Cuba’s ‘Festival CLIC’ and the Vast MinorityJune 25, 2012 | Print |
Haroldo Dilla Alfonso
HAVANA TIMES — I found out about “Festival CLIC” through an article by a contributor to the essential Havana Times. The festival, according to the writer, adopted an open and transparent approach to the event as “the best safeguard against government repression.”
The activity took place over three days (June 21-23) at the Miramar home of Antonio Rodiles and was cosponsored by the “Academia Bloguer” group, headed by Yoani Sanchez. The meeting also had the support of the “Evento Blog Español” (EBE), an association of Spanish bloggers which itself is an entity with 3,000 members and 3,000 dreams.
According to the promoters, the festival had “as its aim the sharing of what we have learned and the revealing of our deficiencies, (and it) is intended as an approach to knowledge without ideological requirements or market trends.”
The activity’s program included technical sessions, assessments of activity in Cuba and the showing of documentaries about the impact of social networks in world politics. The organizers announced that there would be no final statement with criticisms of anyone, but that they would discuss the possibility of a second conference.
The official reaction was swiftly forthcoming. The first to begin the saber rattling were the poorly paid Cuban government bloggers who infect cyberspace and are always ready and willing to commit slander – even if writing about Pericles’ funeral oration.
I don’t think they can do anything else in what remains of their professional lives. There is no way of curing them — not even lobotomies — given the ills of envy, frustration and resentment they suffer. There’s not much to comment on regarding these cyber-charlatans.
What I did find very disturbing was an editorial that appeared in Cubadebate.
Cubadebate is an organ of political/ideological information control. Although it’s a product for export that hopes to look more sophisticated, it actually aspires to the same objective as Granma, which is why everything that it publishes directly serves the worst aims of the Cuban government under the direction of the party’s Ideological Department.
The article in Cubadebate about the Festival CLIC is an example of what they are thinking and what the Cuban political elite could do. This was a direct and very awkward attack, a crude hodgepodge of incomplete ideas, poorly written allegories, and vile attacks against people and institutions, all at the same rudimentary level of what a carpenter would do if working out of a police station at night.
However Cubadebate also contained tremendously dangerous accusations in a country where there’s no such thing as public opinion, an autonomous press or a judiciary subsystem that is even moderately independent.
According to Cubadebate, the festival was to be convened at “a meeting place for members of the counterrevolution who are conspicuous by their mediocrity and do not conceal their intentions of turning this scenario into a spearhead for their much yearned for building a Cuban ‘civil society’ in the service of Washington.”
But here was its main point:
“The intention of Festival CLIC,” Cubadebate asserted, “is to advance the strategy of building networks before an attack, as they did in Libya, Syria and formerly in Yugoslavia, and to strengthen the idea of a counterrevolution allied with the United States as the promoter of Internet freedom.”
This was a statement that could serve to justify a new crackdown with the support of the official press, the poorly paid bloggers and the gang of big-mouthed commentators who fill the web with fascistic insults. This would include those who, by taking such a repressive step, would have to take responsibility for the consequences of such repression – as well as us, for demanding it.
They are lying and they know it.
They know perfectly well that the US, in its policy towards Cuba, is playing cheap and dirty. There’s no plan for an aggressive military operation, not even an active diplomatic effort that would allow the Cuban leaders assume a leading role as anti-imperialist fighters. Those times have passed.
The US government is allowing time do its work, letting the octogenarians die off and their heirs cut the deal to provide themselves with everything they need to complete their bourgeois metamorphosis.
Meanwhile the chips don’t move in any important direction, simply because to move chips is more costly than doing nothing. But the Cuban leaders need epic-dimensioned chaos to justify their own existence, sustain their support, keep those who are partially supportive terrorized and to maintain the opposition under police control.
They know that Yoani Sanchez is not a US government agent, and that if she is playing her own political game it’s because she has talent for that and every right in the world in her capacity as a Cuban citizen.
They know that Estado de SATS is a valuable civic/intellectual project that has never called national independence into question and has striven to be a pluralistic forum, where everyone can come and everyone has a place.
They know that Havana Times isn’t backed by the United States government but is produced with the untiring work of a passionate American living in Central America and that the website constitutes a place where the best thinking of youth from the island is gathered.
But they also know that the meeting at Rodiles’ house is a major threat to the long and uncontested monopoly on power that they have held. This is not because these activists are plotting to overthrow the government, since that isn’t on the agenda.
Much less are they promoting an anti-national conspiracy, because in that regards no one could do it better than the Cuban leaders themselves, who have reduced the island into an international beggar that lives off of temporary subsidies, in a condition of depopulation and as a highly vulnerable atomized society.
The meeting of Festival CLIC is a great danger because it is trying to create separate networks and to win the public as never before. It is not a matter of more or less Internet, which remains the prerogative of the Cuban government (which will maintain it at a low level no matter how many fiber-optic cables appear connecting the island to the world).
This is because the lack of Internet access in Cuba isn’t a question that is essentially technical, but one that is absolutely political – and neither Yoani with all of her awards nor Rodiles with his patient courage can change that.
The problem is a matter of unauthorized social contacts, of people who have decided not to ask for permission, of several dozen people who are looking to the sides and not up.
Certainly this has taken only five decades, according to the Festival CLIC organizers. They are a minority. But, recalling the Spanish poet Juan Ramon Jimenez, he would say that by their moral force, this involves a vast minority, and the Cuban regime is trembling before that opposition, even if it is a minority. And ultimately the regime will crumble before the immensity of those morals.
Thanks to everyone who attended the Estado de SATS headquarters to take this new step for the future of Cuban society.