Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The Conspiracy Exposed: Who is Behind Estado de Sats?

The Conspiracy Exposed: Who is Behind Estado de Sats? (corrected) /
Estado de Sats, Alexis Jardines
Alexis Jardines, Estado de Sats / State of Sats, Translator: Unstated

Corrected Text: Unfortunately the first paragraph got left off this
article when it was posted earlier today.
Alexis Jardines

While it is considered a construction of State Security by some extreme
anti-Castro types, and a creature of the CIA by the Cuban government's
cyber-Talibans, the independent Estado de Sats project successfully
works for the promotion of civil society and the transition to democracy.

Presumably the reasons that motivate both diametrically opposed
interpretations of the Estado de Sats project have a common origin, not
at all related to the "syndrome of suspicion." I would be inclined to
think they are of a narcissistic type. It takes only an average IQ to
understand, in seconds, that if it really were an organization linked to
espionage and subversion this would not be discovered by the delusional
tantrums of an exiled writer in Paris, nor the abandoned neurons of a
gray political commissar turned blogger-to-order.

On the other hand, if Estado de Sats were just a few guys with an
exclusively digital presence –an argument, oddly, shared by the two
extremes of the ideological spectrum: Zoé Valdés and Iroel Sánchez –
what are they afraid of? Incidentally, the readers can look at the
latest public activity of the project, and the Crocodile Smile show, to
check for themselves whether the hundred people present have only a

Heglian logic – and popular wisdom – teaches that the extremes touch,
but also that in none of them is the truth usually found. It would be a
shame at this point to resort to such trite and childish arguments,
which demoralize those who brandish them, not those they're directed
against. The new game is rather predictable: the revolutionary bloggers
are tasked to create opinion statements – false – to justify the
intervention of the political police and the subsequent dismantling of
the project.

In what head is there room for the ridiculous hypothesis that Estado de
Sats is working for an American military intervention in Cuba? I read
these things and I can't stop thinking about the terrifying fear that
dominates those who write or speak them. They aren't even reliable when
they try to summarize the facts: "The space Estado de Sats… on March 1st
hosted the speech of the deputy head of the United States Interest
Section in Cuba." The part about "the speech" is pure manipulation – it
was a panel where the whole world (public included) expressed their
opinions. With this information Commissar Iroel moved the meeting
forward two days (!) (surely because the loyal copyist confused the date
of the meeting with the preparatory-orientation meeting in Villa Marista).

With his latest attack on April 7 – on the official government website – this gray functionary made it clear what kind of person
he is. Today the world knows of the so-called "Vote of Silence"
operation, associated with the visit of Pope Benedict XVI, through which
hundreds of opponents, dissidents, activists, sympathizers and even
"potentially dangerous" individuals were kidnapped and incarcerated by
State Security. Here is the version of the Commissar: "Trying to justify
to their employers their failure to damage the papal visit, some of
those present at the meeting of that Saturday [he is referring to the
March 3rd event] alleged in front of Monserrate their supposed detention
of a few hours."

Both his deliberate and awkward lies as well as his delusions about
military invasions are based on unfounded and irrational inferences that
go too far. It's like wanting to kill a fly with a missile: pure panic.
Komrade Sanchez already tossed overboard his most deadly argument, and
so he lost the game. What happens now if, thanks to Estado de Sats, the
bombs start falling on Cuba? The official blogosphere is running out of

All the rubbish he posts against those who commit the "crime" of
thinking and acting freely is reduced to two accusations (positioning
himself, as usual, as the prosecutor of others): CIA agents or
mercenaries (which, for that matter, are the same thing). The lack of
imagination and the limited arguments of the Revolutionaries is
something even Raul Castro himself has been forced to acknowledge. It is
painful to see how they deliberately try to confuse readers, how they
try to pass off open-door meetings as conspiratorial acts, meetings
which after being filmed on video are posted on YouTube.

As Ailer Gonzalez already made clear, the plot theory doesn't work with
Estado de Sats, which abides by the right to dialog with whomever it
believes necessary, for which it neither asks nor needs permission from
State Security. What the Cuban government jealously hides is the
accelerated and irreversible loss of support among the people. The
trained bloggers, maintained and equipped by the (only) Party can hardly
help that. They don't get readers either inside – for obvious reasons –
nor outside of Cuba. There is nothing that makes sense left for them to
say, nothing they have to defend. Lying and fabricating suspicions is
their only recourse, which they engage in to the point of insanity,
while hiding this nauseating amalgam – with no ability to change – that
just spins and spins viscously and viciously around itself and that some
continue to call "Revolution."

