Internet is 40 years old. No one could have imagined in the distant December of 1969 when the first steps for this giant international net were taken, that four decades later it would be the most powerful instrument for communication and easy to use.
The connexions between the computers in the Universities of Los Angeles, Stanford, Utah and California, in Saint Barbra and one Centre of investigation for the Defence went immediately beyond the threshold of the investigation and the Defence. The student world, the university young people, the enterprises, the State institutions and the complex fabric of the civil society took immediate control of this efficient, simple, close, personalized and global tool for work.
The world has substantially changed after Internet appeared. Two aspects of the human person’s essence have acquired universal dimensions: freedom and solidarity.
Internet has granted human freedom a channel for expression without boundaries and with no other limitation than the very ethical exercise of freedom. Internet is the most inclusive door for the adulthood responsible freedom. That is why in Internet appear the same human miseries and deviations that exist in real life. Not everybody uses this freedom for the good, the beauty and the truth; but this is the story of every progress of humankind. Only the education for using the own freedom and to have access to ethical and civic responsibility is the way for everyone to learn how to choose between the weaknesses and the strengths of the greatest net of freedom that human genre has achieved ever.
Only the ones who oppose to the freedom of citizens restrict or block the access to Internet. It shows the tremendous efficiency and power of this net. Cuba is one of the few countries in the world that exercise this restriction to freedom from a position of power for fear to information, to communication, to supportive solidarity.
…FOR FEAR TO FREEDOM.
But what can we expect from a system that, at this stage of civilization grant the government and its security bodies the right to decide who is going to own a telephone, a car or a house…? They decide who is going to travel inside the country or abroad, who can publish or not their literary, artistic or opinion works. But nobody listens to this. Or almost no one sees this. And a few take this seriously as a proof of the nature of the system that blockades Cuba. The commercial interests are unscrupulously placed above the freedom and the dignity of each Cuban, woman and man.
Meanwhile, hypocritically, a few governments and institutions want to censor Internet because of the moral miseries related to sex or because of the execrable incitement to bloody violence. It’s true that we have to find a way to do that without violating the essential freedom. But why not acting with the same intensity about the violations of the rights that don’t have to do with sex? Or is it that the dignity of the human person is determined only by the south hemisphere of the human body? When will come the day in which the hemispheres north and south of the human person are equally looked after, healed, defended and dignified?
…FOR FEAR TO SOLIDARITY.
Another structural essence of the human person that acquires with Internet holistic dimensions is solidarity. The world net is not available to everybody. It’s necessary to have resources, computers and connexion. But at the same time, whenever there is a problem or a personal need there is no better universal amplifier than Internet. Thousands of children, ill persons, elderly men, disabled persons, cry out for help through that virtual net of real solidarity. Thousands of segregated, oppressed, exploited people, people in prison and unfairly condemned to death turn to the solidarity of the net.
Only the ones who oppose to inter personal and community solidarity restrict or block Internet. The ones who exert the paternalist messianism do not want the democratization of solidarity. They only believe in solidarity by decree. They just can give help in order to receive, in exchange, a kind of gratitude which means political fidelity. It is bad taste to bite the hand that feeds you, as the saying goes. It’s the essence of populisms when the help turns into a machinery of political control and ideological dependence. The sovereign solidarity among citizens either with the help of Internet or the help of the multiple and diverse organizations or groups of the civil society is the greatest danger for paternalist totalitarianisms.
What can we expect from a way of administration where it is more difficult to be supportive than doing harm to others when an anonymous letter is received in a work centre and immediately it acquires a category of document with official power? What to expect from a system that helps other places of the world and deprives its health system, education, sports, culture and other essential sectors from resources? Or is it an absolute “priority” to promote exportations and a source of income in foreign currency to the country? Is it that the essence of social justice let itself succumb to the savage market disguised as real socialism? Solidarity is the most socialist of all human attitudes, but it cannot be authentic if it is only for abroad, from above and by decree. Internet is the worst enemy of this kind of “solidarity” which works as a “maid” at the service of political or economic interests.
…FOR FEAR TO THE THRUTH.
