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Freedom Collection

Interviews with Ernesto Hernandez Busto

Interviewed January 5, 2011

The “ordinary” Cuban, as they say, “the common Cuban” is very suspicious of any social initiative, because he’s had enough of the official propaganda; he identifies any political idea, and even any civil movement, he automatically identifies it with the government and what the government has been doing. So many times those people just distance themselves from that discourse and they behave apathetically. So that´s something important, that is a major challenge, not only winning in numbers, but convincing and persuading, rebuild that damaged tissue by years of totalitarianism, and to reconnect people. There are reasons to be optimistic in that sense. The relationship that the Cuban people have, and I’m not just talking about bloggers, I’m talking about the regular Cuban, with information has changed.

These days, very curious phenomena have been seen, like, people who have had a cell phone for only a few months use that phone to document the police brutality in a movie theater, for example. And they feel that information is valuable; it is a weapon for them. The rappers movement in Cuba is starting to generate momentum, I would not say of social commitment, but it goes against the apathy that the Cuban government had created, which is one of the main weapons, to keep people engaged in the most basic levels of survival: getting food, finding ways to “solve” as they say in Cuba, the “everyday” and not to worry about anything else on a bit deeper level, or that has a collective vision.

I think this is one of the main challenges for the people who are doing something in Cuba. Now, for us, who live outside of Cuba, let’s say that it is very difficult to make a career as an opposition figure, because on one hand, you are subject to the allegations of foreign funding, and on the other hand, the level of real action is limited by mechanisms of listening, monitoring– then we must act almost blind, right?

It’s very difficult to communicate freely with people that want to do something in Cuba, and also, in Cuba there has always been this feeling that the legitimate change is the change that comes from within, you know, they have an idea that the exile community cannot play an important role. I believe that new technologies may contribute to undoing that myth.

I´ve been blogging about Cuban issues for almost four years and now I think, not only because of the level of audience that my blog has, but also due to the level of credibility that it has, it’s used as a daily source for almost all foreign journalists on the island. I know it, because I see where they are getting connected. In Cuba the connection points, or access points, because they are not telephone companies like in any other country, always show the name of the institution that is providing the Internet access, it shows in any cyber statistics. So, I see who the people connecting are. People who connect are often these reporters that are inside Cuba, but go to a blog that is outside Cuba to find out what the menu of news is. So I think that kind of pressure has been important.