani in her invisibility wig

Claiming that she was forced to wear a ridiculous platinum blonde wig in order to evade the police security around her building (not, it must be noted, to gain entrance to the event at Fresa y Chocolate – that was never her claim) the lies continued to tumble forth, including one about Cuban journalist Rosa Miriam Elizalde accusing her of being a CIA agent – something which never crossed Elizalde’s lips.  Rosa Miriam’s contribution to the discussion was calm, eloquent, never personal; she pointed out that in regard to the Internet, Cuba is enduring something practically schizophrenic.  While the island struggles with the very real technological obstacles imposed upon it by the U.S.-led blockade, outside Cuba, there is an overabundance of criticism unleashed upon it for the censorship claimed by Yoani.  “One of the things you have to ask yourself is how such visibility is obtained?…It’s a political manipulation; you have to look at it in context,” said Rosa Miriam.

Yoani is so intimidated by Rosa Miriam that she could not bring herself to even utter her name, nor her real title (editor of Cubadebate.cu), preferring instead to mis-characterize her as an anonymous university professor on the attack, both in the interview with Radio Martí and at her own blog.  Jorge Sariol, another Cuban journalist who was present for the performance, wrote the following at his blog:

“Later, came the public participation; some candid, roughly disguised, others incisive, naively disguised, some serious, others neither one nor the other, until one arrived claiming that she was making a ‘mockery of the police persecution’ under cover of a platinum wig that actually made her invisible…well, to herself anyway; she took the wig off theatrically and began to speak, it was more like a soap opera than anything else.

A thousand watt lightbulb vying for attention could not have done it better, because what was said were a few mashed up bits of nonsense that had very little to do with the debate and only provoked a polite rustling from a few of the animatronic seals.  I was disappointed by this Yoani, considered by certain press to be one of the 100 most I-don’t-know-what persons in the world.

I disapprove of debates where the arguer is devalued rather than the arguments but in this case that’s not even necessary.  I thought that between all that, the discourse had to be of some caliber, or her manners or attitude.  But all I saw was a little clown.  Worse, a grotesque little clown.  And certain foreign colleagues swallowed it, hook, line and sinker.

Or were they dining knowingly?

I don’t know which it was, but something didn’t fit in the comedy I saw.”

Rosa Baéz, another Cuban journalist present reported the event this way, in her article titled “When Lying Becomes a Vice:”

“To encourage this idea of Cuba as a country that restricts Internet access, a number of people have come forth, elevated to the level of [public] ‘figures’ courtesy of dollars and media manipulation.  I had the misfortune of participating for the first time, live and in person, in one of the performances of Yoani Sánchez, the ‘star blogger,’ otherwise known by this editor as the ‘wormy blogger’ for her obvious animal resemblance, as well as the similar physical characteristics evident between the two, for her ‘relevance’: both serve as bait. There at Fresa y Chocolate, we heard lie after lie, about the supposed censorship of her site, Generación Y (which is completely duplicated elsewhere, also under her name, and is promoted as a ‘Cuban voice’ which in itself proves the fallacy of this supposed censorship: the blog is blocked and yet its clone is allowed to be visible in all its ‘splendor?’  It’s completely illogical!)  Also in her speech, she referred to certain other supposedly blocked or censored sites, among others that of her partner, Claudia Codelo (Octavo cerco) that also has no proof of being fenced in, not even by the most minimal fence, as can be proven on this screenshot taken from my PC:

8v0-cerco

I was also able to look at some of the links Yoani shows off at her clone, such as for example Bloggers Cuba; Itinerario blogger (where I got a good laugh at the cyber-terrorism classes she gives at her ‘besieged home.’  How did the 13 or 14 participants get around the ‘police barricade’ outside her home?  Are they such modern ninjas that they climbed the outer walls, 14 stories up to her apartment?)”

Baez includes this observation from Rosa Miriam Elizalde:

“It’s tiresome.  When we write in the Cuban press, we know well enough, and we’re used to it; what can you do if lots of people are committed to selective reading, to lies instead of reality, to absurdity as a currency? […] But the most tiresome is not this unbearable trickle of platitudes, something that has been taking place for more than four decades with anything that concerns Cuba, and that sooner or later comes down like a deflated hot-air balloon.  The most truly exhausting thing is that from day to day, that which could be called ‘the incorporation of lying,’ extends and grows; this frivolous way of putting everything in the country under a prejudicial label.  And that’s not only harmful and corrupt, it’s irrational and fanatical.”

