The Conspiracy Theorists

Armando Chaguaceda

Photo: Caridad

HAVANA TIMES — Over the past several day there have appeared in various blogs from the island, and in their international replicas, accusations pertaining to the counterrevolutionary, conspiratorial and mercenary character of different cultural and media projects – including Havana Times.

The casual repetition of the attack has generated indignation and alarm among those of us who participate in this medium. This has led to a series of personal and collective responses that are seeking to curb or reverse those accusations and their possible effects.

Here is mine.

Those defamatory posts must be read not only for what they write but also in the context in which they were written. The universal gravity of any personal defamation is seen compounded now by the anonymous character of some of the allegations, and — in the Cuban context — the lopsidedness of the resources that exist between those who are unleashing their diatribes and their targets.
The first ones (under personal signatures or pseudonymous) presumably have the sponsorship or approval of institutions and official points of views. The second group must count on inexhaustible moral arguments and the solidarity of decent people of very limited legal resources.

All of this operates in a context where the prerogatives of the state — and the state’s underlings — usually prevail over the guarantees and rights of citizens, communities and sometimes meritorious officials and institutions committed to legality and human dignity.

Those public prosecutors of cyberspace are a clear expression of the “conspiratorial” phenomenon, in which — under a deformation of the rules and content of public and ideological debate — rumors are substituted for arguments, defamation for ethics, and police logic for ideology.

By confusing the diversity of opinions for a conspiracy planned and plotted from some “command post,” the “conspiracy theorists” are doing nothing more than searching for others in the mirror that reflect their modes and motives for interpreting and commenting on the situation that surrounds them.

Having vetoed (or castrated) independent thinking and autonomy, the conspiracy theorists believe that everyone is of their same condition and, therefore, their interpretation is that we HT columnists follow the same logic of that brilliant work by Eduardo del Llano: Brainstorm.

In that short film, mediocrity, dissimulation and lack of initiative characterized the exercise of neutered journalism, in a clear reflection of the appalling conditions that hinder the development of a press such as Cuba’s.

In this way, contrasted with the richness and even the contradictions that fill up the columns of HT, these individuals expand their paranoia (and amplify it to their captive audiences) presenting as conspirators these ordinary citizens exercising their right, enshrined in the constitution, to express themselves freely, without agendas or concealed sponsorship.

There’s another feature that attracts the attention of those who accuse us: their apparent overlooking of the problems and processes of our country and the world in the face of the obsessive priority of presenting supposed “evidence” and “proof” about those voices that upset them.

As it’s known, among the HT columnists are written posts relating to a host of national and global issues — existential or political concerns, sports and the environment, gender and artistic issues — as a sign of a healthy open-mindedness, where the emphasis and priorities of each columnist are complemented by the interests and views of the others, not to mention comments from our readers.

This creates a rich setting for dialogue that usually is not appreciated by extremists, who wish to portray the island and the world as a paradise or hell, depending on their interests.

Instead, it appears that our detractors live in a world and, especially, in a country where all the problems afflicting the people have been solved. They also think that their neighbors and fellow citizens also live as they do.

Flowing from their logic, problems of the everyday lives of each citizen should be subordinated to geopolitical calculations and the peculiar vision that supports the ever changing raision d’etat (reason of the state).

If there’s an outbreak of an epidemic, if there’s a water shortage or if the transportation situation is worsening — to cite only a few examples of everyday stress — the “conspiracy theorists” maintain that none of these situations are relevant to their fellow citizens.

The priority is to make every Cuban understand that conditions in other countries are worse, and that these problems are the fault of external factors. Yet when things can no longer be concealed, the goal is to at least minimize public exposure so as to “not to give weapons to the enemy.”

With ideological debate and assessments absent, the nature of the “conspiracy theorists’” posts exposes them as thematically biased products and, apparently, tele-guided drones.

In their model of the press, their personal agendas merge in a slightly dissonant script, in which many actors play the same character with almost identical lines.

The conspiratorial chorus in which there exists emulation, within the framework of a production plan of injuries, it seems to nourish itself from the airs of competition and efficiency being experienced by the country within the so-called “updating of the model.”

