Yoani Sanchez, Havana, 23 March 2011 — Had I hired an ad agency and a nimble publisher to disseminate the work of the alternative bloggers, I probably would not have accomplished such wide awareness of our existence, within Cuba, as that achieved thanks to the “Cyberwar” program shown Monday on official television. The tangible result is that my phone hasn’t stopped ringing and I’m hoarse from talking to so many people who have come to show me their solidarity. My sunglasses — as big as owl’s eyes — are no longer enough camouflage for me to pass unnoticed in my city. Every few yards someone approaches me on the street to offer words of encouragement and even big hugs, the kind that take my breath away.
What’s happening on this island such that those of us “stoned” by official insults have become so attractive? What happened to the time when aggravating State media represented years and years of ostracism and vilification? When did the spontaneous anger against those slandered, the sincere punch in the face for the stigmatized, fade away? I swear I was not prepared for this. I imagined that 24 hours after this pack of lies, told in emulation of Big Brother, everyone would pull away, stare fixedly at the cobwebs on the wall whenever I passed by. The result, however, has been so different: a complicit wink, a pat on the shoulder, the pride of neighbors who are surprised because a certain quiet and frail little woman who lives on the fourteenth floor is apparently enemy number one — at least this week — until the next to be stoned appears.
And I’m not the only one. Almost all the bloggers whose names and images appeared on the “Interior Ministry Soap Opera” are experiencing similar situations. Vendors at the farmers market who hand them a piece of fruit in passing, drivers of collective taxis who say, “You don’t pay today, sir, it’s on the house.” If the scriptwriters of that courtroom TV show had calculated such a response at the grass roots level, I think they would have refrained from putting our faces on television. But it’s already too late. The word “blog” is now irrevocably linked with our faces, glued to our skin, associated with our actions, tied to popular concerns, and synonymous with that prohibited zone of reality that is becoming more and more magnetic, more and more admired.
23 March 2011
Here is the TV show Yoani refers to, in 2 videos with English subtitles: Cyberwar in Cuba’s Reasons