By Alfredo Fernandez
HAVANA TIMES – Many old repressors from the world of Cuban culture, from the period known as the “Five Gray Years”, made a comeback in 2006, making appearances on TV shows. They were met by the so-called “Email War”, in which Cuban writers angry with these baddies, recalled events in the past and warned Raul Castro’s newly-inaugurated government not to allow such evil characters back into Cuban cultural life.
However, the above was perhaps not the most important thing about this uprising. I personally believe that the most important thing was the immediate and unexpected appearance of bloggers with their own opinions, who took a direct stand against the Cuban government, with young Yoani Sanchez at the heart of this movement.
Greater access to a more open Internet on the island has given rise to a legion of young people who are tackling the country’s deepest issues, with an astounding lack of fear for government repression.
I would like to introduce you to two new YouTubers today, who post videos almost every day, which present or debate (depending on the circumstance) events in today’s Cuba. It has been said that there are already more than 200 YouTubers in Cuba, I have watched many, who deal with issues that range from the inner workings of Cuban show biz, to living conditions in the country’s poorest neighborhoods.
Frank El Makina and Ruhama Fernandez are two members of this new batch of young Cubans who have left fear behind them and have started to speak out, without beating about the bush, about the Cuba they wish for, hope for and dream about.
Frank El Makina normally connects from Zone 6 in Alamar, to the east of Havana. He says he used to teach Chemistry classes at a secondary school for a bit, but then he was seduced by the idea of being a YouTuber ever since he found out that he could create content in this way.
Ruhama is another YouTuber, who connects from Santiago de Cuba. She is a black woman and dissident, she says so herself in her introduction. This is the road young Cubans are taking today, speaking out without any reservations, which would have been unthinkable back in the ‘90s when my generation was also against the government but sat back and waited for things to change in the country, not really doing anything in reality.
Ruhama explains that she was a “Medical student and that she tried to study Law after, but she wasn’t allowed to because of the content on her YouTube channel”, but it doesn’t matter, she says that “nobody will keep her quiet”.
I am proud that there is such a generation of young people in Cuba, who have not only decided to talk about everyday life in the country, but also to criticize it and show its hidden face, always calling things by their real name.
Brave young people like Frank El Makina and Ruhama who are unstoppable, who were asking for national borders to close now because of Coronavirus in their live streams – even when the government was still telling us that it wasn’t necessary – are being listened to by Cubans all over the world, who listen to them freely express their opinions.
Frank El Makina and Ruhama fill people like myself with hope, who also dream of a better future for Cuba.