Vicente Morin Aguado
HAVANA TIMES — We are witnessing an unprecedented event in the history of the Revolution: a public collection has been summoned under the title “Let’s save Cartas desde Cuba!”, so as to save a personal blog which has been very successful, created by Uruguayan journalist Fernando Ravsberg, who has been living in Havana for the past 28 years.
The abovementioned correspondent has been complaining about not receiving an affirmative response to several requests for new accreditation to work in the country. Having lost his job as a foreign correspondent, his personal income has disappeared which was what he used to finance the controversial website, a news website which was completely dedicated to Cuban issues, taking a different approach to those issued by the government in its propaganda machine.
Why is the Cuban government against Ravsberg and his “Cartas”? The figures speak for themselves:
1- A week ago, internet servers confirmed over 300,000 requests to visit the website per day. “These are a lot of visits. They are using nearly 7 GB of transferrable data in a 24-hour period,” researchers specified.
2- Some articles provoke a hundred comments easily, many of which exceed themselves in critical wit and political questions directed at the authors themselves.
3- Nearly all of the blog’s readers are Cubans, both residents on the island as well as the large diaspora community. If “Generation Y” put Cuba on the online map, “Cartas desde Cuba” has managed to capture the attention of many of Yoani Sanchez’s fellow countrymen, who is also a talented journalist but is hardly read in her own country.
4- People’s commitment to the website is such that after just 4 days of posting the collection (February 12th this year), 912 euros were collected via Crowdfunding, along with an unspecified sum of national pesos, which was deposited in a Havana bank account.
This public collection challenges the unwritten rules of our country’s political power. Citizens have never been called upon in the past (and they have never responded favorably) to save a personal, private media platform, in a field which has been jealously protected by the State/Party’s monopoly in this sector.
The harassment this journalist has had to suffer should come as no surprise, which everyday readers, as well as intellectuals with respected curricula, living in Cuba can testify to:
Singer/songwriter Silvio Rodriguez offered the Uruguayan some pages on his “Segunda Cita” Blog. Aurelio Alonso, philosopher and critic, leader of the alternative CubaSi group, wrote: “I don’t think we can be quiet in the face of this scandal which aims to finish off a long cycle of institutional badgering against Fernando Ravsberg.”
The journalist himself wrote: “Over these past 10 years, they have tried to tame me with kind words of advice, hidden threats, with breaking my teeth, demanding that I be expelled from the country, and “warnings” directed at my children. None of this has worked until now, but removing my foreign media credentials has allowed them to give Cartas a coup de grace.”
Without disregarding the truth, any half-told story will end up becoming apologetic or a diatribe.
Even though Cartas desde Cuba is a media platform which falls outside of the PCC’s regulations, opposition to the government is divided when it comes to Ravsberg’s more or less radical stance as a journalist, including his behavior as a professional in the face of repression around him.
His colleagues join them, who are normally well-known figures and critics of Cuba’s authoritarianism in force, but tolerated at the end of the day, working in Cuba while others can’t because of the political machine.
This is conveyed in the following comment taken from February 13th, from Cartas de Cuba to be exact:
“Mr. Fernando, I am Leonardo Mesa, an Independent Journalist, Lawyer, professional in the media and I suffer all of these restrictions and more on a daily basis. In order to work, I think about the fact that you have been allowed in certain spaces, but my work hasn’t. However, I still get on with it and carry on.”
In fact, the Uruguayan and his blog have kept quiet about the many injustices that reporting on would cross the so-called “red line” drawn by the dictatorship for those who create alternative journalism with a certain “peace of mind” in our country.
They can join other adverse critiques to the harassed foreign correspondent, but all you need is the proven attempt to lynch him legally in order to support the daring effort he is leading today with more or less success.
Readers remain, thousands of hopeful Cubans who embrace what they believe to be a possible cause between fear and frustration that reign today:
“Even though I never comment, they are a rich source of arguments which help me to feel more prepared and strong when it comes to my beloved country’s reality. Ordinary Cubans have vast intelligence and an immense ability to analyze situations in a simple but enriching way.” (A reader, February 12th this year)
Vicente Morin Aguado: [email protected]