Yoani Sánchez: A woman in search of a cause

“Sometimes the questions are complicated because the answers are simple.” - Dr. Seuss / Art: Varela

Today Rebelión published the first of a two part interview Salim Lamrani did with Pentagon babe Yoani Sánchez. English translation here.

Salim says that an unnamed “western diplomat” who’d read some of the “relatively critical” articles he’d written about Yoani passed them along to her, and as a result she asked to meet with him to clear up a few things.  They met in the middle of the afternoon at the bar in the Plaza Hotel in Havana.  He describes her as affable, serene, never flustered, and with her experience dealing with Western media, “relatively practiced in the art of communication.”

The rest of the interview is a tour de force of incoherence and ignorance.  But José Varela has already been busy with the machete, over at varela blog, and there’s no-one better.

The Complicated Chica español

José Varela

Translation: Machetera

Yoani Sánchez has been interviewed by a French journalist (complete Spanish text here) and has told him that she has photos of the blows she received in the street, but she doesn’t want to reveal them because she’s going to present them in court.  This detail is significant because one’s credibility in court is not dependent on possibly self-inflicted or fabricated proof, but rather, proof collected in situ.  It’s dependent on witnesses, experts, medical reports or a confession from the aggressor (or aggressors).  If what she’s seeking is to denounce a violation (as seemingly suggested at first in the interview) the opportunity was lost by not publishing the photos on her blog or giving them to her great ally, the international press.  But if she’s looking to punish her aggressors (which is what she said later), she’s not going about it the correct way.

My conviction: She has no photos whatsoever.  She was never attacked unless it was by her husband in a domestic quarrel.

The problem with Yoani, the Cuban blogger, seems to be the way in which she constantly contradicts herself.  In the interview she asserts that she decided to return to Cuba from Switzerland in order to use the knowledge she’d gained outside the country and try to change things in Cuba (liberator).  Immediately she contradicts herself and admits that she really returned to help her family who’d been left behind in Cuba (evangelist).  The interviewer then suggests that she’d have been better able to help them from a rich country like Switzerland by sending them money and once again she changes the reason and says that her father was ill and that furthermore whenever she bought a pair of shoes or went on the Internet she felt ashamed (altruist).  Still unconvinced herself, she rambles on, adding that maybe it was homesickness (after two years abroad).  And finally, she admits that her return is a little bit unexplainable and perhaps due to the fact that she does the least expected thing, going against the flow.  So many incongruous explanations have only one thing in common: a search for justification.  There is no need whatsoever to justify a return to one’s country of origin, unless one is inconsistent in what one says (in her case, through her blog).  And the girl tries to justify it indistinctly, through struggle, love, passion and eccentricity.  A woman in search of a cause.

My explanation: She returned to Cuba because she does not have the aptitude to meet the challenge of a highly competitive society while being socially uncertain.

And in Havana she’s not going to be evicted from her 14th floor Plaza apartment for being unemployed.  And if by chance – just for a moment – she stops blogging and receiving her euros and dollars…neither her son nor her husband nor she herself will be denied medical care if they fall ill (because with a towel and a bar of soap, they’ll be welcome at the hospital, they won’t have to pay $1000 a month for family health insurance and $500 to be admitted to the hospital).  They’d even receive medical attention if they were to go on a hunger strike.  But Yoani doesn’t understand anything about capitalism.  Not even its basic premises.

She demands freedoms?  Let’s analyze her freedoms:

Freedom of Expression:

She speaks and writes against the government, and is echoed (amplified) outside Cuba (for trying to do something like what Reynaldo Arenas managed decades ago).  Her premise that she is not allowed to express herself in the Cuban media is illogical in a capitalist society because millions of people are in the same position and this is the reason for the existence and popularity of blogs and websites. Yoani herself doesn’t meet the minimum requirements to interest a capitalist publication.  Her international attractiveness is due precisely to her contentious activity in Cuba.

Freedom of Mobility:

Yoani traveled to Europe and lived there for two years (which caused her to temporarily lose her permission, something that exists in all bureaucratic immigration systems for a variety of reasons – I myself lost that privilege over two years because of a legal mess).  There are millions of human beings in the capitalist world who have never been able to travel to Europe.

Freedom of Association:

She has a blogger academy.  Same as if it were a lodge, organization or party.  What it’s called is unimportant, it’s the action of being allowed to associate that matters.  Well as far as I know, she’s not meeting in catacombs like the early Christians, nor in attics like the heretics during the Holy Inquisition.  She has even published photos of her academy on the Internet.

Freedom of Opinion and Argument at Government Locales:

That’s saying a lot already, but she railed at an immigration official and then posted it on YouTube.  If I did the same to a government official here in the United States, I’d be in prison.

