Tuesday, October 16, 2007

"So much paranoia"

I’m not going to defend Yoani Sanchez of Generacion Y because she doesn’t need defending. The work on her blog, and the work of Yoani and her colleagues at the on-line magazine Consenso, speak for themselves.

This item expresses respect for Yoani’s work and goes on to call her motives and her work into question because she left Cuba with her son and then returned, and because her blog seems to be “great publicity for Raul’s media campaign.”

Two rebuttals: from Ernesto at Penultimos Dias, succinctly, “Who gains from so much paranoia?” And from Alex at Stuck on the Palmetto, a longer explanation of why “not every Cuban wants to leave the island.” (Or, he might have added, why it is not a crime for a Cuban who has a choice to opt to stay in her own country.) All of which prompted Val Prieto at Babalu to comment, very indirectly.

Some time ago I went to Yoani’s building, went up its remarkable elevator, and met her, her husband, and her son. I learned, among other things, that she learned HTML, uses the computer and Internet access that’s available, created a blog, launched it and had a Web-based platform for her own opinions – all, apparently, without going outside the law.

If we marvel at the ingenuity and drive of Cubans here and there, why should it be impossible to believe that one in eleven million would achieve that?

Or that she and others would decide that for them, the way to do good things for Cuba is to stay in Cuba, and get busy?


Anonymous said...

Phil, no where did I say that what Yoani has accomplished with her blog is impossible. But, given the extreme oppression, and the fact that the average Cuban citizen is not allowed in the tourist areas, let alone able to afford internet fees,and not allowed to own a computer, it is not unreasonable to ask how she manages to do it. Where does she get the money? Why does the regime give her a pass, because I guarantee, that if we know of her blog, so do they. It is not unreasonable to ask those questions, it it also not impossible that perhaps unknowning even to her, she is being used. My first reaction to her blog was joy and excitement, and then I applied logic instead of emotion, and forced myself to ask the obvious questions based on the regimes history. Do you think it's impossible for the regime to manipulate and use whoever and whatever serves their end?

Alex said...

"Where does she gets the money?" Well, what business is that of yours Ziva? Maybe her family sends it to her. Maybe her blog is more important to her than buying another trinket. Where do you get yours? Does the CIA finance your blog and your anti-castro activities? That's what the regime would say. Is that fair? No? Then why is it better when you do it?

"Why does the regime give her a pass?" Does she have to go to jail before you give her legitimacy? Not even, because maybe her being arrested would be another side of her cover. (This is not unprecedented, many hardliners say this of Paya and Elizardo) Where does the paranoia stop and more importantly, who is helped by it?

Anonymous said...

Oh lighten up Alex, no it is not my personal business where she gets her money, but it is a legtimate question for those of us who do not know her. Sorry, I don´t take anything from Cuba at face value. If you think that makes me paranoid, that is your choice and frankly, I don´t care what you think. As for me wishing for anyone to be sent to jail, you really just proved you don´t know me at all. What is the difference between what I write and what she writes? I live in an open society, anyone looking into my business will find it, not so the Cuban regime, and there is a long history from that quarter of lies and deception. My questioning was respectful, a trait you´ve never displayed.

Alex said...

Me lighten up? That's rich.

It's a particularly perverse strain of paranoia to suggest that Yoanis is part of a propaganda campaign. Even if she were... how exactly does her blog benefit the regime? You are suggesting that Raul wants to give the appearance of openness by allowing... openness. Very logical.

(As far as respectful, read the back archives of babalu.)

Phil Peters said...

Ziva, sure, manipulation is possible, we all learned that, if we didn’t know already, when state security disclosed in 2003 that a dozen “dissidents” were its own agents. But in Yoani’s case, with no reason at all, and from quite a distance, you call into question this Cuban woman’s decision to live in her own country and to raise her son there, and you call her blog “great publicity for Raul's media campaign.” And you go on to discuss those who are “willing to settle” for a Cuba where your loved ones can’t return, etc., without saying who you’re talking about. Strong words, strong insinuations – don’t be surprised if people respond.

Is it really the case that it’s illegal to own a computer in Cuba? It’s not easy, that’s for sure, but there are Cubans who have them, and they make no attempt to hide it.

Val Prieto said...


Cuba is beautiful, isnt it? Flawlessly pefect, like you.


