Foreword to the book En Tiempos de Blogosfera (In Times of Blogosphere)
La Joven Cuba and me
I met the editors of the blog La Joven Cuba —Osmany Sánchez, Roberto Peralo, and Harold Cárdenas— while I worked at the University of Matanzas. From the beginning, I appreciated their determination and a great deal of perseverance they have had to exercise to remain above prohibitions and distrust, attacks, and labels. With Harold, in particular, I’m joined by a deep friendship, of the kind that withstands time, distance, and all sorts of trials.
I remained, however, a rather occasional reader of the blog, and kindly turned down their initial requests for collaborations. I sincerely recognize I considered a bit presumptuous the conviction those guys had that the world of digital media was the way to propose a transformation of Cuban society and politics which wasn’t embodied by the national press. I disagreed with Harold many times and I warned him, almost lecturing him, that the media people consume on a massive scale are the ones which should lead the transformations, that not everyone can access the web and that the traditional newspaper or the TV newscasts would have to assume a more critical and active stance, which even the leaders of the government demanded.
Nearly a decade has passed. The LJC blog will celebrate its first ten years of existence in 2020. I also celebrated each of them and I’ve left my old attitude behind. Now I’m convinced that the number of Cubans who access the internet in a variety of ways is growing: at their workplaces, paying the high connection rates both in Wi-Fi areas or through mobile data, through the weekly packages, traveling to other countries, or with the helpful habit of forwarding the articles and news, they consider relevant to the accounts and networks of friends.
I have equally given up the hope of immediate change in our press media, which seems to live in almost complete isolation with respect to reality. I also confirmed that healthy habits such as controversy, the contrasting of ideas, and the debating of opinions, unknown in society and in most of the national media, are commonplace in the blogosphere.
I needed nothing else to say: ‘Yes, I’ll do it’ the next time my young friend asked me for a piece for his blog. I now proudly identify myself as a regular collaborator of LJC, which already exceeds five million online reads. Each week I carry out an exercise of civic catharsis and, without meaning to impose my views on anyone —it doesn’t work like that on the web, with its open forums—, I pay my conscience a share of responsibility.
Antonio Gramsci, an Italian Marxist who for years was made invisible in Cuba by the Soviet manuals, recommended: ‘[It is] better to work out consciously and critically one’s own conception of the world and thus, in connection with the labors of one’s own brain, choose one’s sphere of activity, take an active part in the creation of the history of the world, be one’s own guide, refusing to accept passively and supinely from outside the molding of one’s personality.’ That’s what I’ve tried to do since I discovered it’s the only way to destroy the prison we can unwittingly build for thought. My writings for LJC are a part of the process.
This book compiles a sample of the works I’ve published over nearly two years. They are a sort of hybrid between a brief essay and an opinion piece. I’m not a journalist but a historian. Therefore I’ve been unable —and unwilling— to avoid making history, more or less explicitly, a protagonist of my reflections. What I write originates from a knowledge of the past and of the aspirations and needs I have in the present, perhaps many of them shared with the readers.
ALH Matanzas, July 2019
Translated from the original