The Other Interview

I don’t enjoy going through life defending myself against attacks, perhaps because I have spent most of it in the crossfire of criticism. I’ve learned that at times it is better to digest the insult and move on, because denigration sullies the one who does it more than the victim. Everything, however, has its limits. It is a very different thing to put words in my mouth that I did not say, as has happened with the interview published by Salim Lamrani in Rebelión. As I started to read it I didn’t note much distortion, but by the second part I couldn’t recognize myself. It’s true that in the introduction he tries to generate an aversion for me in his readers, but it is the right of any interviewer to describe how he sees the object of his questions.

The big surprise has been noted, in the way in which he presents the text: enormous omissions, distortions and even invented phrases attributed to me. It would have been just another attempt, among many thousands, to attribute to me positions I don’t share and declarations I never made, if it weren’t for the fact that the official Cuban media was prepared to quickly echo the rearranged interview. Yesterday, when I saw the presenter of the most boring program on official television refer, without ever mentioning my name, to a series of questions that had “stripped me naked,” I began to understand everything. The reason for the adulteration was not haste in transcription nor the desire of the journalist to prove his hypothesis at all cost, even distorting the words of the interviewee to do so. Something major is brewing with this semi-apocryphal text, and I now make a stop along the way in my blog to warn of it.

I have a very vivid memory of that afternoon almost three months ago – curiously Mr. Lamrani has waited all this time to publish our conversation – and of the words we exchanged. I remember his stereotypical questions, at times uninformed about our reality, and with very little resemblance to those, as documented, that he has reworked to appear to be a specialist. I would not characterize myself as one who responds in monosyllables, and I had a hard time finding myself among so much parsimony. As our interchange at the Hotel Plaza advanced, I could sense the sympathy he had for my position growing. In the end, I felt that all the barriers had fallen and he understood that we were not opponents, simply people who saw the same phenomena from different viewpoints. A final hug on his part confirmed it. But, evidently, his discipline for “the cause” was stronger than his journalistic ethics, and the professor from the Sorbonne ended up – visibly in the second part of the interview – falsifying my voice. On his painfully hip iPhone my moderate phrases must have been like a computer virus, eating away at the stereotypes, a call to end the confrontation that people like him prefer to feed.


33 thoughts on “The Other Interview

  1. you see … again you don’t read … you answer in haste …
    You equate (because that’s how you perceive things) disagreement w/sensorship.
    On top of it … twist or adjudicate statemens where there were non …
    As I said … as a representative of the rebolution … you mirror their attitude of intransigence & cruelty …
    Now … since I missed it … where is the censoring you are talking about?

  2. Explain that ‘privilege of disagreement’ to Yoani who censors if the truth is too hard for the EXILES to withstand.

  3. Eh? asumption?
    The way you come accross the use & enjoyment of the freedoms you are afforded by the sacrifice of others have somehow become just another entitlement in your life.
    One way to communicate is to consider one’s opinion in the context of others, while reserving the priviledge of disagreement, mantaining an open mind.
    Otherwise one’s statements may become “one sided”

  4. A blog if for those who speak so that others are not expected to assume. A very intelligent German Math professor once said to 6 graders, “Do not assume, because it makes an ass- out of -u- and -me

  5. Not daring to trust anyone in a repressive state is its insurance that people will “think twice” before becoming anything more than a vocal unorganized dissention …
    This is an “unspoken rule” used by most represive states to mantain their hold of power.
    When this “rule” starts to be ineffective … is when either the regime steps up its efforts for control say …via the availability of food supplies, utilities, perceived external threats etc. or starts “talking” about “change” … starts moves to “distract the people’s attention, sends it “agents” to sow doubt & create conmotions … so … where is the situation now?