We, the ones who live in a country which is blocked by its own laws, taken up by its ideology and “protected” by its power structures, know better than anyone that information is power. It’s not the power of the weapons or the torture or the repression using sticks in the middle of a central avenue; it’s not the power of the kidnapping of a young woman whose only equipment is the dignity and the freedom. This is not the kind of power information has. Its power is the truth. Truth does not need weapons or armies, or informers or anonymous letters. Truth carries in itself another kind of power: the pacific and convincing power of facts, of convictions, of the freedom that rises and the solidarity with which it spreads. Internet is the most universal bearer of the truth. Internet has turned each citizen into a messenger of his truth; it’s the dynamo that allows every person who has access to the Net to stand up. Internet is the global power of information in the hands of the citizens. Democracy had never had such a free, responsible, eloquent and diligent servant.
What can we expect from some political or economic structures that are afraid of open information, of the transparency of truth?
…TO CHANGE THE ESSENCE AND NOT ONLY THE CIRCUMSTANCES.
The only thing we can expect and work for is the structural and deep changes, in order to materialize them in a country like ours. It’s not about putting new patches on the old structural fabric. It’s about changes in the essence and the conscience of society and the structures that it gives itself using a sovereign exercise of freedom and responsibility.
What to expect and build in Cuba this late on in the 21st century and at the moment of the 40 years of Internet?
- We expect to have a country where there would be no fear of the freedom of the citizens due to the existence of the political, economic and social structures that legalize, promote and defend the initiatives of all Cubans, men and women, without exclusions.
- We expect a country where there would be no fear of independent solidarity of citizens due to the existence of the political and economic structures that legalize, promote and defend the diverse, plural and inclusive civic religious, fraternal and cultural organizations in a multiform civil society where the empowerment of the citizens, women and men, may unblock the precise, capillary and community development of solidarity.
- We expect a country where there would be no fear of the truth that each man or woman carries inside; where there would be no fear of searching for the other part of the truth together with the other people due to the existence of the political and economic structures that legalize the spaces for searching, debating and spreading of the truth; due to the existence of the two wheels of the dynamic and multifaceted truth: the freedom of expression and the free access to information.
- We expect a country where there would be no fear of Internet, where the virtual sites may not be blocked, just like our sad doorways surrounded by bars are; a country where a person may not be beaten because he is a blogger; a country where some persons would not be threatened because they edit a magazine either virtual or printed. A country where the fact to have access to the Net of nets would not be a synonym of danger, a mercenary thing, a harm to the national sovereignty and independence or a serious danger to the national identity.
It is, at least pathetic, to listen to this in a world where the identity strengthens itself in the face to face debate with the hegemonic cultures; in a world where it has been universally demonstrated that the peoples, the minorities, the excluded ones, are the ones who would get more benefits if this Internet instrument were available to everybody.
How is it possible that in a system where they claim to be in favour of the most vulnerable ones, the access of ordinary citizens to the net of freedom, solidarity and communication is openly blocked?
“CONVIVENCIA” IS GOING TO BE TWO YEARS OLD.
Our digital magazine “CONVIVENCIA” is about to be two years old in this toil. We have tried to participate in this experience of citizen solidarity and sovereignty. We respect, admire and support the growing community of Cuban bloggers, women and men who are the contemporary continuators and stimulators of the heroic independent journalists who have always been here. “Convivencia” wishes to be like them: independent journalists and bloggers. Their service to Cuba and their love for it inspire us. We highly appreciate their informative and dynamic contribution.
With our bimonthly publication we wish to complement their irreplaceable service of urgent and daily information and communication. We use a more calmed tempo for the service to reflection and thought, which is also necessary to all Cubans, women and men from the Island and from the Diaspora; that is why we don’t see or feel any contradiction between what independent journalists, radio news journalists, the journalists from established agencies, publications from here and there and bloggers do and what we do; also the independent journalists who use other work instruments but who have the same sense of belonging to Cuba and solidarity with their brothers who use the most conventional means.
We have had, thank God, both experiences during the last 16 years, first and for a period of time, with a printed publication and now with a digital publication. That is why, maybe, we can understand, together with others, that there is no contradiction or disqualification; neither better nor worse format to perform a good journalism. Cuba wins with the complementation and the cooperating coexistence among all the diverse means of freedom of expression, the means to spread the truth and to exercise solidarity.
At the moment of being two years old, “Convivencia” invites all to share the service to Cuba, which is plural and one and this service should be done by placing in the first place the fraternal coexistence among all Cubans.
Pinar del Río. December 8th 2009