If the Shoe Fits… / Miriam Celaya

As expected, the birth of the new site 14ymedio.com attracted immediate attacks from the servers of the Cuban regime. A few hours after the media’s first appearance, it was redirected by official cyber-hosts to a dedicated page (oh, the satrapy’s supreme homage!), not to the disqualification of counterrevolutionary journalistic medium as such, but to its “insignificant” manager, the multi-award-winning – and multi-abominated — Yoani Sánchez-Cordero, evil among the worst.

Interestingly, the essence of the invectives against Yoani the terrific is not the legitimacy of exercising the right to free opinion, of creating an information media to and from Cuba, or of the desire that the media become, in addition to a source of diffusion, an enterprise producing income to Yoani and her associates, paying for her collaborators, promoting independent journalism and creating sources of employment. “The chicken in a chicken and rice meal”, as the ever soporific Lázaro Barredo might say, who had been director of the libelous “Granma” for a brief period, but who has currently disappeared from the public scene. It is about questioning what capital this blogger has available to fund such an enterprise, whether or not she deserved the awards she has received, and about the nature of her fabulous emoluments, which, in the imaginary collective of her embittered detractors is close to half a million dollars.

However, what is truly amazing is that there are some petty characters in the internal dissent (and even more conspicuous, characters of “the external”), who have joined the same chant, thus indicating that the perverse nature of the olive green autocrats has soaked into the conscience of Cubans beyond suspected limits, also poisoning a sector of those who call themselves – and indeed are — enemies of the Cuban dictatorship.

This virulence has reached such magnitude that it instills pity. How mediocre can an individual be who even feels threatened in the presence of the mere presumption of the success of others? Why must the prosperity or the awards and recognitions received by others be a cause for concern, especially when those “others” not only were and are our fellows in the cause, but at times have opened space and have shared with us their fortunes and misfortunes? What dark Cuban trait deprives us at times of the greatness of rejoicing in the victory of others?

In recent days I have been a witness to, not surprisingly, attacks launched on the new newspaper 14ymedio.com from our own “trenches” as if we were their worst enemies. Fortunately, many more words of praise and encouragement have been sent from the most diverse points, than the sour bile generated by the ever resentful.

The most poisonous reviews, of course, come from the most mediocre subjects. Some of these consider themselves “journalists”, perhaps in response to some magical genetic inheritance, though not necessarily from qualifications or pedigree, or because they feel they have exclusive rights of “antiquity”. If the latter were true, then we would have to recognize the special rights of the political power of the regime that has been exerting them for over 55 years in Cuba.

Also not missing in this sui generis repudiation meeting are certain top dogs inflamed with messianic aspirations, those who always know how, when, and where things should be done, and who cannot conceive, much less tolerate, something that is as healthy as it is helpful for the development of freedom which is simply called competition.

There are those who claim that competition, in order to be healthy, must have fair opportunities, which remedies the disastrous (and false) vulgar egalitarianism imposed by the Castros, whose deplorable consequences we know so well. They are clueless, despite living on “information” that such a thing as “equality” does not exist in any part of the world, and that one has to go out and seek the “opportunities”, such as wealth, they have to be conquered, creating them by intellect and efforts, because they do not fall from heaven, like divine grace, on anyone’s shoulders. And when one reaches them, there is absolutely no obligation to share them. In fact, it is morally harmful to do so.

Believe it or not, there are individuals from the Cuban dissidence who – in tune with the government itself — consider others’ successes as an obstacle to their own fulfillment, and, in the licentiousness of their personal frustration, they take hold of what action they deem appropriate, including complaints and catharsis about the hardships of the “un-rewarded” or the “unfunded for professional performance” –what we often call a cry baby – with such resentment that it reminds us of the national motto: “I don’t want to be as well-off as the Joneses, I just want for the Joneses to be as fucked up as me.”

These kind of individuals don’t consider talent, hard work, drive, courage, will power or – let’s say it brazenly and give it its due –ambition. For them, from 14ymedio.com, there is “unfair competition”, just because Yoani Sánchez has received funding (oh, what a damn word!) and because she can count on a decent enough comfortable place to work, so she doesn’t need to use the conjugal bed as a sofa. I would consider this an advantage a bit more hygienic than a status symbol, but – of course — I understand that we don’t all think alike. What is true is that, for some of the more stubborn enemies of the Castros, comfort and money (other people’s) are as dirty as for the olive green elite itself.