  6. It is a self servin case to try & put doublt in the form of a fact.
    The questioning of wheather or not she was manhandled pales by the presence of the “representatives of the law” where to intimidate ?
    As to impecable conduct in the eyes of the law ? … almost imposible where the constitution is tailor made against dissension.
    I guess it takes a defender of the rebolution to notice the -“dubbing an agent of all you criticize for simply disagreeing w/your point of view without corroborative evidence of your claims …”-
    Why not? one element of repression & as a consecuence of it works best when fear forces one to mistrust everyone … fear of intimidation, reprisal, violence, incarceration, bodly harm & even death.
    Not just for the individual but for their family & friends.
    So, about the interview … how much can be said, how open can it be if the fear from the reprisals are ever present?
    Perhaps Yoani was/is aware of who would listen & read the interview?
    Perhaps she is/was aware of the possible retributions?
    Keep in mind, this “pied noir” finishes the interview & goes safely back home … satisfied that he has earned his salary, sold the comodity, got a “scoop” … proved his worth … while Yoani still in Cuba, subject to any response the rebolution may dish out …

    I think the “interview” is just that, perhaps because of the atmosphere one should “read between the lines”, perhaps what appears “un prepared” to some is “caution” to others; perhaps what is un “armed w/ a tape recorder”” to some is a sign of “faith to others …
    I do not think any of the commentators here was there to judge it one way or another since it is all in the perception & the spin & twist after the fact.

  7. Yoani,

    You don’t sound as weary of old structures anywhere, as you claim to be, when you consistently make yourself to be a victim, yet proffer no tangible evidence. With all the accolades and notoriety you have received worldwide, you can‘t pretend to be so naïve as to expect everyone to share your point of view; if in fact you have spent most of your life “in the crossfire of criticism“, and appear for an interview unarmed without your own tape recorder in hand.
    You make it sound like you’ll dub anyone and everyone an agent of all you criticize for simply disagreeing with your point of view, without corroborative evidence of your claims that Mr. Lamrani distorted and misconstrued your words, or that the secret police beat you.

    If your conduct was impeccable, and you were in fact unjustly manhandled, then you deserve sympathy, empathy, and at least an apology; but show the evidence. As in the following instances, for example:

    I agree with postings 24 & 25 – clarify for us your allegations. You can’t expect to win people to your understanding of the facts by simply alleging them. I do not know you, but I can understand you when you clarify facts for me. Take Salim Lamrani and those who allegedly beat you to task, and prove them wrong to the world.

  8. Do you have your own tape of the discussion or are you pitting your memory against Lamari’s tape? Have you asked him for a copy or challenged him to release it?

  9. I just read the interview. Could you point out what statements of yours that were distorted or falsified? And it would be good if you were to expand on your printed answers to make your positions more clear.

  10. My dearest Julio,
    I think it “is” about US. Even if we disregarded US’s interest in toppling revolutionary regimes such as Cuba’s, we are still left with the US as the model of democracy.
    Well, you seem to want to set up a so called democracy. So it is only natural to look at this model of democracy to have a better view of the things to come (in your best case scenario).
    Currently the US is engaged in military operations (yes military not humanitarian or philanthropist operations)in Iraq and Afghanistan (and in a more limited way in Yemen and Pakistan). I’m not sure if you have any memories of how it feels to be slaughtered at home but the Iraqis and Afghan people, they feel it. You may get a glimpse at the news every now and then. “In US drone attacks X civilians were killed”… well of course for you so far away this “X” and many “x”s similar to that may only be statistics. But this is no statistic for the victims.
    Now, what is the connection with Cuba? The connection can be traced via the model of democracy, that is the USA. Is it a democracy? Do people rule in the US? If so should we accept that it is the will of the American people to kill innocent people thousands of kilometers away?!!! Do they really wish to pay their tax money, put their soldiers at risk to invade other countries? For what?!! The profits of giant corporations?
    Who’s ruling the United States? the answer lies within the system governing it. “CAPITAL”
    In “the model of democracy” it is legal for the corporations to pay money, set up lobbies and influence the government’s decisions. It is perfectly legal to pay millions of dollars to have favorite laws passed and profitable steps taken.
    What do people do? Well every few years they are consulted to choose between Mr. X or Mr/Ms. Y. What if they want the entire system changed? What if they don’t want corporations to legally bribe their politicians? They may stage a peaceful rally! But who cares?! after all the corporations themselves channel the news and they can easily spin the facts.. and they do it masterfully.
    My friend, the way the United States is managed, it is not a democracy. it is the model of “corporatocracy”.
    Now if you really wish to improve things in Cuba, please be mindful enough to distinguish your aspired “democracy” from the one practiced in the US and many other countries. Otherwise, the people of Cuba will lose, even if you win…

  11. … lets ask for free elections … more that one party, free & honest debate and independently monitored elections …
    Instead of benefiting one … lets benefit all.
    If the present regime is stays in power, it will be thru a democratic process.
    If it gets replaced it will be thru a democaratic process as well …
    What is there to be lost … it is a lot to be won …
    from a childish challange, all the way to finding out the true wish of the people … the result should not be feared …

  12. it is funny … reverseal of roles & facts … the challange that is not …
    Thanks for the laugh!