And so we come to the latest irrational and fanatical Yoani/Reinaldo production, just days after the wigged display at Fresa y Chocolate; complete with claims of mysterious black security vehicles, secret police beatings, fear of kidnapping – no kidding, that’s why Yoani claimed she refused to enter an unmarked car; she feared being kidnapped or maybe even raped, as though she were in Bogotá rather than Havana.  Or Tegucigalpa for that matter.

The scene as written by Yoani/Reinaldo is made for Hollywood:

“Orlando was already inside [the car], immobilized by a karate hold that kept his head glued to the floor.  One [of them] put his knee on my chest and the other, hit me in the kidneys from the passenger seat and hit my head so that I would open my mouth and spit out the paper.  For a moment I felt as though I would never get out of that car.  ‘This is it, Yoani,’ ‘The clowning around is over,’ said the one seated in front who was pulling my hair.  In the back seat a rare spectacle ensued: my legs in the air, my face reddening from the pressure and my body in pain, while Orlando was pinned by a professional thug on the other side.  I just managed to grab [the thug’s] testicles, through his pants, in an act of desperation.  I sunk in my fingernails, imagining that he was going to continue to smash my chest until the very last breath.  ‘Kill me already,’ I yelled, with the last breath remaining to me, and the one in the front seat told the younger one ‘Let her breathe.’”

yoani_sanchezThe script was stirring but not uncritically received, except at the State Department and the offices of Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Lincoln Diaz Balart.  One commenter noted wryly, “How did Yoani sink her fingernails anywhere when it is obvious that she has none?”

Suddenly the story shifts a little.  Yoani tells the BBC that the real bruising blows were delivered to her bum, which naturally she cannot expose, while insisting that her cheek and eyebrow were swollen over the weekend (again miraculously healed by Monday).  And ludicrous photos and videos were finally released, reminiscent of the world-class faker Armando Valladares: Yoani With Crutch, Yoani Limping About in Great Pain.  But truth be told, Valladares was a piker in comparison to Yoani; his fabulations about paralysis only revealed when he was finally released from prison on the condition that he walk on his own two feet up and down the stairs from the airplane that delivered him to Miami.  Valladares’s lies were concocted to gain his release from prison.  yoani+disfrazada+de+invalidaYoani’s on the other hand seem crafted to lead her there, even though the Cuban government is plainly unwilling to indulge this peculiar sick fantasy.

Meanwhile, Cuba’s serious internet deficiency continues; its professional journalists, scientists, educators and technicians struggle daily with the hobbling characteristics of an internet connection that is so slow and costly as to feel positively stone-age in this era of fiber optics and widespread DSL, in the developed world anyway.  It must be frustrating and infuriating to continually have to deal with the utter indifference of the foreign press to such an appalling story, as it prefers instead to feast on the pathological sideshow provided by Yoani and Reinaldo.  Yet as long as the show completes its designed function – funding the family business while diverting attention from the real news and demonizing Cuba into the bargain – the mental toll it takes on anyone else is very much beside the point.

Machetera is a member of Tlaxcala, the network of translators for linguistic diversity. This article may be reprinted as long as the content remains unaltered, and the author is cited.

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27 responses to “Yoani Sánchez: a few cards short of a full deck

  1. You’re really funny, Machetera. Can’t you realize that nobody believe your lies? Open your eyes, please.

  2. Don’t worry, I have a little extra time :-)

    By the way, a have an old suggestion for you (it’s about Rosa Miriam, your crack):

    http://babalublog.com/2009/05/cuban-bloggers-an-endangered-species/

    And a question:

    Why don’y you sign your blog with your own name –like Cuban bloggers you defamed?

  3. ernesto, Nobody believes YOUR lies

  4. I don’t believe Yoani. And Ernesto, Who the heck is Ernesto?

  5. Great Article Machetera

  6. The very questions that have raised regarding Sanchez and her lack of evidence, I have considered since her ‘incident.’ But yet the mere utterance of such thoughts, deeply disturb the blind followers of Sanchez. You speak the truth, those with the ability to think will realize so. What is truly funny is the ignorance displayed by commentators such as Ernesto.

  7. Machetera:
    Really, I’m surprised at you.

    It is either unfashionable to dissent in socialist Cuba (which is categorically NOT socialist ) or impossible for our progressive element to fathom that in so-called “socialist” countries, govt.s may easily descent from a plutocracy of ideologues (variants of a legitimate revolutionary expression) into a real, orthodox plutocracy.

    Why do we blindly toe the Castro muster-line? (Probably because of our stupid foreign policy dictated by vindictive “exiles” in Florida.)

    I am suggesting that the same way progressives (and socialists LIKE MYSELF) will feel ashamed of backing the Mao / Stalin horse (s) for so long after learning of its excesses and departures from a true dialectic, people will come to learn that dissenters inside the Castro’s Autocracy had a valid reasons to act.

