14ymedio, Yoani Sánchez, Havana, 26 October 2022 — The neck veins have swollen, the messages have risen in temperature and the headlines of the official press have been filled with demands. The reason for so much tension is a little blue bird that has been tormenting the Cuban regime for more than a decade: Twitter. This time the annoyance has been because the media controlled by the Communist Party on this Island have been labeled on this social network as “affiliated with the Government.”*
The hullabaloo is not understandable, because it comes from the same people who, at the beginning of the microblogging service, cataloged in their national newspapers the platform that, then, allowed text-only messages to be published with 140 characters, as a “technology created by the CIA.” All of us who, in those years of 2008 and 2009, used the potentialities of Twitter – blindly and publishing only by text messages (SMS) – were also put in the sack of “mercenaries,” “enemies,” and “traitors.”
What happened in this time so that now the official spokespeople are rending their garments before the new classification that this social network foists on them? What happened can be summed up in one word: they lost. They were defeated in a battle where they came to fantasize about putting bars on an unruly little character with a loose beak and bright feathers. After biting the dust of strategic and technological failure, little by little the Cuban institutions began to publish their first clumsy tweets. Other people’s grief is what they have given in this time.
They have never enjoyed a good footing with the San Francisco giant, this must be recognized. But not, as they want to make believe now, because they are victims of a universal conspiracy, but because their soldiers’ positions, their prefabricated slogans and the bots are immediately identifiable when it comes to tracking an opinion on Twitter.
Twitter has never been theirs. Everything that totalitarianism cannot control ends up being prohibited or domesticated. Thus we come to the present moment, in which official Twitter accounts complain of being classified abroad with the label that they feel no shame in using within national borders. Isn’t the Granma newspaper the official organ of Cuba’s only allowed party? Haven’t all those national media ratified in their statutes the unrestricted fidelity to an ideology, a model and a group of men?
What happened in these last few hours is nothing more than a shameful response to militant behavior. Militancy that is militancy has no itch to be labeled as such. The “revolutionary who is revolutionary” should rather feel very proud that Twitter signals he is close to the Cuban government. The contradiction emerges when it is verified that, during all this time since the Castro hosts disembarked on the wings of the blue bird, they have wanted to promote themselves as a progressive and alternative force, irreverent and independent. Nothing is so false.
This October the flight circle has closed. So much flapping to appear objective and trustworthy and end up, no longer, on the branch of the obedient. Twitter has just made clear what many of us have been saying for decades: these are not media, they are propaganda; these are not journalists, they are spokespeople. Now, the audience has a mark to decide what to read, whether to prefer pamphlets and sugarcoated articles, or to look further and immerse themselves, through independent media, in the bittersweet reality of this Island.
*Translator’s note: Twitter’s application of a “state-affiliated” identifier on Cuban government accounts began this week.
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