The strategy to discredit opponents through slander and accusations of
being enemy agents bore fruit all these years. Estado de Sats, supported
by an open-minded and unprejudiced mentality, flatly rejects this appeal
to intimidations and proposes to change the rules of the game.

Before addressing the favorite and almost exclusive argument of the
Castro regime's ideological battery, I am going to offer a little
history, so the reader will know what exactly Estado de Sats is.

One day in 2010 Antonio G. Rodiles came to my house, presented himself
and put forward an idea that, in addition to being utopian, fascinated
me: a scientific-cultural event produced by ourselves, an idea that
already had a name. As everyone does, the first thing I asked was the
significance of that phrase, as cryptic as it was seductive. There is no
deceitfulness in this as it is intended to show the sick mentality of
the "cyberwar." What the term means – related to the moment when the
actor is about to go on stage – has been explained more than once. Nor
was it cooked up at the University of Florida, another of the inventions
of the official bloggers. The name was a happy suggestion of Esther
Cardoso to Evelyn Quesada, Antonio G. Rodiles and Jorge Calaforra (ex
co-director and co-founder of what at that time was just an outline).

The Gaia House event in Old Havana, already under the surveillance of
State Security, was a complete success and, at the same time,
constituted the founding act of an independent Project. I had the
distinct feeling of having participated in something unprecedented and,
when it was all over I went up to Antonio and said, "Well, it's over. My
part is done here." To this he answered, "Listen, it starts now. Next
year we'll do another and so we won't be inactive all that time, we can
plan smaller meetings every 21 days."

We were all happy with the encouraging results we'd gotten, but what for
me was the closing ceremony of a unique scientific-cultural event, for
Antonio G. Rodiles and Jorge Calaforra was something else: Estado de
Sats had been born. These two people, whose courage, humanity and
intelligence are beyond all doubt, had not only coordinated that complex
and monumental program with the group OMNI Zona Franca and their
production team – which is now also the team of Estado de Sats – but
covered all their expenses with money from their own pockets. At least I
have no knowledge that anyone else is providing financial support.

That's why they accuse the project of receiving funding from foreign
powers, following the worn out script of the political police, they need
to receive a definitive lesson: considering that we aren't conspiring,
but rather exercising our legitimate right in an open and transparent
way, and knowing that these trite accusations are nothing more than
tools of manipulation, demonization and destruction of whatever falls
"outside the Revolution," we invite all independent projects and
opposition groups, to manage openly, before the eyes of the world,
economic support and invitations to travel from as many academic or
cultural institutions, foundations, NGOs, as they can contact. What's
more, we maintain that each one of these non-institutional
non-governmental spaces should have a representative or manager of
promotion and fund raising.

It's simple. "Whoever doesn't want soup, give them three cups," or if
you prefer the original of the ancient wisdom: "Like cures like."

Historically, the regime has threatened, stigmatized and humiliated
dissent with these sordid allegations. The Cuban people, ordinary
Cubans, should know that this is the way State institutions function:
with money and budgets, through exchanges with the exterior and
collaborations, donations, etc. It turns out that if the State receives
help is it all about the "solidarity of friendly countries, governments
or institutions," but if a group of people receives help, however small
it might be, that doesn't respond to the interests of the government and
operates outside institutions, the donation is turned into an issue of
national security in the manner of "financing by a foreign power."

Note that this perverse approach admits the possibility of non-foreign
nations (Venezuela?). Such nonsense arises because it is not a logical
argument, but a biased construction aimed at sowing a sort of phobia of
the United States in the minds of the people. Nobody remembers any more
that, indeed, a foreign power like the USSR financed the Cuban
government for 30 uninterrupted years.

With Estado de Sats the stigma is over. We call on all Cubans to engage
in, as a legitimate right, their own independent project of thinking,
activism and free creation, seeking help from the entire civilized world
and from Cuban exiles themselves, who should not be allies of the
government but rather of those who fight within the Island by holding
their heads high. There is no reason for Cubans to be ashamed – nor to
ask permission – when it comes to freedom and Human Rights. As long as
the money doesn't belong to spy agencies or narco-traffickers, it
doesn't matter where it comes from as long as the path is legal and the
destination honorable. Cubans must know that there are other more worthy
ways to act – and also to effect change – than hustling and betrayal,
the only things on offer from the Cuban government today.

Given that institutions overwhelm the individual and that, in
particular, those of an academic and cultural bent exclude young recent
graduates, besides being a source of corruption and the primary
immediate obstacle for the development of civil society in Cuba, Estado
de Sats aspires to be an alternative space, where all the excluded who
want to express themselves converge.