However, many conveniently ignore that they have received (or are receiving) financial help — something that I sincerely admire and hope never runs out – way before 14ymedio, before someone was awarded, and certainly, before the independent Cuban blogosphere was born and developed, otherwise they could not have sustained their newspapers or magazines, a reason for having allowed payment for collaborations for some time now. And congratulations.

That’s something, for instance, that the magazine Consenso, and later Contodos (2004-2007), could never do just because they lacked financing, a reason why many of them did not collaborate with that project, since they have always worked for money, as is normal and reasonable, though there have always been romantics that do certain things for free. It is understood that nobody is obligated to do it. So what’s the problem? Why are they wearing themselves thin attacking other independent projects? Isn’t it better that we have the greatest possible number of publications in order to continue penetrating the wall of the regime’s information monopoly?

Another practice that the “pure ones” demonize is marketing. They call it “media hype” as if it were something obscene, and they talk about “inflated ego”, “lack of humility” (a special merit that they apparently believe abounds among them). Because, at the height of perfidy, Yoani Sánchez is not settling for creating a newspaper, period, but she aims to “create the best newspaper”, states a critic (or should I say a criticizer?). And the question arises, what harm is there in pursuing perfection? Why shouldn’t anyone wish to reach that goal at a healthy pace, particularly when they work so hard to that end?

Personally, as a citizen journalist, I am in the habit of believing that the better I do my job, the more my readers appreciate it, whether or not they are in agreement with my opinions. So, with every effort I undertake, I go beyond, getting close or not to a certain extent, the perfection I aim for, why settle for less? Why should this be a flaw?

It is curious that certain people often parasitize on the opinions of others and present them as their own (which in itself is unfair, and even fraudulent), people who lack education, training or qualification — academic or self-taught — people who “decorate” with lies or hype the information given to them, who make up non-existent people in interviews they publish and limit their relative success in the overwhelming mediocrity (even more) of those around them – which, de facto, melds them into mediocre individuals — might seek to establish themselves as champions of honesty and virtue as well

And, since excessive vanity inevitably leads to the ridiculous, the sorrowful orphans lie or misrepresent reality: 14ymedio.com has never claimed to be the first independent digital medium in Cuba, or declared itself “anti-Castro” (or “anti” anything, but rather, “pro” rights, although it seems that the same is not equal), which is why, from the opposite ends, Yoani is accused of falling into “ambiguities” because there is always some moron who, despite lacking his own projects, feels he has the right to issue guidelines about what the projects of others should and must be.

And, finally, to finish off so much Castro-socialist drivel, designed for those masterfully defined as “perfect Latin-American idiots” by three academics a lot wiser than I am, let’s leave, once and for all, the eternal posture of the mentally herniated poor little victims, who will have to be fed and subsidized forever. Neither Yoani Sánchez nor 14ymedio.com, nor absolutely anyone else, other than the same individuals, are responsible for their own lack of success or of “financiers” to overcome their woes.

The formula for prosperity, dear idiots of this island village, is not to wait for generous patrons to appear, but to have something to offer. You should not have to sit down and wait for some bored mogul to want to “do justice” and throw you a financial bone.

Perhaps the wailing crew of the day should use the energy they employ in lamentations to work more efficiently and creatively. Incidentally, it would not be a bad idea for them to get up to date with the present. Don’t feel put out, none of that! These are only a few suggestions. That said, be adventurous, take risks. I am referring, in particular, to financial and professional risks, so don’t come back again with the morsel that this one or that one was taken prisoner, or that they take their lives into their own hands “on the street”, because that is a risk that all of we Cubans take, from the daredevil who establishes a political party or who writes independently to the poor devil who steals three pounds of meat from a warehouse. This is another one of our best entrenched myths. In Cuba, jail does not depend on anybody’s merits, but on the whim of the satrapy.

And if someone chooses to be personally offended by this post, know that I can’t be bothered with such tackle, but I respect all your conscious choices. If I have not mentioned names, is not to evade confrontation, but because I will not give them a single hit or a smidgen of brain cells, to a debate that, in addition, would be useless. We know that some people are hopeless. Time is usually a wise judge. Also know that making enemies does not move me, but false expectations are not believable: I pick my enemies. I don’t know if the recipients of this post are at the height of the conflict or in the process of getting there. At any rate, I wish you much success.

Published June 2nd, 2014, by Miriam Celaya
Translated by Norma Whiting