If the cultivators of “conspiranoia” persist along this line, there won’t be any problem – we won’t join in the competition.

If they want to continue their slander, through cliques or circulars, against those of us who practice — as chroniclers or citizens — our always personal and unfinished commitment to the truth, let them go ahead and do it.

But I hope they understand that they will face our responses, personal and concerted, in all the public and legal settings available.

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.

14 thoughts on “The Conspiracy Theorists

  • Thanks for providing information on Haier… I didn’t know about it since in my country there are no products of that brand.

    Off-topic, Alan Gross is a exchange coin for the Cuban 5, his case has little to to with the embargo.

    But your accusations are completely twisted. While Circles used to work in the Cuban media, he started HT as an parallel project, and while some bloggers do work for the Cuban government, given the critical articles they publish, one must argue that their work relations have nothing to do with they write here. You want ‘facts’, right? Show me that anyone in this site gets paid to say good things about the Cuban government. You, my friend, is the conspiracy theorist here.

  • Josue,

    When you have no facts you blame Bush and the Embargo. Come on. Fidel doesn’t even do that anymore.

    I just got the Havana yellow pages and there is a full page ad on the back cover for the Chinese appliance maker Haier.

    Cubans can buy the same crap from China that we buy here in the US.

    If the Castro’s wanted the Embargo lifted, they can start by releasing Alan Gross.

    Sorry, I am way off topic now.

    I said what I wanted to say referring back to the title of this article “Conspiracy Theorists”. No conspiracy, just the truth that Circles used to work for the Cuban government, HT was endorsed by the Cuban government and all the bloggers work for the Cuban government.

    No conspiracy here. Just the facts.

  • We are with you in the daily struggle for truth and the right of any citizen to express what each of us has as our own truth, which is one of the truths. Others can also have their own truth, and one must respect that if we are not robots.

  • Confront, Chaguaceda says — although I don’t understand with whom-, the Cuban blogosphere is nourished by countless pamphlets that are well recognized within a group of government employees, solely and exclusively, not by the Cuban population (the causes are understood), much less internationally. Then, considering that he could have made a comparison with the global diffusion that Havana Times, to me it seems especially unlikely that there will be any debate with these people who always use their stagnant, limited, repetitive and insubstantial arguments.

    Let’s get to the point. HT lives in an environment of self-permissions that include discrepancy, consistency and adherence… understanding that as a brutal contrast with those who practice the religion of partiality, sectarianism and suffer from their own paranoia typical of a system that even when dead will not recognize its own death. I understand the need to seek responses to unfounded discrediting and the rat-like Cubadebaters, to the recurrent and obtuse rhetoric that they usually apply, their cowardly and pitiful reaction to others, which then turns into violence towards anything different. But in this case, it’s fitting to apply the old saying: “For foolish words, deaf ears”

  • It’s what’s expected. HT is afraid…and there’s nothing wrong with that – it’s human. But trying to talk to tyrants is to serve them. This takes place in two ways: 1) that of tough guys who tell the Cuba dictatorship to go to hell 2) or singing to yo-yos. We’ll see, but I bet you end up singing to the yo-yos.

  • Mr. Josue resorts to hackneyed official arguments. I pray to the dear Lord to define what is “revolutionary.” It’s certainly not the Cuban government or its leaders, which are currently situated within realm of reaction, conservatism and immobility. They don’t have anything to do with the true left.

    For those who think like you, anyone who does not praise the “mighty(?)” “revolution(?)” or the brilliant ideas of the Comandante is on the extreme right. I assure you that most of those who write and believe in this blog are more revolutionary than that sclerotic and repressive officialist Cuban scaffolding. They continue to use diatribes, the discrediting of their adversaries, distortions and lies in an environment where all of them count on the necessary impunity. Citing the “Third World” you are trying to justify the unjustifiable.

