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.