Dago on TV

I finish helping my son with his homework on Boccaccio’s Decameron and turn to watch a serial on television filled with another kind of human misery, so distant from medieval Italy. There are more than thirty minutes of a broadcast full of forced conclusions and barely convincing “proofs” about the relationship between opponents, plastic artists and independent journalists, and foreign powers. The script was written from fear, from the tremor produced in Cuban institutions by those individuals who can interact, learn and prosper beyond the limits of the State.

I’m yawning from boredom when suddenly there’s the familiar face of Dagoberto Valdés accompanied by a description of a “counterrevolutionary element.” I shout for joy because next to his photo they’ve mentioned the magazine Coexistence that he leads. A websurfer knows well the number of hits an attack on national television can bring to a website, even in a country with connectivity as low as this one. But beyond my enthusiasm for statistics, I realize that my friend is taking a public stoning on prime time television. Dago is strongly denigrated with no right to reply, demonized in a way that causes several colleagues to call me, frightened, “Is he going to prison? Maybe going to be shot?” I try to calm them down, while is seems that greatest offense is the despair and helplessness our leaders feel from not being able to contain the phenomena citizen-generated information. But I don’t tell those who ask me how worried I really am, extremely worried for this man from Pinar del Rio whose profession was once palm frond collector.

When the weakest of the “Cuba’s Reasons” chapters ends I grab my mobile and send some tweets. Is this the big difference, I wonder while typing, between the government campaigns of years past and those that happen in this millennium of computerization and social networks? Now, a good share of my compatriots prefer to watch a program recorded from an illegal satellite dish, rather than be indoctrinated by a serial about undercover agents, captains of the Ministry of the Interior, who speak with suspicious sweetness, and hidden cameras that show what happens in public view. But in contrast to the seventies and eighties, Dago now has a website, a blog and even a Twitter account to say what they give him no chance to respond to in the official libelous report. He is a citizen with his own opinion channel, with the capacity to disseminate ideas which — in the face of an attack like this — becomes his principal sin and his only protection.


20 thoughts on “Dago on TV

  1. Last post was mine! Definetly like that one, if I dont say so myself! It brings Hollywood a little closer to the cause of FREEDOM FOR CUBA! DUH!


    Juragua Nuclear Power Plant- Cienfuegos, Cuba
    Juragua Nuclear Power Plant was a nuclear power plant under construction in Cuba when a suspension of construction was announced in 1992 following the collapse of the Soviet Union and the termination of Soviet economic aid to Cuba.

    Russia and Cuba sought third-country financing to complete the plant in the mid 1990s but in 2000 the two countries agreed to abandon the project.



  3. Your brave blog continues to inspire me. I visited Habana last November to see for the first time the tomb of my ancestors in Colon cemetery. It made me want to come back again and learn more about your seductive island and how life may evolve in the coming years.

    When I read about your friend Dago I hoped his being trashed by government TV means that they believe his influence is becoming great.

    I remember some saying the Soviet Union could not survive the fax machine, and that China’s repressive government could not quiet the internet. We now know that Egypt managed to effectively shut down access to the internet, but only for a brief time. China has an ongoing battle with Google over open access. I believe much of the overturning of regimes in the Mid East recently were fueled by attempts to block the internet.

    It must give dictator’s a big headache trying to quiet the human nervous system that now covers the entire planet.

  4. Reading old articles by Yoani, I came across comments by “Dr. Damir Matulovic”

    What type of doctor are your Damir? What did you study? What sort of conference did you attend in Cuba? How many times have you visited?

