With a circus as the scene, with painted faces and shrill voices, some weighty official cartoons, until recently, represented several figures from the Cuban opposition and independent journalism. That was a time when internet access from the Island was so limited that social networks were crowded with profiles from State Security. Its presence has barely diminished, but now we are there too.
For more than a decade and with total impunity, the soldiers of the web denigrated activists, created false accounts to try to destroy the prestige of dissidents and launched a fierce fight against bloggers who were not under the control of the Plaza of the Revolution. Everything was allowed. They also launched a misogynistic attack that promoted an obvious threat against the family of the slandered or revealed intimate details to make them more vulnerable.
I don’t recall from those years, between 2007 and the beginning of 2019, that those of us attacked could engage in any type of legal process to clean our reputation or to uncover those who launched these defamations, but I do have a memory that most of the time such vileness only made us smile, accustomed as we are to the system’s propaganda machine. At the end of the day, even as negative as they were, those public attacks were excellent free publicity to publicize our work within and outside national borders. Nothing is more attractive than the prohibited.
Now, and since the arrival of internet access on mobile phones, we residents of the Island have been able to get closer — despite censorship and high prices — to a much more vast informational scene; we have been able to publish our complaints more immediately and we have not lacked humor as a tool for political criticism that emerges from Cuba or from the exile community. Dozens of parody accounts of Cuban officials have appeared and the overreaction has not been long in coming.
Where we smile at those furious attacks orchestrated by the institutions themselves, those ridiculed today rage and point to a campaign “from the empire” that tries to “destroy the image” of public officials. Their skin is as thin as the outer layer of those onions that for months now have disappeared from national markets. Faced with any questioning, meme or joke against them, they launch their cyber-combatants and cry out for international solidarity to confront the “harassment on the networks.”
They conveniently forget that it was they who incubated and gave life to the unstoppable Cuban monster of the execution of reputation through the internet. A creature that has now ended up digging its teeth into their own jugular.
*The following is an excerpt from the Cuban government website Somos Continuidad (We are Continuity): [This phrase] is not an empty hashtag. In it is the essence of a renewed government that stands on the blood of its heroes…