¡Be strong and courageous and connect us at once! / Eliécer Ávila

Attentive and engaged, and all ages, participants at the independent CLIC Festival held in Havana in June 2012

Just being in Cuba and within this struggle for the right to exist, makes you realize how difficult it is to organize a participate and plural event such as the recent CLICK Festival.

Here is it virtually impossible to do anything without the support of the State institutions; now imagine doing it with the entire repressive apparatus of the State working overtime to disrupt and block the planning of the event.

In this context, the most insignificant detail is complicated and becomes a real odyssey. Which is why I admire and congratulate the organizers who took on this challenge and accomplished it, with intelligence and a great deal of work.

In my case, I had the honor of being invited to join the opening panel on Twitter, with Yoani Sánchez, Rebeca Monzó and Félix Lleonart.

With the constant rain I had my doubts that many people would be able to get to the site of Estado de Sats, but what happened dispelled my fears. When we started there audience exceeded the available chairs and some found a seat in the corners on the floor while others stood in the hallway to listen.

We panelists talked about the essentials. Cubans are tired of hearing long speeches and what they need is to speak and be heard.

The debate was rich, people spoke with the assurance of those who do not feel threatened, who do not stifle their opinions for fear of losing their livelihood. This is a marked difference from what happens in any official event in Cuba, where you are only invited if you have shown a reverent attitude toward the government and complete lack of sympathy for those who question its decisions.

This is why all the meetings that take place independent of the State are so interesting. You never know what people are going to say, nor is anyone worried about it. We are not going to hear elegies, nor will we be thanked for no reason. We are not on a platform above the audience. We don’t take the names of those who criticize us. No one is careful to prevent our hearing harsh words. No one separates us from the people and their desires.

I am quite sure that these spaces are the embryos of Cuban democracy, which will come because history is unforgiving and advances relentlessly beyond any human whim.

People, like forests, grow towards the light.

Parallel to the CLICK Festival, the Government organized an opposing festival using their Young People’s Clubs as sites.

According to a laugh-inducing report broadcast on official television news, “There was talk of responsible use of social networking, the social priority that the Cuban State gives to the network was explained, and the public were offered options such as navigation and copying of digital books.” So far everything was more or less acceptable, but then came a worker in a Young People’s Club speaking complete nonsense: “Internet is very important but we all know that the U.S. does not allow us to connect, its not that we don’t want to, the cable does not touch us, the blockade, etc … ”

It seems that this man knew nothing of the famous project of the cable to Venezuela and all of the nonsense that revolves around it. Or he’s a fool.

It is important that the world realizes how the Cuban government tries to handle modern concepts and holds events about issues and options that the great majority of people know nothing about, much less can they use them fully and freely, as is truly needed.

They must be totally unserious to play at this game. And some even come from other countries to contribute to this theatrical pantomime which does absolutely nothing for is.

First we must demand the massive connection to the Internet promised, and in which millions has been invested. And then, from the actual Internet, that we can talk about whatever we want.

At the CLICK Festival — the real one, not the invented one — it became clear that the Internet has a real impact on our lives, on the economy, and in all the spheres of society, and that there must be Internet access in homes, all the time and with unlimited access.

The inventions of the State to “control” information flows and, thus, the people, are abusive, unnecessary, inefficient and boring mechanisms that have no reason to exist in a decent and free society, where the leaders have nothing to hide from the people, nor do they base their hold on power in the ignorance of the masses.

Internet would be a good topic for a presidential campaign, so badly needed in Cuba. Any candidate who didn’t emerge from the closed, hermitic and mysterious little power group of the Cuban Communist Party (PC), would, immediately upon being elected, order the immediate implementation of a full public connection.

It is very clear that the Government, regardless of what it says, fears the Internet, fears allowing Cubans to communicate among themselves and with the rest of the world. It fears dropping the mask and the make-up of the media that transmit 24/7 at its service.

And if this is not the case, make me look ridiculous and show me that I’m wrong. Be strong and courageous and connect us at once!

From Diario de Cuba

27 June 2012