  5. XSW 2011: Clay Shirky on social media and revolution
    The social leading web thinker drew applause from the SXSWi audience with his praise for Egyptian protesters
    Shirky admitted to “getting it wrong” in previous writings about how social media can affect political change. Although it is “still early days” in understanding at what point social media can be said to have affected social change, it is now clear that “disciplined non-violence [which brought down Tunisia’s Ben Ali] doesn’t come from synchronised turnout”.
    “Governments have systematically overestimated access to information,” Shirky said.
    “They’ve also systematically underestimated access to each other. Access to conversations among amateurs is more politically inspiring than access to information. Governments are afraid of synhronised groups, not synchronised individuals.
    “The history of print should make us sceptical of the theory that media is inherently political, or even that people are inherently political. Just because someone isn’t talking about politics in their spare time doesn’t mean they wont turn out in Tahrir Square when the serious business starts

    We have greatly overestimated value of access to info and greatly underestimated value of access to each other
    Access to conversation is more important than access to information for political realm
    Governments are not afraid of informed individuals. They are afraid of synchronized actions
    New media doesn’t create social change directly, but it gives people a platform to spread new ideas
    The more abundant the media, the harder it is to control

  6. You might also check out Lazaro Saavedra and Los Carpinteros. Carlos Garacoia has a great piece at the Tate Modern about film censorship.

  7. Love Cuba,

    No, it was about five years ago. I saw the installation at the Museum of Canadian Canadian Art in Toronto, and have since become friends with the artist, Jose Toirac. I just hope there isn’t pressure on the artists. I sense an undertow of panic on the part of the regime. They can’t keep the people in the dark forever. Just look at what is happening in the middle east — the effect of the net and social networks has really has been extraorinary. A friend who teaches art practice in Dubai has noted great changes in attitudes over the last four years. Toirac’s piece ended up, I think, in a private Belgian collection. Another piece he did consisted of a series of grisaille portraits of every president of Cuba, with their dates. (He even had a backup of Raoul avant le fait.) This proved to be unshowable at the Havana Belles Artes. Simple facts can be dangerous.

  8. Dagoberto Valdés Hernández

    Dagoberto Valdés Hernández was born on August 4, 1955 in western province of Cuba – Pinar del Rio. He has three children. Having graduated from the university with engineering degree in agriculture Hernández started tutoring. He was a member of a research group dealing with mechanization of farming. Being Catholic Hernández was not allowed to continue his scholarly career. Also because of religion he could not enroll for sociological or legal studies he had dreamt of. Catholics were allowed to study only technical specializations.

    Then he was forced to work in cigar factory in Pinar del Rio where he labored for 16 years until the year 1996. Being promoted he moved to the position of Chairman of Technical Council which gathered 87 engineers. It was in 1994 that a catholic newspaper “Vitral” was created and Hernández kept it under his supervision until 2007. The involvement in “Vitral” caused him to be dismissed from a job on the second of May 1996. In result, he was sent to work in the field together with crew that picked yagüas leaves protecting cigars from drying.

    On 2nd July 2006 he was moved by the same company – Empresa de Tabaco – as an engineer of control and quality to Pinar del Rio and then in October he was again chosen for the Chairman of Company Technical Council. Yet, it seemed to be another deliberate insidious action of regime – in February 2007 he was fired for receiving more profitable contract than the rest of laborers.

    His social and educational activity flourished when he held the post of an editor-in-chief of “Vitrala” and director of Centre of Civil and Religious Formation(Centro de Formación Cívica y Religiosa, CFCR) in Pinar del Rio and President of Catholic Committee for Culture in Pinar del Rio which was under his supervision until 2006. Hernández was also a member of State Executive Secretariat of Catholic Press Union on Cuba and since 1998 a member of Pontifical Council “Justice and Peace” (Vatican). At Social Catholic Weeks on Cuba, which he organized since 1991, people of goodwill and laic Catholics have met to contemplate condition of society, country and man. At the same time Hernández worked as a correspondent of “La Voz Católica” and Italian “Sociedad”. In 2004 Hernández was granted by The American Center of Polish Culture with Jan Karski’s Award al Valor y la Compasión. In the same year he published his third book titled “Cuba: libertad y responsabilidad. Desafios y Proyectos”. Titles of his previous books are: “Somos trabajadores” i “Reconstruir la sociedad civil: un Proyecto para Cuba”.

    Dagoberto was also a founder of the movement „Ministros laicos de la Palabra”, which he led for 10 years (1977 – 1987).