The case of Abel Prieto, the former Minister of Culture, supports two
equally plausible interpretations. He could have been promoted, as his
new post is closer to president Raul Castro; but he could have been
dismissed; a minister amasses resources, but an advisor only advice. The
bureaucracy concentrates power (money). When you head up a State
institution, you manage a part of the State's budget, which also means
that those individuals with a certain share of power will make every
effort to manage the lion's share not to the detriment of the ruling
class but of those who depend on the way they themselves redistribute
this money in the institutions (including the ministries, of course).

Very simply, this is where corruption is generated. And not only because
the bureaucracy blocks those resources from reaching their objective and
the money from making it into the pockets of those below, but because
the elite itself tolerates the bureaucracy because they know that not
all the money that should filter down does so. In short, I steal because
you steal and you let me steal to be able to steal as well.

In the dynamics of corruption the injured party, as always, is the
worker, the simple individual whom ideology has turned into a zombie –
or, what amounts to the same thing, a "Revolutionary" – whose purpose is
to justify and defend the status quo, that is, his own oppression.
Corruption comes to the Cuban government by two paths: cultural and
political. I don't believe there is a single Latin American country
where corruption can be considered a second-order phenomenon. Likewise,
all the Eastern European socialist countries generated a pattern of
corruption similar to Cuba's.

In Cuba, both cultural and academic institutions are in a process of
deterioration and not only materially. The level of students and
teachers is plummeting, and of particular concern is the degradation in
higher education with the colonization it's been subjected to by the
hordes from the "Enrique José Varona" Higher Pedagogical Institute.
These types of schools of education – modeled on the Soviet system –
never were, properly speaking, universities. In the former USSR the
difference was very clear.

Strictly speaking, a graduate in Education, with a B.A. degree in that
subject, is not prepared either for research or for teaching at a higher
level, but only for teaching at secondary level (senior and junior high
schools). By a decree designed only to give more power to Miguel
Díaz-Canel – one of Raúl Castro's protégés who has risen meteorically to
the highest positions – they converted the "Centers" into "Institutes"
and the institutes, in turn, into "Universities." The old – and not so
old – professors of the Havana Pedagogical Institute, with their
inherent mediocrity that prioritizes the political-ideological over
academics, dominate higher education in Cuba (both with regards to
management and to teaching) and spread like a plague over the research

From the beginning, at my suggestion, Estado de Sats conceived the
possibility of developing at least a multidisciplinary group that could
undertake science beyond the reach of the (only) party and without any
ideological compromise. I'd talked beforehand with Antonio and it was
recorded in the final paragraph of my presentation at Estado de Sats in
Casa Gaia:

Recommendations: Due to the special situation that exists in the
county, take steps through the creation of sui generis Think Tanks
structured not as institutions but as small NGOs of advanced studies, to
fill the vacuum in thinking through the production (and publication on
the Web) of original ideas and policies, initially educational, which
can form the basis for the recovery of Cuban universities and their
competitive spirit.

It is, undoubtedly, an ambitious plan with innumerable difficulties
facing its development. For now, it remains dormant within the
well-known analysis space, FORA.

The famous Plato discovered the reality of some entities that have two
notable characteristics: being general and immaterial. If the
philosopher was asked about sensitive things (at the level of the
individual) he responded: they only exist by virtue of participating in
the general abstract idea. So, we recognize a flower to the extent that
it incarnates the general idea of "flower" and the first will be more
beautiful and perfect the more it approaches the second, that is, its
eidos or archetype.

So far so good, but the problem starts when we try to transfer this
reasoning to the human being. Man does not fit, nor can he ever dissolve
himself ―according the Castro's totalitarian experiments― in the
Revolution; only a Revolutionary fits within it. Therefore, the
reduction of the total diversity of the real human being into only one
of his accidents, is an anthropological injury (mutilating and
lacerating). The same can be extended to the notions of Homeland and
Nation. Many Cubans on the Island – including the critical left – are
still living their lives dominated by these abstract ideas.

Until last year (2011) I lived in Cuba. Those who know me know that I
did so as if I was a "citizen of the world"; and so I also wrote my
texts, not from Havana, but situating myself mentally in the Swiss Alps.
And although I paid some price for it, obviously, I never censored
myself and I wandered through the city – and through the University
itself – as a free soul. I think Emilio Ichikawa has already emphasized
this feature of my personality: I learned to live freely in the most
stifling oppression. The immediate impression I had on meeting Antonio
G. Rodiles was of a person exactly like what I just described. We agreed
on a rarely shared point, and on that basis, I enrolled in the project.

Estado de Sats is situated beyond everything that can be considered a
limit to the full development of human individuality (personality):
beyond the flags, the causes, the crowds, the revolutions, the patriotic
and doctrinaire ideas. All these abstractions embraced, in one form or
another, by the Communists, Fascists, Marxists and patriots of every
stripe, we trade for the uniqueness of one life.

