Jorge Milanes

Looking up at the Focsa building.  Photo: Juan Suarez
Looking up at the Focsa building. Photo: Juan Suarez

HAVANA TIMES — It gives me great pleasure to write for Havana Times because I am free to write about what I wish. I’ve been publishing my diaries (and sharing opinions, describing situations and commenting on socio-cultural phenomena, including those in my neighborhood) for several years now, always from my own point of view.

I have sometimes agreed and sometimes disagreed with the criticisms people level at me, but I have never been offended by any. I make a point of listening to and respecting the opinions of everyone.

After a very pleasant chat with a friend, I left her with a bit of “homework”: to visit Havana Times. When I saw her again at Cuba’s Book Fair, I asked her if she had had the chance to visit HT, and her reply bordered on the aggressive.

My friend (whose name I will not reveal for ethical reasons) apparently disagrees with many aspects of the page, including the editorial line which centers on criticisms of our country. She did, however, like the design of the page.

She believes that all media represent a party, a government, an institution, an organization, an association or some other interests. This is true, but it is also undeniable that everyone has the inalienable right to express what they think in the manner they deem appropriate.

So, if we are always subject to a power above us that gives or denies us the possibility of publicly expressing a decision, situation or problem, over and above certain “restrictions,” calling for a site that favors the “well written” over what “can be said” suggests that my friend does not understand the freedom HT champions.

I took her age into consideration and concluded it was next to impossible to make her understand any of the explanations I offered her. She was brought up during Cuba’s dogmatic years, where the possible was part of a utopian vision that today, without a doubt, stifles us more than anything else.

Faced with this situation, I told my friend what I said at the beginning. I also explained to her the need to learn how to listen, to tolerate others, that this is something needed by today’s world, where nearly all of us are connected through different media, able to stay connected to the Internet the day through and allowing our lives to be “part of the show.”

It is no longer just the “media”. Each and every one of us are part of this virtual world through social networks, networks which, incidentally, very few have the privilege to access on the island, increasing our sense of isolation.

My friend went silent and changed the subject. So as not to push her, I agreed to the change in subject.

She may be afraid of the diversity of opinions that we always run into.

Jorge Milanes

Jorge Milanes: My name is Jorge Milanes Despaigne, and I’m a tourism promoter and public relations specialist. Forty-five years ago I was born in Cojimar, a small coastal town to the east of Havana. I very much enjoy trips and adventure; and now that I know a good bit about my own country, I’d like to learn more about other nations. I enjoy reading, singing, dancing, haute cuisine and talking with interesting people who offer wisdom and happiness.

4 thoughts on “Why I Write for Havana Times

  • Jorge, as with so many who read the Havana Times, thank you and all those affiliated with this venue for enlightenment and diversity! I have fifteen websites I visit each morning and evening and The Havana Times is right up there!

  • I am glad to hear that Cubans have access to this site. They will measure what we say against their own experience. In particular this should cause concern for those who would rather choke to death than say something positive about Cuba. I think this also applies to those who cannot bear to hear any criticism of Cuba.

  • My wife’s grandfather in Guantanamo often says that because Fidel has access to more information than he does, he is inclined to trust Fidel’s decisions. He is an 80-ish year old retired lawyer! He thinks that more information could be dangerous depending on where it comes from. For him freedom of speech is scary.

  • Freedom of speech can be frightening to some people. The diversity of opinions expressed at Havana Time, in the articles and the comments, is what makes it a unique presence among blogs and websites about Cuba. Almost all the rest take one position and one position only.

    Keep writing, Jorge!

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