    Besides, he took part in 25th World Congress of International Catholic Movement for Intellectual and Cultural Affairs (MIIC – PAX Romana) in 1987during which he received his first audience at John Paul the Second. Four years later in Lima he participated in Latin American Congress MIIC as a Cuban representative.

    Since 1991 Dagoberto has been an organizer and speaker often invited for Semanas Sociales Católicas de Cuba. In 1995 he took part in the first world meeting of the Responsible for Pontificio Consejo Justicia y Paz.

    In 1998 he participated in preparations for visit of John Paul the Second on Cuba. In recognition of Hernández’s merits Pope gifted him the Bible and invited for a meeting at the University of Havana.

    In his famous article titled “Something budged on Cuba” (Algo se mueve en Cuba), Dagaberto explains what the meaning of being a citizen in a democratic society is today in the following way:

    Having political and civil maturity signifies in the first place awareness that in democracy every citizen is entitled to certain space of sovereignty. Sovereignty means ability to be a part of the nation which we form. Sovereignty means ability to participate in making decisions concerning improvement of life of the nation to which we all belong. Sovereignty means ability, which may be recognized or not, to transform reality in which we live by united drive towards the goal.
    Devotedly and passionately Dagoberto explains to the Cuban reader what the nature of democracy is and how changes based on Social Doctrine of Catholic Church are necessary in society. With patience he clarifies the nature of problems on Cuba while emphasizing the importance of involving oneself into social work in order to initiate transformations. Hernández’s attitude reflects constructive criticism of contemporary model of western consumerist societies and moral reflection based on profound catholic belief. Looking at the individual in a global dimension and regarding the man as a valuable citizen who has right and obligation to fight for his and other’s freedom he underlines the gravity of individual personal development opposing at the same time apathy of the socialist society on Cuba and treating citizens as a mass.


  9. @trudeau, is that Castro as Christ exhibit on the internet somewhere? can you provide the names of some of the artists?

  10. I wish Yoani had given a few more details about the visual artists being denounced on state television, because several of my friends in Havana, who exhibit internationally, make work that is critical of the regime. One did a piece comparing the life of Castro to the life of Christ, using only press clippings. The miracles would be things like visits to hospitals of the blind. And the Crucifixion ? Being named by Forbes Magazine as one of the richest men in the world. That piece caused a whole section of the Havana Bienale to be closed down. I shall have to send some emails.

  11. calm down, is only his “other” personality … the one w/the US accent …

  12. WASHINGTON TIMES: Gadhafi can count on Chavez, Castro-Leftist leaders stand by Libyan

    CARACAS, Venezuela | As Col. Moammar Gadhafi finds himself increasingly isolated internationally, he still has at least a few friends far away.

    Latin America’s most prominent leftists rallied early to his defense and have stayed there even as former friends, neighbors and countrymen have abandoned the embattled Libyan dictator and urged his ouster.

    Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez, Cuba’s Fidel Castro and Nicaragua’s Daniel Ortega have been foremost in opposing U.S. and NATO military involvement, and in suggesting that reports of atrocities by Col. Gadhafi’s troops are overblown or unproven.

    “What is the United States proposing? A war, an invasion of Libya. They want Libyan oil,” Mr. Chavez said Sunday. He praised the African Union for appointing a commission of leaders to travel to Libya for talks – an effort in line with his own peace proposals.

    Mr. Chavez’s calls for mediation reflect both his affinity for Col. Gadhafi and his ambition to be a global player, rallying nations against the United States.

    But his critics say Mr. Chavez has no credibility to promote mediation because he has ignored abuses by Col. Gadhafi’s regime. And his stance also is uncomfortable for some of his allies and political supporters, who side with the uprising and say it’s time for Col. Gadhafi to go.

    Latin America’s staunchest leftists long ago embraced Col. Gadhafi as a fellow fighter against global U.S. influence, and they instinctively reject any U.S. intervention almost anywhere.

    Both Mr. Castro and Mr. Chavez repeatedly have suggested the U.S. is stirring up trouble in Libya to grab its oil and say Libyans should settle their own internal conflict.

