by Rina Brundu. Gordiano Lupi, Italian writer and publisher, has been for several years the Italian translator of the Spanish language blog Generation Y, a blog owned by a Cuban dissident of Castro politics, Yoani Sanchez. Following their recent artistic break up – I have asked Gordiano a few questions about the actual motives that led their friendship to such an unhappy end as well as about the political status quo of modern Cuba.
Q: Speaking quite frankly, the actual definition of political dissident is as follows: “A person who opposes official policy, especially that of an authoritarian state”. Taking into account the extreme freedom of movement which seems to be granted to Mrs Yoani (I’m thinking for example of the recent trip to Italy, diva style), I cannot but wonder: is this so because the Castro dictatorship has actually turned into a velvet one, or because the new digital “opposition” boasted by Mrs Yoani is not actually so?
A: First of all allow me to say that I have never given much publicity to this story. As far as I am concerned I simply wrote an article to distance myself from Yoani’s current positions. My article was published in the same digital magazine where I “discovered” her seven years ago. Subsequently I have written a few notes of clarification which were copied by many journalists and published in several newspapers, each of them outlining the aspects of the story that would better backup their political views.
As far as I am concerned I would like to state once and for all that Yoani could be considered a victim of Castro’s persecution (even if always a sort of velvet-one), only at the time of the carta blanca policy which required Cubans to receive government permission to travel from their country. Nowadays Cuban citizens only need a passport and a visa from a destination country in order to travel abroad. As a consequence the behaviour of this blogger is becoming somewhat bizarre. She travels from Avana to Miami and from Avana to Madrid… She is often seen in pictures together with dissidents and politicians of different sorts, she dines with Andy Garcia and she strongly criticizes publicly the Cuban government. She calls herself a victim of persecution and, yet, thanks be to God, she can return home safe and sound. Has Cuba finally turned into a democratic country? Is Yoani a mere government puppet? Yoani cannot be touched for reasons of which we do not know of? I do not have an answer to these questions I only know that other dissidents cannot say about their governments the same things Yoani says about the Cuban government and enjoy the same freedom of movement…
Q: Why did you decide to translate Yoani’s blog into Italian in the first place? Were you hoping to bath in reflected artistic and civil rights’ glory?
A: Certainly not! I chose to translate her blog because I thought I had come across a real champion of freedom for Cuba, some sort of people’s digital heroin capable of fighting for justice in her own country and ready to do so for idealistic reasons only. In other words I wanted to believe in this modern David and Goliath fairytale where a young unknown blogger could actually launch her challenge to a brutal dictatorship. Was I naive? Possibly, but I am proud of that.
Q: Which has being the greatest contribution made by Yoani and her online activities to the freedom-to-Cuba battle?
A: There’s no doubt that Yoani hit where it hurt and still hurts… During the first five years of her activity she wrote many interesting things in her blog. She exposed the lack of minimal freedom and human rights in Cuba. On the contrary, it is one year now that she does not manage to produce anything valid and I wrote about it in multiple occasions…
Q: What does it mean to be an opponent of Castroist politics nowadays? Does it still make sense to speak of dissidence and to be against Castroism?
A: It never makes sense to be against something: we need to build something that is new, we do not need to cancel the past. We need to build on the many good things we have done, and we need to secure as many of them as possible. I used to like Yoani when she would write: “I am not against Castro. I am not a dissident. I am only a citizen who speaks up”. In time, something has changed. She began meeting political dissidents and she started calling herself a dissident. As far as I am concerned it is this change that marked the beginning of the end old Yoani…
Q: How do you intend to continue your civil commitment for Cuba from today onwards? To which of the many hidden Cuban “voices” would you like to give more visibility?
A: I never stopped giving visibility to the hidden voices of Cuba particularly within the many books about that country that I wrote from 1998 to date. I have also translated many Cuban writers…. I’ve left Yoany but I am not ditching Cuba. On the contrary, thanks to this painful decision I can now embrace my real Cuba once again, which is the same Cuba of Alejandro Torreguitart, Guillermo Cabrera Infante, William Navarrete, Felix Luis Viera, Wendy Guerra, Heberto Padilla, Virgilio Piñera… and many others. All of them authors whose works deserve to be translated and appreciated by Italian readers.
Featured image, Castro (far left), Che Guevara (center), and other leading revolutionaries, marching through the streets in protest at the La Coubre explosion, 5 March 1960.
Second image, Castro (right) with fellow revolutionary Camilo Cienfuegos entering Havana on January 8, 1959.