Operation Truth / Yoani Sanchez

Note: A translated transcript of the video can be downloaded here.

For years I’ve wanted to ask Eliécer Ávila certain questions. Since I first heard him speak and present himself in January of 2008, I was tempted to ask about what it really meant to be a member of Operation Truth, what role did a soldier of the web play. But time passed, events piled up, difficulties arose, and only in August of last year were we able to have a conversation about it. What he told me exceeded my expectations and confirmed my fears that the ideological battle has shifted, in part, to cyberspace. So all those theories of trolls taking shape in the laboratories of State Security, of olive-green hackers and blogs created for the sole purpose of diverting attention, were corroborated with this interview.

Glued to their keyboards and screens with a pre-established script, our kilobyte police leave an easily detected trail. Their main strategy is not to rebut arguments or counter ideas, but to denigrate and discredit the citizen who criticizes the system. “Shooting the messenger” summarizes the premise of those who focus not on what was said, but on who said it. Every word that Eliécer shared with me encapsulated in a significant way part of what has happened to me in the last six years, since I opened Generation Y. Sometimes, I confess, I thought they were paranoid delusions in my mind, but now I have no doubts: the Cuban authorities are spending thousands of hours on the internet and unimaginable resources each year to counter some peaceful citizens who are simply offering our opinions.

These lines are probably being read by Operation Truth’s new militias, so I want to take advantage of this to send them the following message, “I know you are there, indeed, you can’t hide that you are there. The work you do is the work of repression, the work of restricting the freedom of Cubans. Instead of silencing others, you should defend your ideas boldly, not hiding behind pseudonyms and taking advantage of technological superiority. If you really believe in what you promulgate you wouldn’t have to appeal to such despicable methods to make your case. Don’t crush, convince. Don’t try to annul those who think differently, better you learn to live with them.”

11 February 2013