    That stance has put them at odds with some of their friends. The left-leaning governments of Argentina and Brazil have condemned Col. Gadhafi’s crackdown on opponents. And even some followers of Mr. Castro and Mr. Chavez have been recoiling from their positions.

    Comments posted on Cuban government websites and some articles on the pro-Chavez website aporrea.org have objected to backing Libya’s eccentric strongman.

    One article on aporrea.org titled “Neither Gadafi nor imperialism!” argued that Mr. Chavez’s government should “support the revolutionary masses of Libya” that have risen up to topple the “capitalist dictator.”

    A group of Venezuelan Marxists led by writer Domingo Alberto Rangel and lawyer Jose Ramon Velasquez issued a statement last week condemning Col. Gadhafi’s “brutal repression” of the civilian population.

    The government, meanwhile, released a statement backed by more than 260 artists and intellectuals in Venezuela and elsewhere opposing foreign military intervention and supporting Mr. Chavez’s mediation proposal.

    Adam Isacson, an analyst at the Washington Office on Latin America, said Mr. Chavez’s approach and “his evident lack of concern about Col. Gadhafi’s abuses owe to a combination of misplaced south-south solidarity and a desire to take a position contrary to the United States’ almost for its own sake.”

    “Chavez’s stance certainly gives a lot of new fodder to his many international critics,” Mr. Isacson said. “Especially among more moderate Latin American leaders, Chavez’s Libya stance increases the political cost of maintaining warm relations with him.”

    The Chavez-Castro stance also is at odds with that of many Arab states. The Arab League is promoting a no-fly zone to prevent more air strikes by Col. Gadhafi’s forces


  13. AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL: Repression of Cuban dissidents persists despite releases -16 March 2011

    The Cuban authorities are continuing to stifle freedom of expression on the island in spite of the much-publicised recent wave of releases of prominent dissidents, Amnesty International warned today on the eighth anniversary of a crackdown on activists.

    Hundreds of pro-democracy activists have suffered harassment, intimidation and arbitrary arrest in recent weeks as the Cuban government employs new tactics to stamp out dissent.

    Of 75 activists arrested in a crackdown around 18 March 2003, only three remain in jail after 50 releases since last June, with most of the freed activists currently exiled in Spain. Amnesty International has called for the remaining prisoners to be released immediately and unconditionally.

    “The release of those detained in the 2003 crackdown is a hugely positive step but it tells only one side of the story facing Cuban human rights activists,” said Gerardo Ducos, Cuba researcher at Amnesty International.

    “Those living on the island are still being targeted for their work, especially through short-term detentions, while repressive laws give the Cuban authorities a free rein to punish anyone who criticises them.”

    “Meanwhile, three of the prisoners detained eight years ago still languish in prison and must be freed immediately.”

    In one recent crackdown the authorities detained over one hundred people in one day in a pre-emptive strike designed to stop activists marking the death of activist Orlando Zapata Tamayo, who died following a prolonged hunger strike while in detention.

    On 23 February, the one-year anniversary of Tamayo’s death, according to the Cuban Commission of Human Rights and National Reconciliation, the authorities placed over 50 people under house arrest before freeing them hours later.

    Activist Néstor Rodríguez Lobaina, was recently named a prisoner of conscience by Amnesty International after being detained without trial for over three months.

    The president of the Cuban Youth Movement for Democracy was arrested after organizing an activists’ meeting inside his own home.

    “Cubans are still at the mercy of draconian laws that class activism as a crime and anyone who dares to criticise the authorities is at risk of detention,” said Gerardo Ducos.

    “In addition to releasing long-term prisoners of conscience, to properly realize freedom of expression the Cuban government also has to change its laws.”

    Seventy-five people were jailed in a massive crackdown against the dissident movement around 18 March 2003 for the peaceful exercise of their right to freedom of expression. Most of them were charged with crimes including “acts against the independence of the state” because they allegedly received funds and/or materials from US-based NGOs financed by the US government.

