Wednesday, December 23, 2009

From the Cuban Blogosphere - Erasmo Calzadilla: Insufficient Arguments... (Part II)

Erasmo Calzadilla's latest post, "Insufficient Arguments against Yoani," at The Havana Times is not so much a defense of Sanchez herself, as it is a criticism of the attack article, "Yoani, la hija de PRISA," written against her by Enrique Ubieta that appeared recently in the pages of Granma Intarnacional (both on-line and in the Spanish language print version) on November 27.

While I have criticized that article myself at length (here, here, and here), unlike Calzadilla I am not Cuban, do not live in Cuba, and thus am not subject to its leaders or laws. So, in Part II of this post on Calzadilla and the burgeoning Cuban blogosphere, let me share my analysis of his words and ideas.

Calzadilla begins by reminding his readers that Sanchez's blog Generacion Y is blocked in Cuba. Still, he has been able to read many of her writings (he does not say how) and finds Ubieta's claims against her unconvincing and unfounded by any evidence so far presented. Indeed, in his reading of Generacion Y, Calzadilla does not find anything "that threatens the civil norms of coexistence in a society of democratic rights and responsibilities, as Cuba is said to be."

He even finds that despite her negative and hopeless view of socialism, her criticisms of the government are refreshingly "respectful." Taking the government at its word, Calzadilla comments rhetorically, "Isn’t it her human right to struggle for a society that she views as being more desirable for the country in which she lives, as long as she does this through peaceful and civil methods?" I can see why this guy lost his job!

Retracing the history of Generacion Y, Calzadilla points out that Ubieta's criticisms of Sanchez were not the ones first published in Cuba. In fact, he reminds us that Fidel Castro himself began the criticisms with his own equally "accusatory" and "disparaging" remarks about her (published in the preface to a book about Bolivia), which, without mentioning her by name, lamented the "fact" that she and others like her were "special envoys of capitalism, who carry out undermining work, and of the neocolonial media of the old Spanish metropolis, which rewards them."

Calzadilla wonders why Ubieta's attack article "appeared only in the international version of Granma and not in the pages of the Granma daily, which is printed for the Cuban public - the immense majority of whom do not have access to the Internet." He suggests that this "double edition" is a way for Granma to present one kind of journalism online to a world-wide audience (giving the impression of openness), while giving a different spin on news meant for internal consumption.

Still, regardless of where it was printed, lumping Sanchez into the same group as "mercenaries, terrorists, counterrevolutionaries, murders, traitors or any other degrading ilk" is in Cuba "an accusation of extreme seriousness" - one that needs to be (and usually is) founded on solid evidence, according to Calzadilla.

So what's Ubieta's evidence?

Clazadilla claims that there is none.

Lacking any "proof" of her "crimes," Ubieta merely uses his assertions themselves as proof. He also uses the fact of her many awards as "evidence" of her being "constructed, promoted, sustained, and controlled" by a vague foreign conspiracy. Ubieta even uses "they say" as proof of Sanchez's nefarious links with Carlos Alberto Montaner and the CIA (as in "They say she met with Montaner in Spain...").

Finally, Calzadilla argues that Ubieta's trumped up claims against Sanchez and her "crimes" reveal only that her real crime is to think differently from ("to dissent" from) the government line, and to do so publicly, eloquently, and unapologetically.
"'She is a dissident in the literal sense in that she differs from official positions.' (This statement is so vague that it doesn’t explain anything, unless Ubieta believes it’s wrong for people to differ from official positions).

"'Yoani not only speaks about politics, she engages in politics.' (Is it a crime to engage in politics? Is there no difference between recounting the misfortunes of daily life and engaging in politics?)

"She is a 'counter-revolutionary activist' (For saying what she thinks and becoming famous for that? For openly speaking about the humiliations she experiences?)

"All of the above-mentioned is blended with adjectives that don’t relate to the argument (like where Ubieta says Yoani possesses 'an irate thinness' and that she seems 'like an orphan who challenges her adopted parents.') These are expressions that contribute to negatively slanting the image of the blogger to a very misinformed public."
Calzadilla ends his piece by admitting that he too has been surprised by Sanchez's rapid rise to fame and decoration with numerous awards. Part of her impact is surely due to this publicity, he assures us. However, in his view, she's much more than that. "She has the merit of having shown to the world -with a great deal of success and value- the common life of Cubans," he argues, "especially the common lives of the 30-something generation, who are disappointed but still combative."

Disappointed but combative? That's an interesting combination of words - open to interpretation. I wonder how Calzadilla means it...

She may exaggerate reality a bit sometimes, he grants, but never more so than does Granma itself.

Go back to Part I of this post, "From the Cuban Blogosphere."

1 comment:

  1. quisiera saber de que parte de Cuba eres, pues soy cubana recidida en estados Unidos y llebo tu mismo apellido