HAVANA TIMES — Dear friends from my personal blog Cartas desde Cuba (Letters from Cuba), 2016 comes to an end and, after 51 weeks of work, we are going to take some days off starting December 24th. It has been a period of great effort but also of results, the greatest of which we owe to you. [Cartas is also published in English by Havana Times.]
During the present year the family of Letters grew a lot, to be exact double the number of visitors. Such a response demonstrates the growing credibility of the blog, which will celebrate its first decade of life next year.
We were born inside the BBC and, when we proclaimed our independence, some bet that we would not survive without the media and financial scaffolding of the European giant. More than 2 years later and against all odds, we continue to publish.
Without more resources than my savings, we have been very tight financially. We always sail to the edge of bankruptcy but we survived thanks to the help of friends who do not contribute money but ideas of how to do everything less expensive.
One more year has passed of a proposal of journalism that seeks to inform in a balanced, respectful manner and without stridencies. A selection of news that prioritizes issues important to our readers, regardless of whether or not they match our own criteria.
We publish neutral information, praise and criticism without stopping to evaluate to whom each article benefits politically. Those who from extreme positions try to pressure us to “define ourselves” do not understand that we are already defined in favor of truth, with all its prisms and nuances.
That is what has allowed us to grow and also obtain a politically diverse group of Cuban and foreign readers. Letters from Cuba is one of the few spaces in which all sectors debate each other, with arguments and much respect.
Knowing that there are others who think diametrically different from us should help us to understand that there is no absolute truth. And when we exchange opinions we will see that there are people as honest as you who see Cuba in another way.
There are also those who bring to our space the propaganda lies that have been repeated for decades. Some people do it out of ignorance, they have heard it so many times that they end up believing it. Although not everyone is so well intentioned.
I recently read a comment from a reader who said to another something like: “I won the debate” and I wondered if we do not win more when it is the other person who teaches us something. There is no debate more sterile than that which occurs between people who think alike.
A comment from Alberto on the blog says: “I already knew that when I read an intelligent site I ran the risk that sometimes I would change my mind.” Well, that’s happened a lot to me and I have learned a lot, like from reading the comments for and against the US electoral system.
We have already succeeded in creating a plural debate in a framework of respect. I bet we’ll get to the tenth anniversary of Letters from Cuba in November 2017, with a more constructive debate, where we do not seek to “win” but to exchange ideas.
They will tell me that Cubans are too passionate, that a revolution leaves deep wounds between one another, that history weighs too much or that you cannot fight against feelings. And in spite of everything I will continue betting on understanding.
Nothing is easy; it wasn’t convincing the BBC to create this blog in 2007. Leaving the news company and continuing without institutional support or economic resources was a challenge and so was resisting the pressures of extremes to push us towards either side.
When I was a teenager a good friend told me that “in the face of obstacles, one must live thinking that what is difficult is always possible and that the impossible is delayed a little more.” And if you still do not get it? I asked him and he replied “you will have the satisfaction of having lived”.