    They were sentenced to between six and 28 years in prison after speedy and unfair trials for engaging in activities the authorities perceived as subversive and damaging to Cuba.

    These activities included publishing articles or giving interviews to US-funded media, communicating with international human rights organizations and having contact with entities or individuals viewed to be hostile to Cuba.


  14. Simba Sez: Damir #1 I don’t want to tell you that you’re ignorant, but one post on the 15th, another on the 14th, and none for the four days previous is not:

    Hey, look !!!!!

    Another post, fift in five days!!!!

    Now hold up your fingers and start across them, uno, dos, stop right there ignoramus, that’s all there is. If you’re the best the Castro boys have, I hope they never try for rocketry. A rocket scientist you’re not.

  15. I suspect it’s no coincidence that the Castro regime is freeing imprisoned dissidents on the one hand, while stepping up attacks on dissidents in Cuban state media. It’s obviously an intimidation tactic. Will it work? Maybe in the short run. But as Yoani points out, it’s getting harder for the regime to control the flow of information, as more citizens “acquire their own opinion channels, with the capacity to disseminate ideas” outside of state control.

  16. Damir,

    Why are u acting like I don’t exist??? I asked you a question 2 weeks ago and im still waiting on an answer….

    U previously claimed that Yohani’s blog was accessible from within Cuba… So how do you explain the reports saying that le cyberbloquade has been lifted? Why would they report that if according to you there was no censorship? And please prove to me that u have a brain and try to answer the question instead of throwin’ me the usual gibberish please

  17. Where did MININT find this wretched creature posting on #1? I think he must be from my namesake psychiatric facility Mazorra. A nut job who’s programming has gone hopelessly wrong. This is who they send here in their desperation to fight their idiotic and doomed to failure, “cyberwar”. A half-whit communist who writes as if he is in some protracted LSD trip. In the last few days we’ve had several appearances from the disgraceful Canadian arnold august, a supposedly disaffected American who moved to Mexico because he hates his country and admires Cuba, and now after a prolonged absence the brain-damaged nit-whit from the previous post comes back for a return engagement. I wonder who we’ll see next, maybe Sean Penn, Danny Glover …

  18. Man, I wish there was a delete button for this quack named Damir. He seems to go out of his way to trash anything and everything Yoani says and attack her personally on a consistent basis. Get a life you mean spirited idiot.

  19. Hey, look !!!!!

    Another post, fift in five days!!!!

    How strange… Didn’t the team “yoani” make their destiny to convince us that the internet is unavailable to Cubans…???

    See, poor “yoani” has to use “those” taxies to get to a public inernet (funny that, the internet is available publicly in a country that doesn’t allow it… hmmm…), has to look at poor children on the street having to wear the school uniforms and boys must have neat haircuts or else when they could roam like animals and have no uniform at all, and who cares about neat haircuts in “some kind of pragmatic capitalism”, right? (not that the team “yoai” would know squat, living in Cuba, about what the life and rules are in that “some kind of pragmatic capitalism” paradise of theirs.

    Oh, if only those “white gods” would arrive already and free our poor “yoani” from having to suffer so much.

    One question: if it is so bad there why did “she” come back…?

    Could have stayed in Spain and bull from there in full comfort of some cheap dilapidated “some kind of pragmatic capitalism” one bedroom condo costing $1200 euros or more per monts, while an average salary in Spain is, funny that, just about the same!!!!!

    I get it, it is the same old story with those incompetent and intellect deprived, never satisfied, greedy primitives: the grass is ALWAYS greener over the fence…

    A foreigner is always more interesting than a local. Why not get one for a boss and a president?

    Like the usa, for example. Let us disregard for amoment that it was “white gods”, like reagan, nixon and forrest gump who had screwed the country good, now they have a black immigrant for a president (they say it, not I. I do not care if they go to hell today):


    Ahhh, the life in “some kind of pragmatic capitalism” is all wonderful and beautiful!!! Come “white gods”, liberate the team “yoani” from everything!!

    Teach them a lesson in “some kind of pragmatic capitalism”.

    They deserve it.

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