    Regardless, it is so easy to open up firefox and leave your ideas on a web page…that I believe we should all have access to that, don’t you?

    Of course you do.

    • Chaz, there are a few things I would put ahead of Firefox access. Clean water. Universal healthcare. Electricity. Literacy. So imposing a template of widespread internet access on an island that is blocked from receiving a normal bandwidth supply is unfair at the outset. Let’s keep things in context.

      Furthermore, I don’t think you can honestly say that Yoani’s blog is a simple matter of opening up a web browser and leaving ideas on a webpage. That’s what she and Reinaldo hope you will think, and the technical ignorance of the foreign press facilitates this impression but it is flawed. Her blog is translated into 16 or 17 languages and if the comment section is any indicator, receives quite a bit of traffic. This indicates a server, or more likely multiple servers, and dedicated hosting to keep the blog from constantly crashing. Multiple servers, multiple languages, system administrators…think about it. What does it take to keep such a system running? One ISP I asked said $2000 a month would do nicely. I consider that low, because translation is not included, and the USG is not known for seeking out the lowest bidder. This is not a simple issue of “dissent” but “manufactured dissent,” dissent on an industrial, manipulated scale. I will be publishing another article with more food for thought on this issue in a few days…keep reading.

  8. To La Cubana:

    Just a little remark, dear friend, Ernesto is anything but ignorant. He knows very well what he says and how he says it.

    Ernesto “no da puntada sin hilo”, because everything a professional gusano like him does is calculated.

    Cúidate.

  9. Machetera, I can’t wait for you to publish about manufactured dissent against Cuba. Thank you for your kind dedication to that beautiful, courageous and honest country.

  10. John:
    I agree with your estimation. I have visited and performed in Cuba more than 5 times.

    Been invited to participate in conferences, and courses of studies there.

    Machetera, you need to visit Cuba; I urge you to.

    Clean water? At one time, yes. Water mains in Havana and in Camaguey, Santiago, Villa Clara, Matanzas, have long since been contaminated and water is not potable in many, many places in Cuba. Literacy was achieved through the efforts of proud Cubans, everyday Cubans, but the literacy rate has been slipping for years and there exists a grave challenge to teaching in Cuba today. (The embargo doesn’t help, surely) Fewer and fewer Cubans are becoming teachers b/c of the lack of remunerative reward- I mean PAY. Skype connections are being laid in classrooms that are increasingly unruly and under-supervised, right now, in provincial capitals. (This is because a majority of Cuban Professionals opt to immigrate to the Capital, Havana –I witnessed this phenomenon). Cubans are under-fed and the caloric intake of Cubans continues to slip precipitously to pre-revolutionary days. In large swaths of the country this has already happened.

    Again, the embargo does not help but hinders the maintenance of erst-while, Soviet underwritten programs. We should not deny that. But we are working to undo this, and I think the embargo’s days are counted. (I pray)

    Apart from the embargo, there exists real, political vacuum in the country that may spell disaster; the PCC is woefully out of touch with the needs of its constituents. (Again, this is personal observation, testimony, and peer-reviews, op-eds on Cuba from many, left of center news sources: La Monde, La Vanguardia, New York Times, Isvestia, Desde Cuba among others.)

    There is real dissent in Cuba, you cannot deny this. But you do, so we will have to disagree.

    I only ask you to remember your views today as I am sure that anyone so passionate about the Developing World like you appear to be, will emend her views in light of empirical evidence that will soon be made available to all.

    I hope for that day, so that people of good will can come to the rescue of proud Cuba.

    • Chaz, if you don’t read my blog on a daily basis, I forgive you, but what on earth would make you think that I have not been in Cuba for extended periods of time?

      You need to visit Haiti. I urge you to. And then when you can tell me the last time you saw 12 year old Cuban girls routinely assigned to carry water to the house in a pail on their head, trying not to be raped in the process, let’s have a chat about Cuba’s potable water situation. The blockade, or embargo as you call it, is not a minor thing that “does not help”. It is a suffocating, genocidal policy that profoundly affects the lives of Cuba’s citizens and it should not be trivialized, least of all by those who live in the United States and fail to put an end to it. I’m reminded of Rafael Correa’s remarks at the University of Havana last winter when he said that discussing Cuba’s economy without first and foremost addressing the blockade is something like throwing a person into a swimming pool with cement boots on and then after they drown saying “Such a pity they never learned how to swim.” Correa has a PhD in economics as I’m sure you know.