    HT has nothing to do with the ultra-reactionary right wing of Miami or Havana, the latter embodied in people like you and your official sponsors. Both extremes are made for each other. They feed on each other. And neither cares about our people. Mr. Josue, you and your government must stop using your Goebbelsian tactics. No one believes in them anymore. You dread independent thinking. You know the blockade/embargo of Cuba is heinous and condemned. It’s disgusting and immoral – just like the blockage/embargo that the Cuban authorities and their spokesmen like you have subjected the Cuban people to. Take a good look, my friend, to see where the real mercenaries are. Look around and you will see plenty of them within the domesticated official media. I congratulate HT and I reiterate my support.

  • I have no desire to embellish what I think, but this post is making me dizzy. I think if you people write your opinions and truths, you must also be able to tolerate the opposite. You call everyone who defends the revolutionary process totalitarian, stagnant, extremists, old and bureaucrats, dumping them in all the same bag. So then you should quietly endure those who also defend the truths they express. Ok

    I don’t read HT much, but it’s coincidental that only destructive criticism is written and often unsubstantiated “proof,” and then you receive feedback from the First World – mainly from the Cuban extreme right, from all those people for whom Cuba’s problems are inconceivable in the First World.

    You forget that Cubans are living in a Third World country, one that is blockaded on top of that. I never see themes dealing with the economic persecution of foreign companies and the continuing fines that are imposed on them by the US almost every month for trading with Cuba. I don’t see an analysis about how the cholera epidemic killed only three people and infected as few as 158 when in any Third World country thousands die without hospitals and many more become infected. That we don’t read.

    What impression do you think people will have who read that news in tourist generating countries? Cuba is hell. Coleraaaaaa.

    You also have a responsibility to the people of Cuba.

    I live in the United States now and luckily I have lived in Third World countries of Latin America with greater GDPs than Cuba’s. When I explain the economic and social problems of the current economic crisis of Cuba and also of how Cuban society functions in general, with the social gains despite all the shortages. The poor people of those countries, who are the vast majority, say we’re crazy if we complain because we have what they have never dreamed of having, even with our deficiencies.

    In writing, you are forgetting the geopolitics and the history of humankind through all of its stages up to this latest global distribution and domination by monopoly capitalism.

    The future of Cuba is not in the cards. Cuba is also a victim of world politics, but you only criticize it, focusing your magnifying glass on the problems but without discussing the circumstances or proposing solutions.

    Your response will surely be that this is why there’s the official media. You know, I think maybe you’re right and those who think like you write to please the enemy on the right are wrong, but the reality is that if HT changes its editorial policy it will lose most of its audience, which is totally extreme right. You only have to read and find this in 90 percent of the opinions. I’m convinced that if some of you define yourselves as revolutionaries, you will lose 90 percent of your followers. It’s up to you.

    I have sometimes said that HT gives biased and incomplete views about much news from Cuba. These are copied almost entirely from the Miami Herald, like when you reported that mercenary Bicet testified to the US Congress under oath about human rights violations committed against him and asked for freedom, etc., etc. HT but didn’t publish the best part: where Bicet describes the unbelievable torture he was subjected to, which was something hard for anyone to believe, and his pleading for an invasion of Cuba in the Yugoslavian (Kosovo) style and the full implementation of the Helms Burton Act.

    The news from the Herald and HT was identical, as if they wanted to protect Bicet since they know full well that what he declared was and is not accepted or supported by the people of Cuba.

    I personally wrote a letter to Circles [the HT editor] giving my opinion on this important omission so that more could be known about a miserable mercenary such as Bicet. I also wrote to [HT writers] Erasmo and to Isbel to complete the sharing of these facts about this person, and I sent the full transcript of the statement that Bicet made to Congress, which I found on YouTube, yet no one posted any opinion about this supposed dissident leader awarded by Bush for asking for an invasion and the strengthening of the blockade against Cuba.

    What do you expect from those who defend our nation?

  • Havana Times is anything but counterrevolutionary, what’s more, even some of them are apologetic… I really haven’t seen anything rebellious here, and when sometimes someone reaches a confrontational decibel, there’s always a nice rounding off, after a tap on the head… and it’s not without reason, quite the opposite. I actually thought I’d find blunt reviews about the failure of socialism here. But no, it “recognizes” the good points, ha ha ha… I wish it were true, a counterrevolutionary Havana Times…

  • Thanks for the backhanded compliment by saying while I am not the enemy I have a rigid way of thinking as if I have some ideology that I am pushing.

