Blogger = contra?

Dmitri Prieto

Old Havana Street - photo: Caridad

Last Friday morning I happened to be riding in a car where the driver was listening to “Making Radio”, the morning program of a national Cuban radio station.  The program’s commentator had selected the theme of the Internet for his broadcasting message.

He was saying that despite all the hype received by that cybernetic network of networks as a supposedly democratic space for free expression, there are significant topics that the net distorts.  At times, even the system’s technical interface impedes access to real information.

He gave several example related to Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.  Afterwards, he concentrated on the Cuban case.  In making his point, he stated the following: “If one types ‘Cuba’ in the Google search engine, the first things that come up are not the news from the island itself but articles from rightist newspapers or from bloggers.”

And then he clarified: “Bloggers – writers who write on the Internet to attack the revolution.”

I suddenly felt a mild sensation of shock.  I’ve never heard a more distorted definition of the term blogger.

To the best of my knowledge, in Cuba there are bloggers from all the political tendencies: for and against the government; for and against the revolution; as well as some who I imagine don’t give two cents for politics.

I ask myself: what will be the effect of this definition offered by the commentator on those who don’t have access to the Internet.  Such people, unfortunately, still represent the majority of Cubans.

Those who can’t themselves read any blogs will believe that bloggers are nothing more than despicable and divisive persons who dream of nothing better than to take away their homes, free health care and education.

All this despite the fact that the blogs usually judged as contra-revolutionary are in general not accessible from Cuba.  On the other hand, official organizations such as the Journalists’ Union (UPEC) have promoted among their membership the idea that they should start their own blogs to proclaim to the world the truth about Cuba.  But if there isn’t any access to the Internet, by definition, neither these blogs nor the other blogs will be seen on the island.

I wonder if the radio commentator had a harmful and provocative intention in defining all bloggers as “contras” or if he simply was mistaken in his excess of militant zeal.  Either way, I felt his message to be hurtful and distorted.

It’s a shame.

Dimitri Prieto-Samsonov

Dmitri Prieto-Samsonov: I define myself as being either Cuban-Russian or Russian-Cuban, indiscriminately. I was born in Moscow in 1972 of a Russian mother and a Cuban father. I lived in the USSR until I was 13, although I was already familiar with Cuba-- where we would take our vacation almost every year. I currently live on the fifth floor of an apartment building in Santa Cruz del Norte, near the sea. I’ve studied biochemistry and law in Havana and anthropology in London. I’ve written about molecular biology, philosophy and anarchism, although I enjoy reading more than writing. I am currently teaching in the Agrarian University of Havana. I believe in God and in the possibility of a free society. Together with other people, that’s what we’re into: breaking down walls and routines.

2 thoughts on “Blogger = contra?

  • Michael N. Landi said >>”doesn’t understand the net. Is he over sixty? “<<
    Hey, hold on now — I'm pushing 60 and I look after networks and online media where I work. What the bradcaster doesn't understand is un-mediated, un-official communication.

  • Sounds like the commentator is out of the loop and doesn’t understand the net. Is he over sixty? Even though most Cubans might not have access to sites deemed counter-revolutionary, I suspect many younger Cubans are bright enough so that, if they so wished, they could easily circumvent these filters and access such sites. Accessing such sites are a low–or even non-existent–priority for them. Instead, they want to know more about the outside world, or, if they have special interests, simply to connect with like-minded folks. This whole episode reminds me of an hilarious incident which happened up here a few years ago. Larry King, a well-known cable network host, inadvertently revealed to a guest he was interviewing that he knew little about the internet (“What is it? Do you punch a bunch of buttons, or something?”) It turned out that he relied on younger flunkies to do internet searches, send and answer e-mails, etc..

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