You can jump on Ziva all you like, fact of the matter is that given the factual history of the regime and its overt control of internet access, all the questions Ziva asked are legitimate. Whether you like them or not, whether or not they in fact apply to Generacion Y or not. They are legitimate questions. Coco Fariñas starved himself last year for hundreds of days in order to attain access to the internet. and you and Alex and every one else knows that the internet, just like every other form of communication in Cuba is monitored.

Criticize Ziva and I all you want, the questions are still legitimate, they may not be pretty, but there you are. That's the unfortunate byproduct of dealing with a regime that has gone to every extreme to control everything, especially information.

You have to have a self-imposed myopia for criticizing those of us who look at a country that ranks 165 out of 168 on press freedoms skepctically.

I havent read all of Generacion Y's posts, but im pretty certain that if I were to run a search for, say, Las Damas de Blanco, I wouldnt find mention of them.

Val Prieto said...

Oh and Alex,

Just like it's importnat for the Cuban governmnet to question where the dissidents moneys come from, it's just as important to question where Y's money comes from, given the current economic situation and the fact that the average cuban makes ten bucks a month.

Because it is all about legitimacy. If she's being paid by the cuban governmnet then what she writes must be suspect, just like if Phil here were being financed by Sherritt International, youd have to call into question the motives behind his opinions.

Alex said...

You have the same motivation as the Cuban government? Wow. See, I don't much care if they "infiltrate" agents or whatever. First, because this is an open society. If a fake independent journalist writes something critical of the regime to keep his cover, criticism was still written. Second, because acting on that motivation presumes questioning everybody. How do you know some of the Damas the Blanco aren't state agents? It becomes a convenient tool to besmirch anybody.

Cuba IS beautiful, with all its flaws. But more importantly, Cubans are -including the ones who doesn't fit in your convenient mental mold. You never get that right.

Phil, I think having computers is neither legal nor illegal, in the sense that I don't think there's a law that penalizes ownership. People in certain professions (writers, journalists, designers, musicians) can have them if "authorized" (by UNEAC, UPEC, ONDI) and I guess technically anybody who brings one from abroad and was allowed to enter it is "authorized" by Customs. They are not sold in stores inside Cuba to just anybody who shows up cash in hand. But people buy them from each other and there are even people who put them together out of parts. I had a debate on this once with a journalist that wrote an article.

What's explicitly penalized is their use. So a non-UNEAC writer can have one and not be bothered as long as what they write is tolerated, but when they cross whatever line the government decides, they can be charged with using it to subvert the regime, as we saw with some of the 75.

Anonymous said...

!Que hable juan cueeeeellaaaaaar!

Fantomas said...

phil do you work for Sherritt ?

Anonymous said...

It seems to me you are taking a simple issue and making it endlessly complicated. If someone writes a critical blog from Cuba and gets away with it, it's because the government lets them. If you get rid of this problem, all these other sub-issues don't matter. It's like arguing about a shadow in a room, without noticing the elephant that's causing it.

Val Prieto said...


Nice smoke and mirrors comment there, but you still didnt address the subject of my response. Not that I was expecting you to or anything. Ive had more than enough debates with you to know that that's your standard operation procedure.

With you, we all know it's everyone else except the intransigent, hard line, Republican, Cuban-American community that is beyond reproach and unimpeachable.

Anonymous said...

It’s really sad to see how you condemn a person who’s been brave enough to say what she thinks being in Cuba. Yoani could be like me, I lived in Cuba 33 years, a year ago I left. I know MANY Cubans who think like that and do no belong to any organization, let alone work for the Government. I know some who have computers and internet access, yes. I used to have it. You pay a price and you have it illegally. I browsed internet from my bedroom. I was one of the lucky ones but not the only one. And I didn’t even was a member of the UJC.
I had money to pay my internet and computer because of my work, in tourism.
So, for all those of you who ARE NOT CUBAN or haven’t lived there for years, please ask first to someone who knows before accusing people.
Ziva, you might have good intentions, but you don’t know what you are saying, with all respect.
It’s amazing how people say a lot of things about Cuba that can not be farther from reality. I left my country because I thought exactly the same as Yoani, and it’s sad for me to see how the island has fallen apart under such Government, how the people are forgotten in their misery, I accused the leaders for all our problems and tragedies. But be careful when you talk about the ones who are still there and do something so amazing as her blog, from your cozy house in the freedom country. Desde una mesa repleta cualquiera decide aplaudir.
You might be hurting people that are very far from deserving it.