  13. I already sent the fact of my challenge to the Havana Times, and will send it to more people if you keep weaseling out.

    I got to Cuba in your place 6 months. You come here 6 months. No Media favors, no special boosts from contacts for propaganda reasons. We literally change lifestyles.

    See who backs down first.

  14. It seems to me the castroists have adapted their form of counter/defence.
    Their “handle” has change & their tone is more civil … perhaps an honest fisaloge is in the horizon?

  15. Just try living in the US corporate environment. See if you have to defend yourself from criticism. The answer is everything you do will be scrutinized in a totalitarian manner.

    Wal-Mart, our largest corporations, has cameras set up at every point in the store. Literally, nothing escapes their eyes. You also have to log into a computer system whenever you- go on break, enter work, leave work, etc. Or say UPS- You miss 1 punch in for work by 1 minute, and I mean that literally if you punch in 1 minute TOO EARLY or TOO LATE for work and your corporate boss will criticize you for like 10-20 minutes a couple days later. No joke.

    McDonalds, one time a boss literally slapped an employee for speaking Spainish to her.

    Again, JUST TRY, making it as a worker in the US like a day. In fact we can have a challenge- I will go to Cuba and live like you for 6 months, and you can come to the US and live like a regular worker.

    See who caves in first.

  16. Sadeq this is not about US

    This is about the Cuban regime a totalitarian government of a few that repress the great poor majority of the people in their own country and that force people to do their will against their own will.
    This is about a few in power that want to hold on to power even if the people of their own country do not want them.

    Sadeq, this site is mainly about Cuba you are welcome to comment and give us your point of view.

  17. Dear Yoani,

    Fear not, because the mighty USA is watching your back and those against US shall perish inevitably.

    But then, please stop pretending to be so out-numbered and out-powered by the dark forces of Havana. Because you represent and milit the cause of He who not very far back in time owned half of the world resources. He! that mighty democracy, though highly indebted to the entire world, has enough muscle left for him to default at will (or perhaps nicely depreciate the $$$$).

    So fear not, because you are not defending the oppressed, you are siding with the one who has more to offer. That is certainly a wise choice.

    BTW as an Iranian, I want you to know something. The advocates of US objectives in Iran are so much similar to you. Reading your posts, I feel as if I’m reading the Iranian opposition. You might factor it in as the similarity between the opposition against all repressive and cruel regimes! If so, please be as liberal as you may wish to seem and try to understand that this coin has another face. Those repressive and cruel regimes are by accident revolutionaries against the hegemonic interests of the mighty United States of America.

    So if I may, I’d wish to have a final word with you. You may be right on certain points and you may be correct in criticizing mismanagements here or there. But one thing that shall always keep ordinary people from believing you, is that you are closer to the real oppressor (or should I say the more oppressor). Look at the Iranian opposition for example. They pretend to be against the repression and militating the cause of ordinary people. But in practice they are among the more affluent and westernized segments of the society. The result?! Well if you’re paid well enough, your cause is worth the effort. But if not, be sure that you will not win the hearts of people of the street. Even though your adversary may be anything but perfect.

    If you may have honored me enough to have read my comment yourself, let me thank you and wish you luck.

  18. I agree with you Julio that’s why the bloggers should put aside their differences and come together and post about what they know best. They are in close contact with the ladies in white,the relatives of the political prisioners and Coco Farinnas.
    Castro #1 knows this perfectly and he is the one orchestrating the whole operation “Cyber Disident Amnesia”( forget about Coco Farinnas ).
    Let spread rummors true or not, so they can talk about everything else but the real issues.He has been doing that for the last 50 years.

  19. Why Mr.Lamrani does not ask the same questions to Carlos Alberto Montaner(CAM)or Adolfo Rivero Caro (ARC)?. The same interview to CAM would have a completly different outcome.ARC takes this Salim to school.I guarantee you that.

