This past January 11th, nearly 20 activists from the Eastern Democratic Alliance carried out a workshop about the basics of citizen journalism and what could be done with the new information technologies at their reach. I say we carried out because it wasn’t anything other than a few questions I tossed at them to get them interested. The importance of what we now refer to as “citizen journalism” gives human rights activists, social promoters, and dissidents in general a push so that their self-esteems be valued as they deserve, but at the same time is a commitment in itself. The fact that a dissident does not need an editorial chief, nor someone to call them from the outside in order to jot down their denouncements, is a spring which, far from hindering, pushes the dynamics of citizenship as something proactive and not passive.
Websites such as ‘Hablalo sin Miedo’ (‘Speak it Without Fear’), where Cubans can publish denouncements of daily violations, which is only a telephone ring away, is an example of what was debated and taught there. Installing an application on your cell phone to send out text or multimedia (photo, video, audio) messages to any e-mail address is an advancement. This tool, in the hands of people who need to show that they are being harassed or have been beaten, make the aggressor less exempt from punishment.
The faces of the violators taken by their very own targets constitute a different relationship to what we normally refer to as ‘oppressed and oppressors‘. For more than an hour, the debate went on amid journalist ethics and what we know of as ‘objectivity’, and it was well worth it, considering so much abuse and so much silence from part of a watching mass. It was a very nice day, without theoretical poses, displays of intellectuality, nor vain presumptions of knowledge.
In addition to the photo, I leave you all with a list of names of those who participated: Caridad Caballero Batista, her husband Esteban Sande Suarez, José A. Triguero, Eliecer Palma Pupo, Juan Verdecia Torres, Edilberto Sartorio Leyva, Alexander Lam Arredondo, Zuleidis Pérez Velásquez, Luis Jaime Meriño, Yoandri Canales Cruz, A Jiménez de la Cruz, Juan C. Verdecia Domínguez, Juan C Mendoza Martínez, José L Hernández, Franklin Pelegrino del Toro, Berta Segura Guerrero, Eric Sande Suarez, Denis Pino Basulto. We planned to make them Twitter accounts and others, at the distance of a cell phone’s keypad, the possibility of their first photo published on the universal nation known as cyberspace.
I am sending this article to a friend on the island as an image on my cell phone. That way it only costs me 0.30 cents in CUC. Afterward, he will send it, via e-mail, to my blog administrators.
Citizenship without rights. Internet without internet. Congratulations!
Translated by Raul G.
15 January 2011