‘I Do Not Normally Post These Kinds of Publications’

Las personas, ante el miedo, justifican lo que van a publicar con que no es una conducta habitual. (14ymedio)
People, in the face of fear, justify what they are going to publish by saying that it is not common behavior. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Yoani Sánchez, Generation Y, Havana, 31 December 2023 — In my childhood, letters always began with “I hope upon receipt of this letter.” Now, many Cubans on Facebook warn in their first line: “I am not used to making this kind of publication.” Both formulas introduce a text and seek to create a link between the writer and their reader, but they are separated not only by the distance of decades but also by intentions. One is a mere cliché, the other is evidence of fear.

In Cuba, those who have expressed themselves freely through social networks have been penalized so much, in one way or another, that the fear of making a complaint visible, requesting medicine or reporting the state’s apathy is enormous. People feel that they have to apologize in advance for exercising their right to spread their opinions or to demand everything, from having food arrive at the ration store to having a hospital bathroom cleaned. The majority feel obliged to offer that disclaimer to make it clear that only in this extreme case are they appealing to make their annoyance or desperation visible.

They also want to distance themselves from activists, independent journalists and opponents who have made the virtual square the space to disseminate their actions, information or platforms. Before the inquisitive eyes of the political police that monitor the web, it must be clear that the Internet user in question has made an exception to their rules and has published their feelings this one time, only this once. If a co-worker were to check their Facebook wall to see what content they have shared, the colleague must also get the impression that this post is the result of urgency and will not become a habit.

The message is also intended for strangers. They will know that once the problem is solved and the personal crisis subsides, that Facebook account will go back to just posting family photos, ribbon-adorned hearts, and celebrity gossip. There should be no doubt that, after the current complaint, there will be no political positioning, no dissident attitude and, much less, the conversion of the individual into a digital leader that summons others and overshadows the prominence of officials and party leaders.

The “I do not normally post these types of publications” is a summary of the terror that has been instilled in us towards our own words. Using that formula goes beyond a platitude, it is perpetuating the gag that has been imposed on us.


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