Dreamer and Disconnected / Luis Felipe Rojas

Photo: Luis Felipe Rojas

I was able to hear, via a radio show being transmitted from Miami, the reading of an article by a Cuban writer named Eduardo del Llano. It was a perfect sonata defending the right of Cuban workers and dissidents to strike. “Why not?”, asked del Llano. I was greatly impressed by the light and fresh prose of the excellent humorist and I really wanted to be able to re-read that specific work. I wanted to see those blunt words on my lap top (which, of course, has no internet connection) so I could reply to him in regards to two phrases that didn’t sound right to me, and congratulate him regardless. I sent a friend of mine so that he could download the mentioned article, while dodging the cyber-informers, but he called me from his province with fatal news. There were connection problems. “There is no internet access to that blog from my work place”, he assured.

When I tried to do it on my own, a blue logo popped up and told me: “Internet Explorer cannot display this web site”, and immediately another sign followed it which amicably suggested: “You can try the following- Diagnose connection problems”. And it went on like that forever, that sign which haunts me like a childhood ghost and which props up for certain pages and names, like a sharp weapon of the Cuban cyber-police: “Internet Explorer cannot display this web site” or “You are using an outdated version of FireFox, try again with an updated one”. I swear I would try it if it weren’t for the fact that 6.00 CUC or 150 Cuban pesos only allows me 60 minutes on the internet.

Not too long ago, my uncle asked me if Facebook was an epidemic created by the Yankees (Americans), and I really just wanted to laugh. But I didn’t want to miss the morning coffee and I asked him why he was asking that. According to him, he had read a Cuban newspaper where they hurled countless insults against “that Facebook thing”. I also did not laugh because I am not a masochist, because, I admit it, sometimes I’m not that much of a good Cuban, like the manuals say, to laugh at all my misfortunes.

A friend of mine from the university who now works at a weekly provincial newspaper was recently complaining about having lost contact with other friends on Facebook. His ideological chiefs in Havana had prohibited the use of this virtual tool for those working for the state-run press. According to him, he had no way of replying to attacks made on the local healthcare and the health care of Cuba in general. When he complained, they responded by stating that it was an order from above, suggesting names like Ramiro Valdes, Jose Ramon Machado Ventura, Rolando Alfonso Borges, or some other information capo from the Central Committee.

It was many months ago when I lost my Facebook friends, that I cannot follow them from a cybercafe with the occasional internet card given to me by other internet surfers or tourists who have decided to join me in solidarity. I have not been able to upload images of that Cuba which the regime allows me to photograph, or to write 200-word screams from a crazy man from his island-prison.

On Twitter, and with the modest re-charges which friends have provided me, I have been able to spit out a couple of letters every once in a while.

Translated by Raul G.

30 July 2011