Image: Disks for reading the blogs in off-line versions
From the time I conceived this blog in October 2008 , I decided that I wouldn’t moderate comments, a decision I thought made sense for two reasons: my scarce opportunities to connect to the Internet, and the desire to maintain a relationship between the Eighth Circle that exists on the Internet and the Eight Circle that I live in my reality.
Now to top it off a new resolution seems intent on not letting Cubans connect in public sites, here in Havana it has strangely started with those pubic sites that allow slightly less censored navigation on the web (Wi-Fi connections). Even though I’m not between a rock and a hard place with regards to posting, but the day that posting in this blog becomes a questions of “card or no card,” I’ll plant myself at the hotel, laptop on my back, and we’ll see what happens, as people say with tremendous bravado, because this one thing is inviolate for me (like the principles of the Revolution): my blog continues, Octavo Cerco YES. But I won’t sweat it for a couple days, I’ll wait and see how things unfold, we already know that in Cuba resolutions have three basic periods: The first month with extreme and arbitrary applications; the second month with relaxation of the application and deregulation in the use of the law; the third month with “What regulation?”*
Obviously with these worries about continuing to publish, monitoring the comments would be a step higher than what I can aspire to. But neither do I want, and this then is the second reason: in my country what I say in my blog I can’t say anywhere else, I’m condemned to express myself virtually and like me, all those who think differently, all who differ from the official, all the citizens and independent journalists, all those who favor a change in government policy, in short, all those who exercise freedom of expression to a greater or lesser extent are silenced or punished. That’s why the trolls do their daily work in Octavo Cerco, day by day they show that in Cuba you cannot disagree, and they don’t precisely argue, but rather they insult, abuse, accuse and lie, just as happens in real life, exactly as happens when an ordinary person lets off steam in the street: it’s irrefutable proof of the oppression of freedom of expression. I actually pity them a bit, condemned to offending in the comments when in reality their preference would be to call a repudiation rally against me, or to beat me up in a room at Villa Marista, but times have changed, but not that much, which is why they are still around, so that everyone can see the unchanging repression the Cuban government has exercised and does exercise against those who express themselves freely, the insults and lies are the best snapshot they could give to Octavo Cerco virtual of what happens in Octavo Cerco real, in Cuba there is no debate, we cannot ask them then to do what in Cuba they are not allowed to do: dialogue.
I believe, moreover, that each commentator is responsible for what he says, just as La Salamandra Blanca, Ciro and I are.
*I want to clarify that when the Cohiba hotel was called they said there’s no problem, you can come in, yesterday morning Yoani Sánchez was unable to do so and it’s not a personal matter relating only to her: Cubans are not allowed to buy Internet cards there.
This is an excerpt to a version of the song, Epitaph for Vladimir Visotski by Karsmarski Jacek (Polish dissident songwriter), which includes Ciro Diaz in his latest album, The Blue Slug, that I listened to compulsively for at least two months, especially on the street with my mp3 inherited from a friend who now has an I-pod. (Download the lyrics here) (Download the recording and album cover here) The song (in summary, which runs about ten minutes) is about a desperate artist going through the circles of hell in search of an answer or death, and at the end of his journey there is only loneliness and the weight of the supreme power above himself. So I found myself at times catching the bus across Havana at 12 noon in August under the perennial sunshine and with the distressing feeling of not going anywhere, or arriving too late, or going for pleasure ... I feel that I have already arrived at the eighth enclosure (this is the finale of the song) where there is nothing, and I feel useless and empty, and I look at people without faith who walk along the street and who have so much fear that they no longer know they're afraid, and who have seen so many Roundtables and so many news broadcasts that they no longer know what belongs to reality or just to the TV screen. They cannot discern that they no longer believe, but cannot disbelieve either, and just move along past me not going anywhere.