Archive for the ‘Translator: Mari Mesa Contreras’ Category

Gift or Punishment?

May 15, 2010 Leave a comment

Sunday, May 9, Yoani Sánchez, author of the Blog Generation Y, communicated to some friends via Twitter the following information.

“I have received a huge gift for the Mother’s Day celebration, a police citation to appear in the Fourth Station tomorrow.”

Yoani Sanchez is the most celebrated blogger in Cuba, but she has not been distinguished by the official media of the Island, in spite of the international awards she has received and her contribution to the new technologies. Her blog, a divine virtual tribune, unleashed hatred and persecution against her person.

Since she received the “Ortega y Gasset” journalism prize, State Security Agents watch her home. On November 7, 2009, she was kidnapped and beaten in a Vedado street by three police officers. The deed was repeated at the end of February, when she was on her way to sign a book of condolence for the death of the political prisoner of conscience Orlando Zapata Tamayo.

To silence the criticisms from the young writer, the government combines political persecution with an Internet campaign against her. They try to disqualify her through siege, rumors, and slander in the official press. In the academic and cultural government institutions, with Internet access, they hold meetings against her, while the main communication media of the regime reproduce a romanced biography that distorts her contribution to citizen’s journalism

The citation of last Sunday arrived at her home while she celebrated with her parents, son and husband the Mother’s Day holiday, one of the most sacred days of the Cuban culture. On two previous occasions, she has been cited with the intent to intimidate her. The Immigration authorities have denied, four times, her travel permission requests to attend academic events and to pick up her international awards.

Yoani Sanchez earned her celebrity status because of the excellence and concision in the post she writes on Generation Y, which is read and commented on by millions. Her fame also comes from her initiative to grow the island’s blogosphere, known as the Blogger Journey, for creation of the platform Cuban Voices, plus the creation of the First Blogger Academy in Cuba, and for the proposal in favor of dialogue and the tolerance as a way to solve the problems of the country.

The recent police citation against the signature Blogger of our island is another attempt to extinguish the voices of those who assume freedom to speak and write without censorship and without political mandates. It was truly another attempt at punishment because the police later made up an excuse to postpone the citation. In the end, it is a threat of a possible punishment.

Translated by: Mari Mesa Contreras

Neither Tough Guys Nor Cowards

February 10, 2010 Leave a comment

An Argentine tourist commented to some bloggers in Havana that Cubans don’t fight against the communist dictatorship.  “They don’t fight, they don’t unite for their demands, I haven’t seen signs, strikes, or banging on pots and pans against the government, like what happened in Argentina, Chile or Uruguay during the military regimes.”

The perception has its own logic.  The tourists who interact with some of the opposition describe the problems of the island, smelling of repression and police impunity.  Almost all end up asking, “Where is the courage of the Cubans?  Why don’t they fight for their freedom?”

In principle, they are right, what they can’t understand is that the socialist regime, contrary to the traditional dictatorships, leaves the citizens totally helpless. The group that owns the power also owns the media, the press and the productive forces, which allows them to control the economy, the culture, and the teachings through a party that excludes the rest of the political forces and imposes the ideology of the ruling government.

To this characteristics you add the proclaimed “Social conquests” (Education, health and social security), the supposed fight against the imperialism, the economic embargo and the propaganda about the exceptional Cuban revolution, principal pill of the speech that legitimizes the regime, whose ideologists make their own the most beautiful ideals to justify the violation of the fundamental freedoms of the citizens.

The proclaimed “exceptionality” of Cuba is a myth as deceitful as the Cuban courage. The history shows that systematic repression keeps our people in check. There is a terror incorporated since the 1960s. The massive firing squads, and the exaggerated jail terms against those who dared to dissent still paralyze the citizens. Perhaps this is the reason that the simulation — people faking what they think — the treating of everything as a joke, and the tendency to emigrate instead of facing the dictatorship, confused people of good will who worry about the situation of the island.

Cubans are neither tough nor cowards.  Those who compare us with East Germans, Czechs, Poles, and Romanians, do not know or forget that these nations endured communist totalitarianism that the Soviet Union imposed on them at the end of the Second World War until it fell into a crisis in the mid-eighties.

The Island regime no longer counts on the resources and cooperation of the old Soviet Union, but it receives help from other governments and maintains totalitarian control intact despite the ineffectiveness of its  system of domination.  It is logical to think of the union of the opposition forces in massive demonstrations — like what worked in Argentina or Chile — but this does not work in Cuba.  Here there is a transmutation of values.  We are so saturated with slogans and enemies that people turn the page when they hear talk of bravery and patriotism.

Translated by: Mari Mesa