Vicente Morin Aguado
HAVANA TIMES — On December 30 last year, Cuban authorities prevented the staging of a performance by Tania Bruguera at Havana’s Plaza de la Revolucion, located in front of the nation’s government headquarters.
Previously, during the 7th Havana Arts Biennale in 2009, dissident blogger Yoani Sanchez had taken the limelight at another of Tania’s performances, making headlines in many newspapers around the world.
The unexpected appearance of Sanchez (wearing a wig and all) at one of the debates organized by the Cuban journal Temas on October 30, 2009, revealed the blogger’s now proven theatrical skills, capable of successfully provoking and mocking the Ministry of the Interior agents tasked with monitoring her activities.
These two Cuban women – Sanchez and Bruguera – individually and directly attack the intolerance that reigns in Cuba. Their way of questioning this reality varies. There are indeed more than enough reasons to make such criticisms and, without a doubt, the performances they stage defy authoritarianism and promote freedom of expression in Cuba.
When she was the US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton expressed regarding the most renowned Cuban blogger:
“She has used technology to promote positive change. She has created an interactive space for the exchange of ideas and free expression. She has given voice to the concerns and aspirations of her fellow citizens. And, as governments are learning around the world, you cannot stop the internet.”
I included all of her praise for ethical reasons, even though I do not believe Sanchez expressed “the concerns and aspirations of her fellow citizens” – that is something of a sweeping statement.
The essential point is that both women are taking advantage of the possibilities afforded by technology within the mass media. It is easy to take on an opponent who is protesting with a sign in the middle of the street. It is nearly impossible to oppose art and the infinite mechanisms offered by the Internet.
I am always on the alert against the dangers of the “mass media,” precisely because they tend to simplify information and appeal to sentiments that constitute a primary means to knowledge. I believe it is crucial to read, study and explore the world, approach the truth only after a significant effort at understanding.
When it comes to my country, the issue is that media spectacles such as the performance planned by Tania Bruguera or the theatrical gestures of Yoani Sanchez have become intelligent ways of fighting authoritarianism, even if they aren’t more than isolated incidents whose main impact is felt abroad.
Paraphrasing the lyrics of a song by a renowned Cuban folk musician, “They have the floor, I keep silent out of respect.” I personally choose to keep my critical observations to myself at this point, because the future of Cuba needs proposals and consensuses that go much further than media spectacles.
Vicente Morín Aguado: firstname.lastname@example.org