A Cuban Rafter Needed Money for an Engine, I Needed A Laptop... The Genesis of a Blog


Today in Italy the publisher Rizzoli is presenting a compilation of my posts entitled "Cuba Libre." I hope to be able to announce soon an edition in my own language. The book leads off with the beginning of Generation Y, which just now has passed its second anniversary, with 300 posts published between then and now. From the introduction:

It's April and there's not much to do, only to watch from the balcony and confirm that everything continues as in March and February. The Plaza de la Revolucion--a truncated lollipop that would frighten any child--dominates the concrete blocks in my neighborhood. Facing me, eighteen cement stories bear the sign of the Ministry of Agriculture. Its size is inversely proportional to the productivity of the land, so I look through my telescope at their empty offices and broken windows. Living in this "ministerial" zone allows me to interrogate the high buildings from which emerge the directives and resolutions for the whole country. I have a habit of aiming my lens and thinking, "They're watching me and so I, too, am watching them." From these inspections with my blue telescope, in truth I've taken very little, but an impression of inertia pierces the glass and slips through the concrete of my Yugoslav model building.

I look at those who go to the market with their empty shopping bags and many times return with them in the same state. I also have a plastic bag, but mine is always folded into a pocket so as not to advertise that I've been devoured by the machine of the line, the search for food, the chatting about whether the chicken came to the ration market... In the end, I have the same obsession to acquire something but I try not to be too obvious about it.

In my delusions of storytelling the vultures fly over the truncated lollipop and, while I ask myself how I will fill the bag, I arrive at the most dangerous idea I've had in my thirty-two years. My fit seems to be influenced by the madness of April, evident fruit of the unhealthy spring malaise. On the keyboard of my old laptop, sold to me six months ago by a rafter needing a Chevrolet engine, I begin to write. The journey of that apprentice Magellan was aborted, but the computer was already mine so there was no turning back. I start with something that's halfway between a shout and question, I don't even know this will be my first post, the first piece of a blog. The scene is simple, a weak woman without dreams has stopped watching, to begin to tell what she doesn't see reflected in the boring TV or in the ridiculous national newspapers.

Before starting my disillusioned vignettes of reality, the voice of apathy warns me that my writing would change nothing. The whisper of fear brings up my twelve-year-old son and the harm that the maternal catharsis may lead to in his future. I hear the voice of my mother who shouts at me, "Sweetheart, what's got into you?" And I anticipate the accusations of being infiltrated by the CIA or by State Security which will also come. The watchman behind my eyebrows rarely makes mistakes, but the madman who shares his space won't let me listen to him. So I begin to round out the first post and, with it in the bag, the unproductive high ministry and the raft floating in the Gulf come to the forefront.


Months after that first text, I will be faced with nearly three hundred thousand opinions left by readers, and will review the two hundred posts and the thousands of anecdotes to try to compress them into the pages of a book. Choderlos de Laclos would laugh at me, while I try to find the evolution of a commentator based on their own interventions, to report the wrath of some and show the zigzagging path I've followed myself. Epistolary novels have already given everything of themselves, but the web, its hypertext, hotspots, and interactivity have barely touched the literature. It's so difficult to cover all of this virtual world in the linearity of paper that I finally gave up trying. I only manage that in the log of the blog--which will be published some day--everyone will have their turn to say something: Generation Y, the blogger and the readers.