Thursday, April 29, 2010

La campaña de difamación ya viene: ¡Prepárate!

In November of 2009 we saw the beginnings of a broad, intense, vicious, and, we now realize, sustained campiagn of defamation against Yoani Sanchez and other independent Cuban bloggers.

It seems that this campaign has only just begun.

A few weeks ago, Silam Lamrani, a French critic of Sanchez and great admirer of the revolution, published this interview with her in Rebelion (which has subsequently been reproduced at CubaDebate). However, Sanchez was quick to inform her readers that the interview was doctored before being published.

No surprise there given what Lamrani had previously written about Sanchez (see here for my own critique of his previous unsubstantiated accusations against her). What is surprising and impressive is her own willingness to grant him an interview with an open mind in an effort to dialogue with a known critic in good faith.

Thankfully, Octavo Cerco has just published an extensive new interview with both Sanchez and her husband and fellow blogger Reinaldo Escobar. Conducted by Cuban journalist Ernesto Morales, the interview focuses especially on the defamation campaign now underway, how they plan to respond to it, and how far they anticipate it will go. (So far the interview is only available in Spanish, but I'm sure that the intrepid folks over at the collaborative translation project HemosOido/Translating Cuba will have the English version up soon.)

Here's a translation of the opening section to give you a taste of what's in store:

The owner of the only radio station is a small town decides, one day, to launch a campaign against his neighbor. We don’t know what motivates his enmity, but it’s not important. What does matter is that this man holds significant power, and that his enemy is an ordinary man.

As a part of his plan, he decides to corrupt the image of his neighbor. He thinks: I will say that he is pervert. That he is a pedophile. From now on, he will use the programs with the largest audience to accuse his detested neighbor of sexually corrupting the children of the community. He will find friends and supporters (which every man has, particularly powerful men), and put them in front of the microphone: “Yes, that man is a pervert, he is a villain.”

Every day. Without rest. The owner of the station will enjoy thinking up new arguments to sustain the accusation about his neighbor’s perversions. He will not be able to respond publically to the lies, he has no way to do so. Even worse, he will have no way to prove he is NOT a pedophile, that he has never committed such a grotesque crime.

Few things are as difficult to prove as innocence.

You listen to the radio from time to time, and you know what they say about that man, who is also your neighbor. Truly, it’s not that important to you. When you run into him on the street he greets you kindly and has always seemed like a decent man.

But, if one afternoon your small son stays playing at the nearby park longer than usual, you run to look for him with a strange nervousness. A nervousness that would not have existed, certainly, if you hadn’t noticed that the neighbor, the one they were always talking about on the radio, was reading the newspaper on one of the benches in that same park. (Go here to keep reading in Spanish).

It also seems that Cuban national television, which until now had remained silent about the blogger, has begun its own defamation campaign.

And I just heard from a friend that the FEU (University Student Federation) has begun its own campaign of defamation against Sanchez among students at the University of Havana.

Finally, I have it on good authority that we can expect the campaign to fly into even higher gear come early May for reasons that I will expalin later.


While I will be using my own blog to counter these campaigns, I wonder whether they may actually backfire on their own since most Cubans I know on the island (especially university students) deeply mistrust the information they get from the government and the party especially when it comes in the form of these bombastic, demagogic, red-meat campaigns.

"You doth protest too much," quoth the bard.

All who know Cuba understand well that the "revolution" will defend itself against criticism, especially the sharp, eloquent, fearless, criticism by an insider spoken in a language that everyday Cubans can understand and relate to.

As they say: "En una plaza sitiada la disidencia es traición."

But we also know that Frederick Douglass had it right when he said:

"Power concedes nothing without a demand;
it never has and it never will."

Martin Luther King, Jr., echoed this exact sentiment in his Letter from a Birmingham City Jail, writing,

"We know through painful experience
that freedom is never voluntarily given
by the oppressor;
it must be demanded by the oppressed."

Can I get an amen!

1 comment:

  1. ¡Prepárate, Vladia's watching you!