Saturday, May 26, 2012

Contemplating Cuba’s ‘Meeting of Bloggers’

Contemplating Cuba's 'Meeting of Bloggers'
May 26, 2012
Janis Hernandez

HAVANA TIMES — Last month, writers for the blog La Joven Cuba (Young
Cuba) organized an event titled "Encuentro de blogueros cubanos en
Revolucion" (Meeting of Cuban Bloggers of the Revolution). According to
the initial statement, their "intent" was to bring together people from
around the country who maintain personal spaces on the Internet.

Convened from the University of Matanzas, it was expected that a
conference would be held consisting of workshops and panel discussions
on topics related to the Cuban blogosphere. Ironically, the slogan of
the announcement read, "Finding ways to complement each other without
imposing a single line or frameworks that the participants must follow."

They created a special Twitter account (@ BlogazoxCuba), a YouTube
channel with the same name and a Facebook event page named "Encuentro de
Blogueros Cubanos en Revolucion."

The organizing committee explained the event saying: "We Cuban bloggers
dreamed of having a national meeting and that it be as inclusive as
possible," though only 50 people could attend.

These individuals were selected according to criteria such as:

- Having a blog that is updated regularly
- Dealing with a diversity of topics
- Having representation from all provinces

However, from the outset they forgot to indicate the level of commitment
(unconditional) to the officialdom that people had to have.

The meeting was attended young university bloggers who, while not
enjoying the media attention of some others, do come up with interesting
writings and do them justice. From CENESEX came Mariela Castro, as well
as religious believers who are members of the Martin Luther King Center
NGO, and others.

At the end of the meeting, in the wake of the wave of criticism they
received, they drafted a string of justifications, starting with the
lack of resources and ending with stale excuses such as "(…) those
complaining are not being sufficiently fair and (…) the blogosphere is a
space for horizontal participation in the Cuban political mission."

Some of the voices of well-known blogs in Cuba, such as Elaine Diaz,
refused to attend because they considered it an "exclusive" gathering.
Elaine asked why there was no representation from the Critical
Observatory or Havana Times, for example, websites considered to be left.

The answer is very simple: The meeting was made up of Cuban bloggers of
the revolution (their revolution). If someone's sense of revolution
didn't align with the canons of their revolution, they weren't
considered a blogger that met the requirements to attend the anemic and
preconceived event. Far from promoting discussion and reflection, this
gathering was more like the Cuban TV news/commentary program La Mesa
Redonda (The Round Table) – where everyone agrees on everything and says
the same things.

I don't think that any Cuban blogger with even a little common sense
would be interested in participating in such "gatherings," where no one
is challenged, but instead fine-tuned.

From the name of the event itself certain suspicions were aroused, as
people were made to mimic Fidel's well-known message to intellectuals:
"Within the revolution, everything; outside the revolution, nothing…"

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