However, I received one e-mail about two weeks ago from an old friend in Cuba, Carlos Alzugaray, a former diplomat, active scholar (see his recent essay, "Continuity and Change in Cuba at 50" here), and a professor of Political Science in Havana, that was quite helpful for me in expanding my still limited knowledge of the blogosfera cubana.
Carlos and I have since kept up a healthy e-mail exchange, not always agreeing, but always open to debating and learning from one another. If we were not separated by those pesky 90 miles, we'd also likely share a bottle of ron anejo as we argue over US-Cuban relations.
Given the recent rise in the temperature of the debate surrounding the Cuban blogosphere and the flood of personal attacks, innuendo, and basic lack of buenos modales or even el respeto por el derecho ajeno from some bloggers, I think Carlos' note is a good example of respectful, fruitful engagement.
With his permission, I'm pasting his initial e-mail here as food for thought and fodder for more critical and respectful debate.
Hi Ted!In honor of Carlos' request, my next post will be entitled, "Let a Thousand Flowers..., uh, Bloggers Bloom." There, I will give a summary of the blogs written desde Cuba and about Cuba that I follow and/or have recently discovered (from a wide and inclusive perspective as I am able). As they say, "Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer." If you know of a good blog written desde Cuba, oficialista, contestataria, burlona, aploitico, or even indiferente, please let me know and I'll include it on my list.
I have been following your blog and I cannot help but notice your infatuation with Yoani. No doubt an intelligent, articulate and attractive figure. I think in many ways she reflects what many young Cubans of her generation think.
Nevertheless, since you are a scientist and I am one too, I must point out that I find your attention on Yoani excessive and supporting a distorted view of Cuban reality. Your blogs give the impression that the Cuban blogosphere begins and ends with Yoani and the group of young people that surround her and follow her, an idea that Yoani and her husband, Reinaldo Escobar, tend to promote.
But the reality is much more rich and diverse than that. Take a look, for example, to Elaine Diaz, a 24-year-old young Professor at the Faculty of Communications at the University of Havana. She wrote an essay entitled "Blogs and Journalism in Cuba: Between 'What Is' and 'What Ought To Be'," published by the refereed journal Revista Latina de Comunicación Social. You can check it out there.
Elaine has herself a blog called La Polémica Digital. I think that out of respect for scientific objectivity, your blog should suggest to your readers that they take a look at what other young people in Cuba say and do.
By the way, this does not mean that I condone any violent attack on Yoani or that I accept the decision not to let her travel where she has been invited. But the question is not individual travelling. My position on this issue is that all travel restrictions should be eliminated in Cuba.
It is paradoxical that the demonstration that Yoani said she was planning to attend was organized by young people who support socialism for Cuba. And as a result of the incident, for which we only have the version given by Yoani and her friends, the real news was that a group of young Cubans who critically support socialism organized and spontaneous demonstration against violence.
Since we have a long-standing friendship I felt I could not remain silent about your blog's focus on Yoani which in my view, even though it presents part of the reality, is not ALL the reality.
P.D.: Because of our friendship I have not made this comment publicly on your blog. But I would not have any problem if you feel that it can be pasted there.
*PD: For those return visitors to El Yuma, I am proud to report that we are about to reach the milestone of 1,000 site visits (we're at 967 as of today), with 1,523 page views. So, if we subtract the dozen times a day I check my own blog (what can I say except, "My name is Ted and I'm a blogoholic"), we're still doing pretty good! In fact, better, since I didn't figure out how to set up Google Analytics until after my first month of blogging was practically over.
As expected, the U.S. of A. leads with 640 visits. Canada is second with 90. (Thanx Arch!) Surprisingly for me, the UK is third with 34 visits - but hey they did invent the English language and all! Finally, Spain and Cuba are tied in a tight competition with 34 visits each! But I know the Cubans hate to come in second in any competition! I was happy to see that Latin America is well represented, Mexico leading with 23 visits, and Asia is in da house too with three visits from Taiwan, and one each from India and The Phillipines. Unfortunately, my brothers on the African continent have yet to join us.
Lastly, I'd be remiss if I did not give a call out to Phil Peters over at The Cuban Triangle, who has kindly mentioned and linked to my blog a few times, as has Ernesto Hernandez Busto over at Penultimos Dias. I've even gotten some traffic from DesdeCuba.com, the portal that hosts Yoani and Reinaldo's blogs, among others - muchas gracias a todos!