Credibility: Basic Asset of the Dissident Blogger / Miriam Celaya

Some obviously well intentioned readers have sent me valuable suggestions regarding the events that have been occurring in the city of Santa Clara, in the Villa Clara province. These readers ask me to use images that attest to the events cited, but they overestimate this blogger’s materials and logistics. Regretfully, I inform you that if I had those images in my possession, I would have made them public.

I want to return to the issue because the quasi-clandestine nature of citizen journalism in Cuba is often misunderstood, even by openly dissident bloggers, as is this friend of yours, with the impossibility of being in all scenarios and graphically recording the events that take place. In this continuing saga of repression against individuals and groups who criticize the government, one of the first measures adopted by repressors is precisely to prevent the taking of photographs or videos, a relatively efficient way of conveniently denying the events.

The recent death of John Wilfredo Soto after a brutal police beating in full view at Parque Vidal, loudly denied by the government, could not be recorded, at least not by any citizen who was present, as far as we know today. If pictures do exist, they would be collected by their own security cameras, which, according to friends of this beloved city, are installed at the Hotel and the CADECA, both in front of said park. If the authorities were willing to dispel doubts of the national and international public opinion, by publishing images of Soto’s courteous arrest by the police, the “lying mercenaries” would be ridiculed.

However, the fact that there are no pictures does not mean that the events are not taking place. Unfortunately, there are many examples in history showing “truths in retrospect” shocking photographs and films about something that had been completely ignored, as the existence of the sinister work fields, or the Nazi death chambers, or the atrocities of the Soviets against the Polish people. For example, fairly recently, the world found out about the Katyn events, and though the Internet era certainly facilitates the mobility of the news and allows users to report events in real time, let’s not to forget the conditions in Cuba, where connectivity is minimal and there are only a few who have the ability to occasionally tweet from cell phones.

That’s why our own meager networks are based on a system of solidarity-credibility-confidence. I reported the information that a colleague and friend Carlos Valhuerdi offered me from Santa Clara, and I quote him at every instance. It’s a way to support and protect the most vulnerable: the dissidents in Cuba’s provinces, more exposed than those who live in the capital. To disclose what our friends tell us is a way to offer our faces and run the same fate. It means not being alone, though often we don’t share the same political ideologies, which is not what unites us, but the civic spirit of aspirations for a democratic future for all Cubans. My credibility is certainly the only asset I have, so I can’t afford to put it at risk. I place my trust in friends in Cuba’s interior, as in the case of Luis Felipe Rojas, from the distant San Germán; Ferrer, from Santiago de Cuba or Granma; Dagoberto Valdés and the group Coexistence, in the charming Pinar del Río region; Santa Clara friends or many others. They are all valuable and truthful testimony enough for me. Each is responsible for what they provide, and there are a few of them who suffer persecution, beatings, meetings and even arrests and jail because of it.

I understand that my Santa Clara colleagues have been compiling information, interviews, recordings of testimonies, etc., which will sufficiently support what is reported in this blog and other sites. I will appreciate for those who trust in us and know about the Cuban situation to make the events public and, when appropriate, claim responsibility for their sources. I will count on you.

Translated by Norma Whiting

May 27 2011