  20. Concubino I think ghat is why the regime is orchestrating this campaign it may very well be that Coco is in very bad shape and they are trying hard to divert attention creating news on their own.A very Manipulative regime!

  21. John Two
    She was framed.She bit a poisoned bait.Tough lesson. Now she knows better.She should not accepted that interview in the fisrt place.At least not with just three hours in advance.Not to mention, without checking this guy background first.At least she should asked for the questions ahead of time.Time to move on, focus on the real issues affecting Cuba,the political prisioners, the Ladies in white.
    Does Coco Farinnas has to die before he is news again?
    A new post is comming on soon is already in the Spanish section.

  22. In one of her tweets she say that the questions that Salim made were modified on the publications etc see my translation of some of her tweets in Yoani’s prior post.
    It is so obvious it is a regime manipulation. I have seen Yoani answer other reporters and she never will give a short answer a monosyllabic answer and this interview many of her answers are portrait in that way!
    This is just smearing campaign by the Cuban regime directed at Yoani.

  23. Very good comments John Two I agree the regime is just trying to smear her popularity amongst the exiles and cubans and cubans.
    This is not the first campaign agaist an individual! They see themselves lossing power and credibility by the minute. This few cubans arms with the truth are been listen to all the world over while the lies they fabricate die immediately !


    Because they are very afraid. The end to their power is what scares them. The honey of power that Fidel Castro claims belongs to him.
    We are behind Yoani, at least I am because I know and undertand clearly how the manipulative Mafiosi regime at Havana works.
    Their propaganda machinery is flexing muscles for the attack.

    We have on one hand a man starving himself to deadth because he asked for the freedom of some political prisoners while on the other a government who refuses to listen to his own citizens. An unpopular government that was never freely elected in a contested election.
    A government that see enemies on everyone that opposes or is critical of their actions.

    That explain why Cuba is how it is, that explains why the economy does not work and why cubans want to migrate to fulfill their dreams in other places where freedom exist!

  24. Thanks concubino. If you look at Lamrani’s body of work it’s easy to say in hindsight that Yoani should have seen it coming. Calling Lamrani a journalist rather than a propagandist is way too kind on Yoani’s part. Nevertheless she’s always looking for respectful dialogue even when it’s not reciprocated.

    I’ve have a link now to the Rebelion article and would like to read it more carefully before responding further.

  25. Yoani’s hundreds of thousands of loyal readers must have temporarily overwhelmed the website as I haven’t be able to link to the article in question.

    And for anyone who thinks the Castro regime and its apologists have the least bit of interest in engaging in sincere dialogue with their political opponents, here is a short excerpt and link to a brutal character assassination of Cuban born journalist and author Carlos Alberto Montaner whose email exchanges with Silvio Rodriguez Yoani thought might open the door to real dialogue a few blog postings ago:

    “A strange dialogue recently occurred via open letters between the famous Cuban singer-songwriter Silvio Rodríguez – of universal fame and with a talent that has been celebrated many times over – and CIA agent Carlos Alberto Montaner, a fugitive from the Cuban justice system for placing bombs in cinemas and stores in the 1960s. He also collaborated with the assassination of religious figures in El Salvador and currently identifies himself with the troop of coup gangsters which took power in Honduras.

    The controversial correspondence between the Cuban, whose songs are heard and sung on every continent, and the State Department propagandist who abandoned the United States to work for the CIA in Falangist Spain during the 1970s, is now being published on every website that carries the stamp of yanki intelligence, beginning with El Nuevo Herald.

    In the exchange, Silvio expresses himself with the nobility that characterizes him and the unpatriotic Montaner writes with his usual deceptive language affiliated to so-called public diplomacy, managed in days past by Otto Reich and now under the guidance of the Hillary Clinton – John Negroponte duo.

    The ping pong match, which placed the Cuban singer and intellectual on one side and the owner of the covert mechanism of U.S aggression to spread systematic disinformation – ordered, coordinated and synchronized by the U.S intelligence agencies – on the other.

    And that owner is an unsavory character who divides his time, conspiring throughout, between his residence in Retiro Park in Madrid and his property on Brickell Avenue in Miami.”

    Don’t let em get you down Yoani.

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