Friday, September 19, 2014

The Lessons of Lope de Vega

The Lessons of Lope de Vega / Yoani Sanchez
Posted on September 19, 2014

Yoani Sanchez, Havana, 18 September 2014 – A friend visting Cuba for the
first time asked me why the government can put an end to the illegal
distribution of the so-called "audiovisual packets." "They just have to
detect who makes it and trades in it, to be able to stop it," the young
man speculated. I reminded him of the work Fuenteovejuna, written by
Lope de Vega. In three acts, the noted Spanish playwright tells how a
town rebels against the abuse of power. The villagers unite against the
injustice and together assume responsibility for the death of the local
oppressor. "Who killed the Commander? Fuenteovejuna, señor," we learned
from the theater of the Golden Age and have put into practice, at least
in the compilation and distribution of programs, documentaries and other
digital materials.

My friend listened incredulously to my explanation, so I offered a more
concrete example. Some months ago a traveled to Spain to participate in
a technology event. Before saying goodbye, my family and friends asked
me to bring them various things, as is common in such an undersupplied
country. However, unlike other times when I left with a long list of
shoe and clothing sizes, this time the requests were very different. A
neighbor on the third floor wanted an update of the Avast antivirus and
asked that I download a course in small business accounting. Two cousins
noted the details of a videogame—with all the updates—so I could bring
it back. A niece's husband asked me for PDFs of some magazines about
industrial design and almost all agreed that an off-line copy of
Revolico—the Cuban Craigslist—would be fantastic.

The list of things to bring was very significant to me. I alternated the
soap and deodorant, unavailable in the stores these days, with drivers
for an acquaintance who lost the installation disks. The sweet seller on
the corner asked me for a digital encyclopedia of pastry, and a friend
who is learning to drive needed a simulator for a PC. A photographer
colleague asked me to download some Android apps that wold let
her retouch images and a relative learning English demanded all the
chapters of a Podcast to practice that language.

The two nights I spent in Granada I barely slept two hours, because the
list of what I had to download off the Internet was very long. I took
advantage of the connectivity to also download about fifty TED talks, to
bring some of the fresh wind of entrepreneurs and creative people to the
Island. I renamed some files to be able to find them more easily in the
numerous folders containing the requests and returned to Havana. In less
than 48 hours the orders were delivered, even a Pilates course on video
requested by the owner of a nearby fitness center, and a digital gallery
for a university professor who urgently needed images of Egyptian art.
Everyone was satisfied.

Several weeks passed and one day I got the latest update of the "packet"
that was circulating. To my surprise, the TED talks included in it were
exactly the same files I'd downloaded from the web and later renamed. So
I could confirm that all of us—in one way or another—form a part of and
feed this alternative bulletin board that circulates hand to hand.

Poor Commander, you already know that the packet is "all for one,
señor," like Lope de Vega taught us.

Source: The Lessons of Lope de Vega / Yoani Sanchez | Translating Cuba -

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