    My “rigid way of thinking” is called the truth while your reply is simply Communist Propaganda 101: Always deflect the conversation away from the truth.

  • Rob, I have to agree with Michael here. It’s naive to think that anyone writing about political issues will be objective. Just go to any other news outlet and you’ll see that each of them has its own subjective way of interpreting issues. Most corporate news outlets shape their stories in such a way as to support their pro-corporate message. Similarly, most independent news sources may shape their stories to reflect a pro-worker message. If you keep your mind open and read news from different parts of the spectrum, you can find there is truth somewhere in the middle. So if you think Havana Times is too “pro Cuban government” you are free to read other sources. Take it for what it is. No one is going to spoon feed you the truth. You have to make the effort and find answers for yourself.

  • Since most of those who write the diaries, features and opinion pieces for the HT live in Cuba and, unless part of the new and growing private sector, have day jobs, and hence are paid by the government, you could say that they are paid by the government; however, your implication is misleading, since these writers are paid for their regular, non-HT jobs (just check out the bios. which accompany their articles). As for objectivity, that is, has been, and always will be, a myth. I don’t think Circles, or any of the HT writers, make that claim; what they do claim, however, is that they are trying to present the truth as they see it. Although influenced by the policies of the Cuban government, more often than not they seek to change them by democratizing them. This has been the long struggle of the human race, to come up with a system of economic, social and political democracy, one which encourages each individual to develop his or her potential. Finally, rob, you are not the enemy, but your rigid way of thinking is, and this characteristic is exemplified both on the right and the left, and in religion, art, and philosophy.

  • Michael,

    Of course I am the enemy. Of course you compare me to McCarthy.

    While your hero admits that he worked for the Cuban government and that was endorsed/founded by the Cuban government, I am wrong to assume that is STILL influenced by the Cuban government?

    Right. I get it. You are right. Circles is objective. All the authors here are objective even though ALL of them get money from the Cuban government.

    You have the typical Communist reply, attack the messenger not the message.

  • Rob, you sound like the late Sen. Joe McCarthy (i.e. “Are you now, or have you ever been, a member of the Communist Party?” etc. etc. If you have consistendly read the diaries, the features, the news and opinion pieces of the Havana Times over the past several years you would be able to answer your own [rhetorical] questions. It is self-evident that neither the Havana Times, nor its editor and founder, nor its writers and contributors, are independent of the Cuban government. Are they influenced by the policies of the Cuban government? Certainly. Sometimes positively; more often negatively, but with constructive, rather than destructive, criticism. In other words, for the most part HT offers democratic criticism of government policies from the left. You seem to be into oaths, Rob. More often than not, oaths offer meer lip-service. Perhaps during the early and white-hot phases of any revolution–the French Revolution, the American Revolution, the Russian Revolution or the Cuban Revolution–such oaths are meaningful (!Fiel! !Fiel a Cuba! !Fiel a La Revolucion! Ahora mi, ahora mi, en la defensa de la Revolution.!” etc. etc.), but in the long run, such oaths and pledges are the prattle of childhood; like the priestly formulae of religions, but just like growing from childhood to maturity, in the end we realize the superficiality of such affirmations. In the end, it is actions, rather than words, which prove “which side you’re on.”

  • When your founder admits that he used to work for the Cuban government and even writes “Havana Times began as a project endorsed by UPEC president Tubal Paez”, would people be led to believe that Havana Times is, at the very least, influenced by the Cuban government and NOT independent of it?

    Will Cirlces Robinson publicly announce that he is in no way currently connected with the Cuban government and that Havana Times is in no way influenced in any way by any Cuban government agency?

    If he will come out and publicly state that he and HT are not in any way connected to, influenced, directed or reviewed by any Cuban government agency, I would consider thinking about the possibility that Circles and HT are independent.

    So, Circles, will you be making any statement?

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