Blogger Yusnaby Pérez Lays Bare the “Cuban Reality”
EspañolCuba may not have an independent conventional media, but it does have internet journalists and bloggers like Yusnaby Pérez. Although the world does not know his face, since he protects his identity for security reasons, Pérez has earned his spot among the must-read Cuban writers in a little less than year.
His brand of journalism does not parrot the government’s narrative, but is rather a reflection of what real Cubans are living: the stories the world wants to know.
On his blog, yusnaby.com, he explains in simple terms how the “revolution” is understood and experienced at the most basic and human level, and how the bombastic gestures of the Castro brothers have translated into a type of modern slavery for the Cuban people.
His stories of Cuban’s daily lives are news for the rest of the world. Armed with a phone and an internet connection using international roaming, Pérez is able to relay powerful images of life on the island. He does not do this for the art, or for fun. He believes he has a duty to share this with the world.
“The reality here must be disseminated. It’s time to destroy the myth of the Cuban revolution that has caused so much harm to Latin America,” he says in an interview with the PanAm Post.
How old are you? Where do you get your information from on the rest of the continent or the world?
I am 27 years old and was born in Havana. I’m currently living in downtown Havana. My information comes from access that I’ve gained in recent years [over the internet]. I have also talked to a great many people from all around the Americas.
Have you ever traveled outside of Cuba?
Yes, several times. I have been to some countries in Europe.
As a Cuban, how did you come to realize that daily life on the island would be newsworthy to the rest of the world?
Cubans are not completely divorced from reality. There is a lot of ignorance and misinformation, but the majority have an idea of what is going on outside the country. In my case, leaving Cuba and seeing other parts of the world, enabled me to compare my prior thoughts with reality. Once I went back to the island, what previously had not seemed very shocking to me now did.
Do restrictions like the “ration book” continue to be a bother for Cubans, or have the people become use to it?
More than a bother, the book is useless; it does not even remotely solve the hunger problem in Cuba.
People are as used to the ration book as they are to life in the black market.
How has the black market evolved in Cuba?
The black market in Cuba keeps people from starving. You can find everything you can imagine and at cheaper prices. However, the recent customs regulations drastically restrict imports for commercial reasons, so prices are climbing again.
Many countries in the region are suffering the same evil, because they ignore the reality of Cuba.
Where did the idea for your blog come from? When did you write your first post?
When I returned from Europe, I became overwhelmed with ideas about liberty. Being back in Cuba, I started feeling imprisoned. Twitter helped me to unburden myself of the things I had to say. After that, I started the blog, because 140 characters were not enough to explain the complex reality of Cuba.
I wrote my first article about elections in Cuba in January 2013. I like to tell everyday stories, like Roberto’s, the Chavista who came to Cuba to retrieve dollars from his Cadivi quota — the kind of stories that you’d never see in my country’s official press. In Cuba, blogs are gaining traction nowadays, and for many they are an alternative source of information to the government’s insipid media.
How do you find your stories?
The stories come to me; I don’t look for them. They show up in my everyday life, in my routine. Cuba is a country with thousands of stories like these, and there is always something new and amazing to tell. It’s not that hard! I use almost all of my free time on the blog and on social networks. I’ve already made kind of a commitment to the world.
How do you receive the donations that help fund your blog? How can people donate?
I can only afford the internet roaming service in Cuba thanks to donations. This allows me to always be online. A friend in Spain helps me with the banking process, and he pays the phone bills there. To donate you just need to go to yusnaby.com/donar and follow the steps.
Fifteen years ago, we were telling Venezuelans what life in Cuba was like and the consequences of the regime. At the time, many said we were either exaggerating or lying.
What is your message to Venezuelans who now see their own country gradually suffering the same problems that Cuba has experienced?
Fifteen years ago, we were telling Venezuelans what life in Cuba was like and the consequences of the regime. At the time, many said we were either exaggerating or lying. Today, unfortunately, they are living the same reality and all the crazy disasters that are difficult to explain. Venezuelans today have a slightly better understanding of the Cuban people.
I say to Venezuela: don’t give up; there still is a solution. The evil has not yet spread throughout the entire country. The time for change is now. I also want to ask them, from the heart, to never become accustomed to the regime. Dictatorships thrive when people are submissive.
What does Cuba need from the international community?
Cuba needs to be heard. The reality here must be disseminated. It’s time to destroy the myth of the Cuban revolution that has caused so much harm to Latin America. Many countries in the region — Venezuela, Argentina, Bolivia, and Ecuador — are suffering, because they ignore the reality of Cuba.