Is It So Easy to Have a Blog in Cuba, Silvio? / Francis Sánchez

Personalities on television, as a matter of privilege, exercise basic rights that are denied to viewers.

The poet, narrator and “ex-blogger” Francis Sanchez.

There appears to have been considerable impact from the TV program “Where there is true affection, two… [are enough],” directed and hosted by the singer Amaury Perez. The guest to close a first and long season was none other than the singer Silvio Rodriguez.

“The last, no!” Silvio exclaimed just before the credits, but Amaury calmed his fears: it’s just the “last program of this series.”

Well the “last” brought the Cuban public moments no less memorable than the rest of the programs. Every Tuesday, marching across the small screen, we saw people who are undoubtedly exceptional for their successes, their intelligence, but also for belonging–the vast majority of them–to a social class quite distinguished within Cuba for their standards of living.

It’s the “high class neighborhood,” where the most provocative that these characters flaunt has nothing to do with the bizarre–although some talk, for example, about a kind of “private cemetery” in Old Havana and the host takes the opportunity to reserve a plot. No. Some of the most curious, shocking, or provocative for viewers has been to see how lightly these people use natural rights and common aspirations, precisely like everyday gestures, the lot of them. Rights converted into small pleasures–say to travel, to live in another country and return to Cuba, to offer an opinion that contradicts… Rights whose prohibition is so important to the Cuban people and to them, they enjoy such opportunities and flaunt them publicly without thinking about the country in which they live, making them doubly special.

Silvio Rodriguez, honored by the official Cuban Journalists Union (UPEC) for his blog Segunda (Second) says, “The vision that Cuban journalism must follow is that of Raul Castro.”

And Silvio Rodriguez, of course, has done no less.

Amaury Pérez asks why he has a blog, if perhaps to debate–did we hear that right? To debate!?–and the other, ex-deputy of the National Assembly of People’s Power, sets aside any weighty motive to describe a very simple technological situation.

Why would someone like Silvio Rodriguez think that it’s difficult to have a blog in Cuba? Perhaps because no one has normal access to the Internet? Perhaps because ETECSA, the Cuban telecommunications company only offers services to foreigners? Perhaps because once you have instantaneously published your thoughts you run the risk of not censoring yourself in time and when you go to look you’ve said something “unsuitable,” and specialist from State Security have come to “help” you? Perhaps it is because they “help” you with such zeal…?

No, what happens for Silvio is just a matter of clicking. He told it like this, “When I went to close the page I looked up and it was saying, ‘Do you want a blog? Click here,’ and then I said, ‘But wait, it can’t be that easy.’ I clicked and a page opened. ‘Put in your name,’ I put my name. ‘Click here. Now you have a blog!’ I didn’t expect it could be like that. And it was. Then I wrote my first piece, which is called a “post” in the blogging world, and now…”

Undoubtedly a memorable moment. So “it can’t be that easy” and this is what it takes, dear people–that is the Cuban public–the process to have a blog? Click here, and now?

"I feel optimistic because we have broken the inertia and we are moving which is the law of the universe."

“Where there is true affection, two… [are enough],” (OMAR SANTANA)

Since last Tuesday there has been no end of friends telling me, “It made me think of you.”

With regards to creating the blog Man in the Clouds, updating it, above all the consequences of daring to keep it, you can still read in the last post that I published there before I closed it. But not everything is there.

I was informed that my email account, on the Cubarte network, no longer existed. And when my brother did me the favor of sending, from his personal account on the same network, an essay to a contest in Mexico, we learned that my work never reached its destination, it was “bounced” and, as contradictory as it might seem, he received a confirmation: “Message received.” And this “confirmation” came from a third account that was never among the addressees, belonging to a vice minister of Cuban culture.

In his program, Amaury Pérez Vidal was worried that Silvio could loose his attraction or mystery after exposing himself in a blog. He asked his guest, “You are you, your songs and your mystery. Won’t revealing the mystery in public be prejudicial for the final result of your songs?”

Someone should explain to Amaury, for his peace of mind, that though installing a satellite dish on his house–as he himself said he had done–should be a greater challenge than having a blog, if something doesn’t take these two technological facilities from him before our eyes, that, in fact, is a mystery.

Ciego de Avila
26 June 2011

Originally published in Diario de Cuba