HAVANA TIMES — How is one to conduct serious research in alternative spaces in Cuba without becoming frustrated in the process?
How is one to look for opportunities to converse with colleagues from other countries, without sinking in the quicksand of bureaucracy?
A group of people whose common denominator is the fact we live in Cuba and study things that are of little interest to the “official” academia – things that are important for a great number of people here – have decided to try and attend the Congress of the Latin American Studies Association (LASA) to be held in Puerto Rico later this year.
To achieve this, we’ve put together a collective initiative called “Cuban Minority Voices to Borinquen,” whose members study everything from Cuban sci-fi, through feminist issues and the works of Cuban novelist Reinaldo Arenas, to the most recent ethnic contributions to this Caribbean country. Those who read me should also know that the group includes three Havana Times bloggers (Regina, Yasmin and myself).
Why speak of a “Puerto Rican roulette”? First, because Puerto Rico is politically dependent on the US federal government, which is the one that issues visas to enter the country – and these are sometimes denied*.
Second, because our research does not enjoy the institutional support of State entities, foundations or NGOs, we had to resort to that form of micro-financial experiment (relying on the concept of the “global village”) known as crowdfunding. This was a rather difficult experience for some of us that have neither the means nor the connectivity required for it. It is a different kind of roulette. Will we survive?
Our platform is available at: https://www.tilt.com/campaigns/cuban-minority-voices-to-borinquen/description
There, you can see the range of issues that are of interest to us. If any is of interest to you, and you have the means to lend us a hand, you can also offer us your support there.
Exchanging ideas with people from other countries or with different opinions is not a luxury, it is a need. Succeeding in this initiative would be a signal that autonomous social research in Cuba can already walk on its own two feet.
(*) Almost always as a result of Clause 214(b) of the Federal Migration Act, which presupposes that the planet’s population can be divided into two categories: (a) inhabitants of the United States and (b) people desirous of becoming inhabitants of the United States, a US official believes that someone who is not an inhabitant of the United States doesn’t have strong enough ties to their current home, they must be denied entry into the country…lest they make their wishes come true.