We understand that the nation is made for man, and not man for the
nation. Consequently, we are not interested in "the ground our feet
tread upon" – as José Martí said – nor in hatred, resentment, nor in
some concept of "Humanity," but in the comfort of those footsteps on the
wiry grass (with a lower-case g or capital G) which illuminates and
kills. Individuals will exist, even if Cuba no longer exists as a nation
– that is whether or not they are "Cubans" – and what demands our
attention is not the word that defines a place of origin, but the human
condition to be free, or to not be at all.

In fact, one of the present barriers to freedom is nationalism, a
preferred tool of domination that has spawned the modern dictator. Of
course we are profoundly moved by patriotic matters, but we acknowledge
that they are ancestral impulses. In another perspective, "my country is
where my children eat," according to the succinct definition of a mother
(singer-songwriter Joan Manuel Serrat) which demolishes half the edifice
of modern political science.

The individual cannot be free under the paradigm of sovereignty, which
relates solely to nations. A sovereign individual can only be the king,
but the king is not strictly an individual, he is a monarch. Nor is a
sovereign people a guarantee of individual freedom; freedom is
individual or it does not exist. Hence our renunciation of nationalism.
Just as they once emerged, nation-states are now beginning to blur
within the new reorganization of the world order.

Poor are those who construct their thinking within nationalist
strategies, which today is like returning to feudalism. Particularly
with regards to the theme of reconciliation among Cubans, Estado de Sats
evades the polarization of nationalism/anti-nationalism and places its
bets on the post-national. Cubans must end the primitive worship of
symbols if we don't want to continue living in the past. At the end of
the day, it only adds fuel to the Castro regime's fire where they forge
the darts of "plattismo" – that is, calling forth the boogeyman of the
Platt Amendment – annexationism, and other ridiculous memories dedicated
to the destruction of the other.

Anyone advocating the post-national cannot be an annexationist, it would
be a contradiction in terms. Rather the question is: by what right can a
government that excludes its own nationals (inside and outside the
country) from economic and political affairs, while it opens its doors –
with the logic of a hooker – to foreign investment, accuse anyone of
"plattismo"? What kind of nationalism is it that, on behalf of the
foreigner, has deprived Cubans of their most elemental rights to the
point of destroying their self-esteem?

The new concept of resistance

The reality is quite different from the cynical and crazy idea about the
supposed CIA funding put forward by pro-government bloggers. The Estado
de Sats project is faced with a difficult economic situation, but it
does not stop. With all its limitations, Estado de Sats has managed a
scope and internal visibility never before recorded in the dissent. We
are connected in Cuba with intellectuals, artists, academics, activists,
dissidents, independent and alternative projects, bloggers, etc. Today
we can say that SATS is the window of Cuban civil society.

A hundred people regularly attend its meetings and then disseminate the
videos copied onto CDs and flash drives throughout the country. Its
outreach is channeled through blogs, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, TV
Marti and Radio Marti, as well as in digital versions of well-known
European and American newspapers. Our work's media edge has been taken
advantage of by some of the "enlightened" on the outside who have
assigned themselves the task of teaching, through their computer
keyboards, how to fight against the Cuban regime.

The fundamental mistake shared by not a few authors of these "rightist"
and extremist posts who seek to guide the internal dissidence from
exile, is that they have an outdated image of the dynamic opposition and
lack direct ties with the resistance on the Island, the only ones
capable of lending some credibility to what they write. In the best
case, such gaps are supplemented with unnecessary rhetoric, loaded with
false profundity, long and drawn out citations, displays of historic
erudition and conceptual diversions that can only make us laugh; in the
worst case they are filled with authentic videogame proposals which must
be executed by real actors to overthrow the current government. For the
real dissidents, on the other hand, it is becoming clear that situated
at the point of confluence of art, thinking, and ordinary Cubans, Estado
de Sats has opened a true breach in the armor plating that separates the
people from the active opposition.

Who, ultimately, is behind Estado de Sats?

Only our dear friends Transparency and Freedom, whom the Cuban
repressors are determined to ignore. So, our next guest could be the
chief of State Security, or the U.S. Senator Marco Rubio. The whole
world will be a witness should the first decline the invitation and the
government refuse a visa to the second. This is why, to my way of
thinking, they repress us but they tolerate us. So our detractors will
have to pull together the intelligence to understand, at least: 1) on
the other side of the video screen there is real opposition activity in
a physical space; 2) if they continue to tie us to State Security the
only reason is because the truth doesn't interest them, nor are those
from the ruling party interested in finding out our relationship to the CIA.

The doors of Estado de Sats are open; visit us, this will be the best
way to come to know us.

Originally published in

29 May 2012

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