Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Cuba: Interview with Blogger Reinaldo Escobar

Monday, February 16th, 2009 @ 16:12 UTC
by Claudia Cadelo

ExcerptCuban blogger Reinaldo Escobar is one of the few bloggers that has worked professionally as a journalist with official Cuban media. Now he is an independent journalist and runs the portal Desde Cuba, which is also where his blog Desde Aquí is hosted. He is also very active in the Cuban blogosphere and is part of the team that will launch the project Cuban Voices. In this interview, Claudia Cadelo asks about his start with blogging and his thoughts on a blogosphere that is often polarized.

Cuban blogger Reinaldo Escobar was born in 1947 in Camagüey, and graduated with a degree in journalism from Havana University in 1971. He is one of the few bloggers that has worked professionally as a journalist: first in the magazine “Cuba” up until 1987. Here during this work, he was able to travel and visit practically all of the Cuban municipalities where he wrote about many different topics. He later joined the staff of the newspaper “Juventud Rebelde,” (Rebel Youth) where he was later expelled in December of 1988 for what he calls writing with “youthful rebellion.”
Photo by Cuban photographer Claudio Fuentes and used with permission

Now he is an independent journalist and celebrates his firing from the newspaper, together with his wife, Yoani Sánchez of Generación Y [es], whom he met in 1993. From here in 2004, he became editor of the magazine “Consenso” which eventually became the portal Desde Cuba [es], which is is also where his blog Desde Aquí [es] is hosted. He is also very active in the Cuban blogosphere and will be on the jury for the blogging contest called “A Virtual Island [es],” gives presentations during the blogger gatherings, and is part of the team that is preparing to launch the project “Cuban Voices [es],” where to date, 8 bloggers will have their blogs hosted and which will be inaugurated soon. For Escobar, blogging allows him to write about those topics that come to mind, but where he cannot find a space in official Cuban media. Here is a short interview about his interest with blogging.

Claudia Cadelo: How did you start with blogging?

Reinaldo Escobar: In 1994, I touched a computer for the first time, so I arrived late to using technology. Thanks to Yoani Sánchez, author of the blog Generación Y [es], my partner for the past 15 years, she introduced me to this new form of expressing ideas called a blog. She taught me and motivated me, and she still pushes me when I don't write in my blog for more than one week.

CC: What do you see is the value in blogs?

RE: I think one finds an elevated level of freedoms in blogs, and people can aspire to it when they wants to express themselves. Whether or not it is journalism, will be a discussion for the future. It is like the debate whether or not acupuncture is medicine, whether or not chess is a sport, or whether or not yoga is a religion. These phenomena emerge and acquire their own identity, independent of definitions and labels given to them.

CC: What are your thoughts on a blogosphere that is often polarized?

RE: Now, I have chosen moderation, which is not synonymous with cowardice or conservatism. Sometimes, I write incendiary words and I have the urge to insult and discredit, especially with those who insult and discredit others as if it were their job, most of them are opportunist and.. . (see, it does not take much to fall into temptation), but I contain myself. Even though I prefer not to belong to any political organization, I believe that I have a commitment, a citizen's obligation to my country and its future. I enjoy the characteristic (for some it is a defect, and for others a virtue) of not remaining quiet when I sense that it is necessary to say something. I am that person that tells the passerby that their shoe is untied, that signals a driver when he or she drives with their lights on during daytime. Whey should I remain silent when I have the feeling that my children's future is in danger? I don't feel like a hero or anything else. I chose the risks of responsibility, before brave imprudence or indifferent comfort.

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