On Cuban Blogger Yoani Sanchez’ Silence

Armando Chaguaceda

Yoani Sánchez. Foto: desdecuba.com

HAVANA TIMES — Some time ago, in 2011, when blogger Yoani Sanchez was being vilified and celebrated with equal hysteria – to the point that posters with her likeness and movies scripts about her life began to appear – I commented that what was truly valuable about her blog, Generation Y, went beyond its author, that it stemmed from the effectiveness of its message (as a chronicle or critique) regarding Cuba’s Kafkaesque and uncivil reality.

One may disagree or concur with its author, but I feel this blog became a media and a political phenomenon not only (or chiefly) because of Sanchez’ skillful penmanship.

It is so because of the context within which it comes into being and is divulged, in spite of everything false and adversarial that conspires against it – an upside-down, post-totalitarian world, constantly vibrating with contradictions, where the official truth (actually fiction) and the unflinching and naked authenticity exposed by those below, the reality which those in power seek to conceal and discredit, to veil or silence by way of accomplices.

I write this when some friends begin to comment on Sanchez’ cyber-silence and while a number of commentators on Facebook joke about her hypothetical and imminent revelation, that she is in fact a Cuban State Security agent. In the midst of this hemorrhage of oracular predictions, I want to ratify the ideas I expressed two years ago:

If, tomorrow, Sanchez grew tired of it all and decided to start cultivating bonsai trees, if she suddenly opened a private restaurant in Havana or even if she toed the line and assumed the country’s “call of duty” (something unlikely), this would in no way invalidate her contributions as a blogger.

For, going to the very end in the search for examples that attest to the obstinacy of reality, are not the literary or journalistic pieces of the security agents who were once dissidents not a shadow of what these individuals once did? Today, they lie while seeking to tell us their truth…before they expressed truth from their false existence, in the midst of triumphalist speeches and the boring articles of the official press.

There is also something laudable in the way this young woman from Havana has acted, in the fact that, with a relative degree of success, this philologist-turned-media-icon skirted one of the problems faced by Cuba’s cultural and political activism, a disease that is independent of the ideological sign of those who endure or propagate it: that of the personality cult.

Such an attitude flourishes whenever we set out in search of martyrs or redeemers devoid of humanity, denied the right to make mistakes or harbor doubts, denied any imperfection or capacity for weariness, capable of solving all of the country’s problems, from the mismanagement of macro-economic affairs to the sourness of rissoles, from the lack of civil liberties to the poor quality of deodorants.

This phenomenon, to be sure, is not unique to us Cubans, in our peripheral and cyber-less condition. Suffice it to note the complacent cult to that post-modern and egocentric elf, Julian Assange, which spreads across the social networks, to get a sense of what I mean.

Because of all this, because I never worshipped her posts or Tweets, because I never expected any kind of “revolutionary guidance” from her, I consider the abundance of demands being placed on the blog and her author rather senseless.

The best contribution Generation Y made is having unleashed a plural and unstoppable wellspring of opinions, messages, different forms of digital expression and new authors which were unthinkable before the Yoani Sanchez phenomenon had become a media spectacle.

I am not saying Sanchez is the mother of Cuba’s blogosphere (at least, not chronologically speaking), but that she is the person who, thanks to her appeal and craft, has done the most to insert this community into the global context and make it resonate there.

Today, storing countless clicks, contemptuous and reverential comments every second, a growing tangle of voices and platforms from the Left and Right, supportive or critical of the Cuban government, intimate or journalistic in nature, strengthen and broaden the pillars of Cuba’s still-precarious public sphere.

The essential point to walk away with is that Generation Y is infinitely more important and powerful than the fragile figure of its architect and, more importantly, than her longings, pauses or weariness.

Armando Chaguaceda

Armando Chaguaceda: My curriculum vitae presents me as a historian and political scientist. I'm from an unclassifiable generation who collected the achievements, frustrations and promises of the Cuban Revolution and now resists on the island or contributes through numerous websites, trying to remain human without dying in the attempt.


34 thoughts on “On Cuban Blogger Yoani Sanchez’ Silence

  • January 21, 2014 at 9:17 am
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    You cannot separate what is going on in Cuba and the ongoing 54-year old U.S hostilities against that country.
    Let there be an end to the U.S. hostilities which were explicitly set in place to create bad living conditions for the country and then you can legitimately and unhypocritically criticize the undemocratic Cubans forms .
    Multi-party elections BTW, are no insurance for free and democratic elections .
    You do not need political parties at all and, in fact, political parties come between a society and democracy in how they support their own ends and those of the wealthy who support their campaigns.

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