Sunday, December 6, 2009

Let a Thousand Flowers..., uh, Bloggers Bloom!: Of Blogrolls and BestBlogs (Part 1)

I was just in the process of updating my blogroll, that list at the right-hand side of the blog where I link to other blogs of Cuba interest. Mine's called "BestBlogs."

I guess you could say I "recommend" them, since I do call the list "BestBlogs." However, the usual disclaimer applies - recommendation does not imply agreement.

For example, the logo, "Free @ Internet," pasted to the upper left here is used on many blogs connected to the dual projects, Itinerario/Academia Blogger and Voces Cubanas, a weekly blogger workshop and blog portal, respectively, for independent Cuban bloggers usually run out of the home of Yoani Sanchez and Reinaldo Escobar. There are 16 blogs currently collectively housed at the "Voces Cubanas" portal, while the number of such independent blogs in Cuba could easily be double or tripple that.

The logo on the right, on the other hand, is from the main portal of another group of young bloggers, lanuched informally by a group of 15 students and professors at the University of Havana, calling themselves simply, "Bloggers Cuba." Notice that they both use the Cuban flag - but in very different ways. Both groups have also been organized for about a year and meet up regularly to share blogging strategies and encourage one another. Of course, there is also much that separates them.

Keep reading this new five-part series, "Let a Thousand Flowers..., uh, Bloggers Bloom!", as I will have much more to say about these and various other blogger movements and internet news sources rapidly flourishing (despite and sometimes because of government repression and/or support) in today's Cuba.

So, I "recommend" that you check out both of these portals, while I do not uncritically "endorse" all the content of either. In fact, my list of "BestBlogs," like my list of best friends, I only agree with about 50% of the time. What's the point of talking, debating, reading, exchanging ideas, and dialogando (that word with such a tragic Cuban/Cuban-American history - e.g., dalogueros, Cuban-Americans who dared exchange ideas with the Cuban government back in the 1970s and 1980s and were met with terrorist violence because of it in Miami), if we are already in agreement.

I do, however, make recommendations with an eye to the importance of a source's serious contribution to the Cuba debate or if it is sharing of a perspective that is not likely to get much play in the monopolistic corporate media in the U.S. and even less so in the state/party controlled media in Cuba.

Remember these wise words from journalist A. J. Liebling:
"Freedom of the press is guaranteed...
only to those who own one."

This is part of the reason that the internet in genereal and blogs inparticular are so potentially "revolutionary" (to use a pregnant word) in societies where the state, the party, or a few large media conglomerates own or control the MSM - mainstream media.

With that said, I recently added a group of new blogs to my blogoll, including: Desde Aqui (Reinaldo Escobar's blog from Cuba), La Polemica Digital (the blog by University of Havana journalism professor Elaine Diaz that Carlos Alzugaray recommended in my previous post, Los Consejos de Carlos), Babalu Blog (a proudly "intransigent," right-wing blog on Cuba from Miami - Sanchez has called Babalu "el abuelo de los blogs sobre Cuba"), and Mambi Watch (a kind of moderate antidote to the positions expoused in Babalu, thus the name which implies keeping an eye on and calling out Miami's "recalcitrantes" - Mambi is the collective term for the Cuban foot soldiers who fought against Spain for Cuba's independence from 1895-1898).

I have also added Boring Home Utopics and Lunes de Post-Revolucion (a pair of blogs maintained from Cuba by the writer, photographer, and provacateur Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo), Cambio de Epoca (Juan Antonio Blanco's blog hosted on the site in Spain), Los Hijos que Nadie Quiso (Angel Santiesteban's literary blog written from Cuba and also hosted on the site), Herejias y Caipirinhas 2.0 (Miami-based journalist Rui Ferreira's blog), Cuaderno de Cuba (Nuevo Herald columnist Alejandro Armengol's blog), Cuban Colada (a blog on Cuba maintained by a team of Miami Herald reporters), Cartas desde Cuba (a blog from BBC's foreign correspondent in Cuba, Fernando Ravsberg - photo to the right).

I am also in the process of putting up links to the blogs and opinion pages of the on-line news sites, CubaEncuentro (blogs & opinions) and the recently launched Dario de Cuba (blogs & opinions) (more on this below).

These new additions expand on my initial blogroll, which included Generacion Y (Yoani Sanchez), Octavo Cerco (Claudia Caudelo), Sin EVAsion (Eva Gonzalez, aka, Miriam Celaya), The Cuban Triangle (Phil Peters), Penultimos Dias (Ernesto Hernandez Busto), and Along the Malecon (Tracey Eaton).

Stay tuned for Part Two, "Los Hijos de Yoani" (not Prisa), in this 5 part series, "Let a Thousand Flowers..., uh, Bloggers Bloom!"


  1. The young professors who created Bloggers Cuba are from Instituto Superior Tecnológico José Antonio Echevarría or ISPJAE, better known in Cuba as "la CUJAE" because it is hosted at the Ciudad Universitaria José Antonio Echevarría in the outskirsts of Havana.

  2. Carlos, thanx for the info and correction.

    What else can you tell me/us about the group? Are they all professors, or are there students involved too?

    The "independence" of other young bloggers has been questioned in the Cuban media - esp. that of Sanchez and the group connected to and Voces Cubanas. How autonomous/independent do you think Bloggers Cuba is - and that's not a rhetorical question - I do not automatically assume that they are props or mouthpieces for the government line, but knowing how the Cuban government takes information and media and propaganda VERY seriously, I'm skeptical, just as many in the CUban government and who support the revolution around the world are also skeptical of Yoani - especially given the U.S. long-standing policy of "regime change."

    It is indeed valid to ask these questions of Yoani and her clan, as well as questions about financing, technical support, etc. So what do you think about Bloggers Cuba in this regard?

    I can see from my so far cursory review of the site that they are significantly different (younger with a different perspective) from other "oficialista" sites and blogs like Lagarde or Norelys Morales Aguilera or Rosa Baez or cubadebate or or, but I'm curious about their real level of independence.

    Is their "NG Bloggers" (that's Nueva Generacion) image and rhetoric a reflection of a real openness to respectful debate and dialogue (el respeto por el derecho ajeno es la paz - especially of those who disagree with them), or is it more window dressing, a facade hiding a will to power and a desire to silence one's opponents - kind of like track II of Helms-Burton?

    Of course, I will be reading their individual blogs and can make my own assessments but any ideas?

    I also invite any members of Bloggers Cuba to respond to my querries.

    Y se puede escribir en espanol si prefiere...

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