Cuba 21 is an entirely new concept and approach to blogging at least in the Cuban-American blogosphere. I am at a lost as to what to call it. "Soapbox blogging" would be good except that it connotes a certain spontaneous but at the same time fractured intensity of which this well-written and integral blog gives no evidence. The concept, if not the product, is similar, however. Readers of Cuba 21 are invited to become its authors. It solicits contributions from other bloggers whether reprints or original articles, specifying that it even welcomes those that plug other blogs. Now, I can think of nothing more rife for abuse; and yet, it appears, that no contributor has misused thus far the generous hospitality extended to him.
Its mission statement is "[To] unite all Cubans, inside and outside Cuba, whether of the right or the left." Here, again, we also must pause. Unity for the sake of unity is meaningless. Unity requires a purpose just as love requires an object. If that purpose is the liberation of Cuba, then I am all for unity. If the purpose is to show how Cubans can be tolerant of one another's opinions, how the dissident can co-exist in harmony with the henchman, the anti-Castro exile with the pro-Castro apologist, then no. Such "unity" is divisive and intended to destroy unity, not foment it. The truth cannot be assimilated with lies. When it is thus corrupted, it ceases to be truth. Men, likewise, who are upholders of truth, cannot make common cause with those who are its enemies without themselves being corrupted. Historia de Cuba.
And yet, remarkably, although there is one contributor to Cuba 21 who is altogether too obsequious to Raúl and actually seems to believe that he intends to redeem the Revolution by doing what Fidel promised to do but did not, all of its contributors, including that deluded individual, acknowledge that the last 49 years have meant nothing but misery for the Cuban people.
Again, I am perplexed as to why the Castro apologists have not made a concerted attack upon it, as one would expect them to do when they have been practically invited to do so. For whatever reason -- and I suspect that some have been repelled, openness or not -- Cuba 21 remains essentially an anti-Castro blog. Its diversity is confined to its Blogroll which includes blogs from all currents of opinion, including the most rabidly pro-Castro. Even this I will not object to because one must know what the enemy is thinking in order to be able to combat him. Personally, I am content that others should inform themselves on the subject and acknowledge no obligation to promote their propaganda. Still, I have no problem with others doing so since their propaganda is also a self-indictment which only the biggest idiots would be unable to see through.
The most interesting aspect of Cuba 21 are its excellent historical vignettes modelled on Havana 50/60, which I have always said is the best Cuban-American blog. It is not an easy formula to copy. You must combine your personal recollection of a specific site in Cuba with historical background and evocative photographs to create an ambiance of a time and place which exists only in our memory. I suppose that for some it is an emotional catharsis. I would not try it myself because such an experiment is certain to leave one feeling emptier inside, more alone and isolated from your past even as one tries to ford a new approach to it. The experience of exile itself, without the necessity of picking at wounds, does the same thing everyday without any special effort on our part. That much said, it is enjoyable to read the recollections of others. Yes, it re-awakens memories of our own but through the prism of another's experience and at a certain remove which makes the reading of such recollections more bearable. There is a wonderful evocation of Maceo's statue and its environs up at Cuba 21 right now which I commend to your reading pleasure.
Cuba 21 also contains news and videos which I have not seem duplicated anywhere else. Of special interest is an interview of Cuba's major dissidents as conducted and aired by Cuban State Television. They were ambushed in the worst Mike Wallace fashion except that being libelled was the least of their concerns. Naturally, they never knew whether they were actually being interviewed for television or if this was just a ruse to elicit their opinions for other purposes. They were all understandibly nervous and very cautious as they had every reason to be since the interviews were taped for a program on the regime's recent allegations that dissidents in Cuba are controlled and bankrolled by the U.S. The blogger who presented the video chastises the dissidents for their performance on the video and recommends that they prepare themselves better in the future. This is the same thing as criticizing someone for not making sufficient accommodations for the pink elephant that just dropped from the sky at his feet. I have no doubt that next time Cuban television besieges them, they will be better prepared and acquit themselves more to that blogger's satisfaction because it shall no longer be something at variance with all their experience.
There is one final thing about this blog which I have withheld and will allow you to discover for yourselves. Let me just say that some people are at every party and funeral.