Let’s compare childhood deprivations


Okay maybe Machetera was a little rough on Yoani Sánchez yesterday. Yoani did have a tough time growing up, what with the Russian cartoons and all. Although to be perfectly frank, Machetera’s mother didn’t permit cartoons of any sort so perhaps she suffered more? Anyway it’s not really Yoani’s fault that reporters are so lazy. She’s figured out that all she has to do is gripe and Western reporters will fall all over themselves to broadcast the griping as some kind of special inside Cuban scoop. It’s a simple case of supply and demand, really.

So perhaps the real media whore is Anthony Boadle, the Reuters correspondent in Havana who distributed the story in the first place about the censored blog without bothering to check the facts, knowing that his editors wouldn’t check them either. Helluva gig there, Tony.

Still, there’s something about Yoani that’s a little off. It’s not that Cubans aren’t famous for complaining, and sometimes about the craziest things. It’s more that after a certain point, the complaining becomes whingeing and that’s when you have to start wondering about the person who’s doing it.

But don’t take Machetera’s word for it. Take Ivan Alonso’s.

The Relentless Persecution (of Yoani Sánchez and her censored blog)

Iván Alonso – Cubainformación

When I learned that Cuban authorities had censored a blog at the online magazine Consenso, where Yoani Sánchez, a 32 year old Cuban woman was writing against “the anonymous censors of cyberspace” so that, as she dramatically put it, she would not be “locked up at home, lights shut off and friends not allowed to enter,” I went there to check it out.

The very same day, March 25th, that the news came out in dailies like Publico, I calmly pulled up the blog both by copying the URL into the address bar, and by clicking the link in the digital magazine. What a way to censor a blog! Now that I had easily reached it, outwitting the iron hand of the censors, I began to read a little. Just to see what’s cooking.

By way of introduction, the author confesses that her blog is dedicated to those born in Cuba in the ’70’s and ’80’s, whose names contain the letter “Y” (too bad for those with traditional Cuban names, not imaginative ones such as those with a Y; this blog is not for them, it’s for the daddy’s boys named Yadier or Yosvany) and who’ve been marked by the rural schools, Russian cartoons, “illegal” departures, and frustration. Okay, well at least their childhoods weren’t marked by death from malnutrition, the search for water 9 kilometers from the house, and war. I understand that the Russian cartoons might have been ugly. In my neighborhood there were authentic GI Joes, 100% American, but they were really expensive and I could only play with cheap dolls, which included those which might have been Russian, or at least from Taiwan for sure. As for the frustration, well, that’s something I don’t know much about.

The blogger’s photo appears right away. She’s well dressed (pretty dress bisected with a purse hanging crosswise), well-nourished, with sunglasses perched on her head and posing next to some graffiti. If her idea is to arouse a sense of compassion about a horrendous dictatorship, she has failed completely. Her western appearance and photo are more likely to arouse envy among hundreds of virtual friends in Haiti, Mexico, Peru or Colombia who can see how solidarity against a dreadful regime has allowed her to wear a matching dress/purse combination.

In her first message she’s already complaining: that the blog is censored, that she’s a rebel, that there are shortages on the island, that teens are outwitting the censors’ slaps. She ought to reflect on one thing: she is 32 years old and lives in a country where she can afford to spend her mornings writing childish things in a blog; in other places those with such aspirations already have four children and have already lived more than half their life expectancy. But this doesn’t interest her in the least. Her concern is her blog.

In her second post, Yoani talks about a prisoner, Adolfo Fernández Saiz, who she tells us, was arrested in the spring of 2003. A quick glance at the Internet tells us that he is a good friend of Reporters Without Borders (which has already been covered here plenty of times, therefore I won’t speak of it now), and “Cubanet” or “Cubaliberal.” Although the idea that anyone should be imprisoned doesn’t please me personally, supposing I were to begin to take money from foreign powers to attack Cuba’s sovereignty, pretty soon everyone would start to say, who is this selfless fighter for (his own) human rights? If Yoani wants to spend her time worrying about prisoners, she might begin with a tour and a quick look at the military base at Guantánamo. As if any of these prisoners wouldn’t change places with Fernández Saiz. Or all of them.

In her next entry, our intrepid anti-establishment blogger talks about a book of stories that she believes attack Cuba head-on. If the attacks are viable, she might ask why those fierce censors that she was complaining about at the start haven’t exercised their dark claws to take the the book out of circulation. It’s clear that this girl doesn’t know anything of lockups, vanished editions, and the closure of publications. Luckily there are some Basques who might tell her about Egin and Egunkaria to see what she thinks. Although the little literary work in question speaks of cows and bulls, for our censored blogger it’s clear that it speaks of the Cuban economy. And here, incidentally, we find one of the most interesting things. The book, for sure, has been reviewed by ABC, El Cultural de El Mundo and in Encuentro Cubano. It’s really touching, but it might not be that easy. Disguises and all that. One might also ask why other writers in her country aren’t reviewed in prestigious Spanish periodicals. Could it be that they don’t write what they’re told, Yoani, sweetheart?

I’m beginning to tire of reading this blog where every other mention is of a media so independent and fair toward the island, as we all know. Just a little more: a little chat about why she doesn’t have a DVD (surely she’s got one, although at this point it makes more sense to get a Blu-Ray) but nothing about why her country hasn’t had enough electricity for her to turn on the damn VCR; a message of encouragement to a new blogger (how many bloggers are there in Iraq by the way, not counting those of the invading army? And in Somalia? And in Santo Domingo, to keep it a bit closer to home?); a quick mention of the lack of good manners (it appears that the señorita is offended by passersby who don’t give her a nod and a “good morning”); and a charged painting exhibition against the Cuban government. Something that strikes me as neither good nor bad, but man, what an obsession! This is what’s known clinically as a “persecution complex:” to always be threatened by a shadowy power that censors her, ties her up, locks her in the house and won’t let her play Super Mario Brothers. Poor thing.

I talk to a psychiatrist who tells me that a persecution complex may be due to an excessive ego. She nailed it. Of course Yoani hasn’t got the slightest modesty, and even less desire to contribute to her society. We won’t be able to speak with her and ask any questions because she either doesn’t know the answers or won’t respond. Her deal is to hope to thrive and go to discotheques that should be opened in the rural schools that bug her so much. That the poor go to these schools is something intolerable. That she be left to chat in peace is what matters above all, and Cuba ought to overturn its entire economic effort so that the girl can get her banned Blu-Ray already (by the way make sure I get one too, nothing’s easy; not everything’s milk and honey in the west, girlfriend.)

This is the moral and intellectual future that awaits Cuba if it hands this kind of hobo “dissidence” the power to make a “transition like that of Spain,” with its lack of consensus, wit or tolerance. I only hope that all the good people of Cuba might have the freedom to fall into the clutches of these fine contemporary analysts.

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