      If you say I deny that there is dissent in Cuba, you have completely misread what I’ve written. This is not dissent. It is a circus. Bought and paid for. I guarantee it. I don’t know how I can be any more clear.

  11. Chaz
    your discourse sounds to me exactly like those from “mercenarias” web brigades

  12. Machetera:
    I have lived in 4 countries and speak Russian, French, Spanish and English. I have had long visits in Haiti and Dominican Republic (no, not “Sandals”), Mexico, Central America, and most of Western Europe.

    I was NOT talking about any other country, but Cuba. To bring up another country as worst or better than Cuba is bad argumentation, namely: “Straw Man”.

    I confess that I have not kept up with your blog; I chanced upon it some time ago and subscribed. Please accept my apologies.

    You have been crystal clear what your opinion is; I do not subscribe to your opinion.

    Dissent in Cuba is not bought and paid for, not by half, it is legitimate. That is my estimation.

    Is it a problem to disagree with you? Shall I stop commenting? Why have a comment section if you do not welcome them from all quarters, or do you wish to persuade your readers? If so, this is not a forum but a reverend’s stump. You may want that, it’s your right, but I prefer discussion, dialectics, not be sermons.

    Be well,
    cm

    • Chaz, I’m not going to discuss Cuba in a vacuum. I know it’s what you prefer, but I’m not going to engage. Sorry.

  13. “And then when you can tell me the last time you saw 12 year old Cuban girls routinely assigned to carry water to the house in a pail on their head, trying not to be raped in the process, let’s have a chat about Cuba’s potable water situation.”

    Camageuy City, 2001, for the month of April I, my cousin, his two sons and his wife, would go to a well for our water…they could only afford to get to the water, which was at a military installation, because I was bribing the guard there: 5 USD per visit.

  14. Le Monde, La Vanguardia, and New York Times are “leftwing” sources? I mean, “hello!?!?!?” (La Vanguardia used to be a Franquist tool when Franco was alive, it has since become “democratic” but it is very much to the right)

  15. On November 14th, you wrote:

    If you say I deny that there is dissent in Cuba, you have completely misread what I’ve written. This is not dissent. It is a circus. Bought and paid for. I guarantee it. I don’t know how I can be any more clear.

    Prove it. If you can’t, we’ll all understand and you can crawl back under your rock.

  16. Machetera , I am so sorry for you with all of those brigadistas mercenarios around the house

  17. You don’t like the truth in English?Then eat it:
    Here in French!: http://letacle.canalblog.com/archives/2009/11/19/15856123.html

    Here in spanish! : http://www.tlaxcala.es/pp.asp?reference=9290&lg=fr

    ¿No te gusta la verdad en inglés? ¡Entonces cómela :
    al francés ! : http://letacle.canalblog.com/archives/2009/11/19/15856123.html

    Aquí al español : http://www.tlaxcala.es/pp.asp?reference=9290&lg=fr

    Tu n’aimes pas la vérité en anglais ? Tiens alors bouffe-la :
    En français, ici ! : http://letacle.canalblog.com/archives/2009/11/19/15856123.html

    En espagnol, ici !: http://www.tlaxcala.es/pp.asp?reference=9290&lg=fr
    :) :)

  18. My comment is to busto the idler
    Mi comentario para el holgazán busto
    Mon commentaire s’adresse au fainéant busto

  19. Beatriz Alequin

    Machetera

    I can’t see why you get all worked up about Yoani and her apparent lies when you should know far well that the Castro’s have lied to the Cubans from the very start. I do not think it wise to go on a crusade against a cuban citizen –such as Yoani–who does not have any political power and doesn’t really pose a threat to the Cuban people as the Castro Regime does. Whatever Yoani’s reasons for faking or lying, if your accusations are real, could never be as dangerous as the lies of these cuban dictators who have the sole power of destroying the lives of their citizens, and in far too many instances have done so. If ever Yoani’s brings anyone to harm by her actions then we have reason to fear her, otherwise it is very naive of you to target her in this manner.

    • Dear Beatriz, I always wonder about approving comments like yours because after all you have the entire Western media at your service to make these silly claims and I find it hard to believe that Machetera is really needed to pile on. But the purpose of a comment section is not really to be an echo chamber either, and so because your comment is only misguided, not rude or poorly phrased, I’ll let it through. And I also want to clarify something. Yoani is nothing to me and I am not targeting her. I am targeting the machine behind her, the one that pays for her costly IT services and connectivity and moves the propaganda gears to get her listed on Time‘s 100 Most Influential People list. Do you really think she did that all on her own? Perhaps you are the naïf, dearest.

  20. this is for Beatriz Arlequin
    Naive americans are the only ones who are bringing ruin to other lands

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