Goodbye to the Blog: The Digital Controversy / Yoani Sánchez

When a friend leaves… says a song performed by Alberto Cortez, it gets the tears flowing in anyone. Well, that sorrow of goodbye referred to in the song occurs not only when someone very close leaves. It also hurts when we have to say goodbye to people we don’t know physically, but with whom we’ve shared the vast space of the Internet. People we have read and followed on the web and with whom we’ve even had opposing positions on many topics. This is the case with Elaine Diaz, who just announced the end of her blog, The Digital Controversy. After five years of publishing on that “most personal, subjective” site, the journalist has decided to close it and devote herself to teaching and research. A loss to the plurality of the blogosphere in Cuba.

Although she never responded to our invitations to exchange opinions with the bloggers of Cuban Voices, this does not diminish my sympathy for her. Nor did the snub of not accepting a special mention in the Virtual Island competition take its toll on the respect many of us profess for her writing. I didn’t even stop reading her, and I defended her against multiple detractors, when on more than one occasion she launched the hackneyed barrage of official accusations against me. Much less did I let her her dismal performance on State Security’s television program “Cuba’s Reasons” cloud my enjoyment of her sincere, brave, youthful posts. Because in Elaine Diaz I saw something of the twenty-something Yoani Sanchez I was, with the illusion that the system could be reformed from within. To approach her prose was to journey into my own past.

Sadly, the blog The Digital Controversy has said goodbye to its readers. And although the author’s explanation refers to new professional paths, it’s hard to believe it’s only about that. Elaine Diaz has transgressed the limits of criticism permissible to anyone working in the official media or in an academic center in Cuba. I remember, for example, her denouncing the corruption in the high schools in the countryside (parts I, II, III, IV and V ), where she touched on the strategic issue of educational quality and the loss of values among teachers and students. Also on this list is a magnificent report from her keyboard about the social and environmental damage caused by generators in her village (parts I, II, III and IV), where questions about the sacrosanct “Energy Revolution” are posed directly to Fidel Castro. The final blow was perhaps her Twitter call, under the hashtag #nolesvotes, to stop voters from endorsing the members of the National Assembly who don’t represent the interests of the people.

The outcome was as expected. We can only hope that some day this young woman will again have a virtual space, without limits, without fear of approaching anyone to debate an idea; without having to make any concessions to censorship. I think that to read Elaine Diaz at this time is, for me, like a journey into the future.

23 August 2012