"[I] almost fell out of my chair when I first read Potro Salvaje [a new Cuba-based blog dedicated to helping Cubans circumvent the regime's censorship of the internet]. I was overwhelmed with emotion and was literally reading it through tears. Folks, this is what it's all about. This is what we've all been working towards. This is the fruit of all the hours and hours of reading and writing and posting and publishing. This makes all the anger and frustrations slide right off and into oblivion. While Potro Slavaje [sic] may not be a direct result of all the work here on this humble blog and our excellent Cubiche bloggers, if anyone would have asked me five years ago when this humble blog posted its first entries that there would be not only numerous blogs emanating from Cuba but one specifically dedicated to helping other Cubans on the island find their voices and express their opinions on the net, I would have scoffed at such a seemingly ridiculous statement. But here we are and here is Potro Salvaje. Perhaps all we blog Davids will, in fact, help slay the castro Goliath." -- Val Prieto," El Resolver Cibernetico," Babalú, March 12, 2008
Val is a naturally (and extra-naturally) emotional guy who wears his feelings on his sleeve and is likely to fly that sleeve as a flag whenever the occasion presents itself, so perhaps we should not dismiss all this hyperbole as canned. Because it sounds insincere does not necessarily mean that he is. Perhaps his heart, like the Grinch's, has grown three sizes this day, and he no longer wishes to render all Cubans in a pressure cooker as of old but wants to buy them all a pan con bistec sandwich (figuratively, of course). We can certainly hope so, not for their sake but his.
What is not so becoming, however, but wholly predictable is his attempt to take personal credit for this development which he admits that he did not envisage but which he believes is the fortuitous product of his five years of blogging, "the fruit of all the hours and hours of reading and writing and posting and publishing." This is the foreshortened version of Val's well-known mantra of self-sacrifice. Before I took him to task for it, it used to include also mysterious midnight calls and dead chickens left in his front lawn. Yes, Val admits that Potre Salvaje "may not be a direct result of all the work here on this humble blog." That is, it "may not be," but, in his not-so-humble opinion, is; for else why even mention his sacrifices and not those of the Cubans actually risking their lives and freedom to open a line of communications among themselves and the outside world?
What happens on the island happens in situ. However flattering it may be to convince ourselves that we are shaping public opinion in Cuba, the fact remains that we are not and cannot while accessing the internet remains the equivalent of eating a steak there. The existence of Potre Salvaje only reminds us of how limited and besieged is this new technology in Cuba. The challenges facing Cuban bloggers go much beyond "all the hours and hours of reading and writing" which no doubt extract a high intellectual price from Val, or even the psychological price he pays from those mysterious midnight calls and those dead chickens on his lawn.
It would greatly help Val if he stopped referring to Babalú as his "humble blog" and started practicing some humility himself.
In his own post on the subject, Henry agrees (with Val) that Val is the father of the Cybernetic Revolution in Cuba:
"I remember a few years back I was reading the Sun-Sentinel and they had a story about some Cuban guy with something called a “blog” [Henry didn't know what a "blog" was until 3 years ago?] that was taking on “The Burlington Coat Factory” because they were marketing the “Revolution®” brand in the form of Che T-shirts for babies. That’s how I discovered Babalú. What really struck me back then was that the Cuban blogger, Val, was fighting an information war reaching people all over the globe with the truth. He won that scrimmage with The Burlington Coat Factory. The information war continues."
Yes, it continues but Val is not the general leading it, not here or in Cuba.