As the title suggests, I wasn’t surfing. Obviously, that’s surface and quick: a cool glide. I do that, but mostly I poke around. It’s somewhat haphazard, but it isn’t a ride. I stop constantly and I probe. Curiosity is one of the life forces: the simple impulse, desire, need to know. Were the earth and its environs at some stage of being sucked into a black hole (any astrophysicists out there who can speculate on the likelihood – not to put too fine a point on it – in my lifetime?) there would, to the very last possible moment, be scientists maintaining a grip while observing and measuring the phenomenon. I would be Richard Dreyfuss gazing up, eyes like white diamonds, at approaching oblivion. Even though everything learned would be lost in the instant.
Curiosity. It fills the time.
So I was poking around some Latin American blogs I’d been meaning to check out – I read some already, and these had been referrals – when I stopped in at Along the Malecón. It has lots of photos, and I’ve been to Cuba. I wrote a poem from my experience. The Malecón of the blog title is the Havana sea wall that lines the Caribbean, overlooked by the crumbling facades of Neo-Classical and Moorish buildings. A stroll along el Malecón, where old Chevys pass and a breaking wave may crash hugely over the wall and soak you, can evoke all of the complex history, music, and romance of the city.
The post I focused on was about a staged street contretemps involving Cuban journalist Reinaldo Escobar and a mob of Castro supporters who swarmed and jostled him. Escobar is the wife of blogger Yoani Sánchez, of the blog Generation Y, and who sometimes appears on HuffPo. Sanchez is a preeminent Cuban dissident who has been cited for distinction and won several awards, including, most recently, the Columbia University School of Journalism’s “Marie Moors Cabot Prize,” for which the Cuban government refused Sanchez a travel visa to New York to accept the award. Recently, Sanchez posed on her blog a series of questions to both Raul Castro and President Obama. Obama has answered them.
The author of the blog is reporter and teacher Tracey Eaton, who spent five years in Cuba as Havana Bureau Chief for the Dallas Morning News, and he reported on the Escobar incident professionally and objectively. I found the first, at that point only, comment to the post curious. It seemed to suggest, in a slippery, backdoor way that Cubans actually have greater redress for their grievances than do the people of any other nation. (My goodness! What have the last fifty years been about? ¡Un qué error!) Then the anonymous commenter stated that Sanchez and other “dissidents” (the commenter’s quotation marks) were not what they appeared to be. Why not and what they were the identityless commenter did not say. You can read my comment in response, calling the earlier commenter out.
Sometime later in the day, Eaton himself commented, blandly thanking the first commenter and writing, “It is true that we hold Cuba up to impossible standards sometimes. We put Cuba under a microscope and somehow expect it to shine all of the time.”
Second stage curiosity now kicked in. “Impossible standards”? Like freedom and democracy? I didn’t know those were impossible standards. Again, what conflicts could have been avoided.
I returned to my work, while soothing the sting of this pointed disregard of my own comment (I am very sensitive) with curious rumination. Then two more comments came in, form a third commenter, the essence of which is captured herein:
Yoani and Escobar…are creations of the American (anti-Cuba) capitalist news media and receive support and encouragement from the gusanos in Miami and from the Yankee imperialist government, as Obama has demostrated with his stupid “answer” to questions submitted by this sensation and publicity seeking bloguera.
This was followed by another “thanks for the comments” from Eaton.
What was I, chopped liver? No polite little thank you for my brave contribution?
Now, I’m really curious. I do some more of that poking about, regarding Eaton, and can find nothing but his very professional reporting on Cuba. I even come across a final, personal piece he wrote near the end of his Dallas Morning News tenure, looking back on his experiences in Cuba. The piece reflects, again, a kind of bland unwillingness to reach conclusions about experience that I sometimes find in reporters who have so trained themselves not to form opinions. Other than that, I can find nothing to account for the imbalance in thank yous, or the thank yous at all. Was it me? Should I have railed against gusanos and imperialists and publicity seeking blogueras?
And then another comment arrived in my mailbox, from Leftside (okay, now we’re at least clear), who thinks Sanchez a foreign agent (a subject to which I’ll return at another time), and who writes of Sanchez’s own detention by police, “We can argue whether any injuries were the result of Yoani’s own resistance to the detention, or the aggressive action of taking a piece of paper from the security officials and putting it in her mouth.”
That’s some “aggressive action.” I’da beat the living daylights out of her with a hose, and no doubt the dead in Iran shot themselves, through the aggressive action of resisting the theft of their electoral process.
Anyway, can you see it coming?
“Leftside, Thanks for your comments….:
Well, now I’m so curious, I can’t stop scratching myself. I have written Eaton and asked him if he would like to respond. I’ll let you know.
Tracey Eaton, after my contacting him to offer an opportunity to respond, has left a comment – thanking me for the comment on his blog. Hmn.
Back after the Thanksgiving weekend with The Open Mind III: Judgment Day.
Photography by Julia Dean