But what then?  What other freedom is this girl lacking?  Voting?  She had that in Switzerland and threw it away.

In life, you can’t screw up these delicate decisions or you pay the price.  And as an adult, she knew that very well when she left Zürich for Havana, but she acts stupid and claims that she does unusual things and enjoys going against the flow.  She screwed herself.  Whoever goes against the grain pays the price.  Here in Miami I have to fight for myself whenever someone comes out to the street to harass me because of my personal opinions.  And that’s the way I’ve lived since 1992.  I’m not complaining.  I’m living the consequences of my actions.

But here’s my conclusion: Yoani traded Swiss democracy and the right to vote for Cuban governmental paternalism because it was most convenient for her, of that there is no doubt…but she justifies it because she doesn’t accept capitalism and she looks for phrases to say that what she wants for her country is a sui generis capitalism…knowing of course that Cuba has no chance at Swiss, first world capitalism but that of Central America or the third world, like Guatemala…and therefore, meanwhile, she prefers to live under communism with euros and dollars.  And naturally, she dreams of traveling with this money.  That’s her right and it’s everyone’s dream.  She’s not a fool, but neither are the other 11 million nine hundred and ninety nine thousand nine hundred and ninety nine Cubans who live with her and want the same thing.  But it is an undeniable truth that she has lived and lives better than the median and many millions of Cubans.

And if she’s not attacked, if she has freedoms, if she doesn’t work, if she has all her necessities covered, if she has no other responsibilities…where’s her martyrdom?

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

9 responses to “Yoani Sánchez: A woman in search of a cause

  1. OMG!!! I never laughed so hard this article is awesome …YOU ROCK MACHETERA!!!

  2. Urging people NOT to read something can backfire and generate interest in the warned-against object.

    Salim Lamrani’s commentaries are normally translated to English within a short time, so there’s be no reason to waste Machetera’s precious translating skills and time on this one.

    Like Frei Betto, Machetera has drawn out many of the implications of Yoani Sanchez’s political position quite well.

    At the same time, it’s worth nothing that in the middle of Yoani Sanchez’s massive interview, she does take a position against what she refers to delicately as the “embargo”. That in itself is notable. She shouldn’t be condemned for that, nor saluted, either, of course. But it IS worth noting and pointing out to interested readers.

    During the Vietnam war era, Fidel sharply criticized the Soviet Union and China for their failure to unite in defense of Vietnam, then under ferocious assault by Washington. He said “Division in the face of the enemy was never an intelligent or revolutionary strategy.”

    There is a corrollary which perhaps ought to be considered: Division in the CAMP of the enemy can never do harm to the forces of revolution. And so if there’s a falling out among thieves: some favoring and some opposed to the US blockade of Cuba, that’s definitely a good thing, regardless of the motives of those falling out among themselves.

    Machetera’s barbed comments are delicious, of course, and and should be circulated widely.

    • Dear Walter, as a parent I can tell you that I fully share your reasoning on forbidden fruit. Despite my recommendation of Varela’s piece over the actual interview itself, I don’t care all that much whether people read the interview or not. I just have other things I’d rather translate – I know you get that.

      Although as you point out that Yoani does take a position, like her padrino Montaner, against the “embargo,” in the second part of the interview which was published today she backtracks completely and takes Hillary Clinton’s position about the blockade being a convenient scapegoat and only accounting for maybe 20% of Cuba’s problems. Lamrani smacks her down on that and she is forced to admit that she has nothing to back up what is only her own opinion, and I believe the incoherence of it makes it useless.

      As for the so-called division in the enemy camp, you make a good point. But Yoani’s not the only Cuban whiner who’s come out against the “embargo.” I think if I’m not mistaken that Paya and others have said the same. Feeble bleating, if you ask me – when push comes to shove, they’re not all that interested in overturning the gravy train.

  3. Can someone explain to me why some people insist in defending a tyranny ???

    What about a real interview to Yoani Sanchez in “la mesa redonda” ?

  4. Yo……….you pose a very good question….and I can honestly say that I have no idea why anyone would defend the US. The record of the US stands for itself and if a world wide vote should take place, I suspect that the US would rank very highly in the category of rogue nations or terrorist states.

  5. i read the interview in spanish, which was published on rebelion, and i can’t wait for the english translation! yoani is the cuban version of a teabagger, and in the face of facts she sucks. salim destroyed her with the truth.

  6. Yo, perhaps Yoani just isn’t important enough to the good folks at La Mesa Redonda to justify that. They do have serious issues to discuss, y’know.

  7. full translation of yoani sanchez interview at lchirino.wordpress.com. interesting enough is how lanrani, being a french journalist leaves Cuban yoani without arguments about realities of her own country what tells a lot about her real objectives, don´t you think? you can have it in English at the blog The South Journal

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