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Cuba: Interview with Blogger Lizabal Mónica

In 2007, Cuban writer Lizabel Mónica started blogging about the Book Fair about recent works that she felt were important to showcase. Even though her concept of blogging was still closely tied with the concept of the print, she admits that her first few posts were too long and full of news. However, since then she has become quite comfortable with the use of blogs as a tool of communication and she currently publishes on three different blogs. Most of these blogs are closely associated with Cuban art, literature and culture. She summarizes her outlook on blogs in this manner, “Blogs are related with my way of looking at art, literature, but above all and this is the best part of the blogging phenomenon: confuse the life that we recount, with the life that we live in reality.”

Photo of Lizabel Mónica and used with permission.

Photo of Lizabel Mónica and used with permission.

Her first blog palaDeOinDeleite [es] is also her personal blog and focused on Cuban art, literature, politics, and society. It has evolved into a place to showcase other cultural projects on the island. A second blog is called Cuba Fake News [es]. This site, as the name states, provides bilingual “fake news” about Cuba and receives contributions from a variety of authors.

Mónica's third blog is Project Deliz [es], which provides information about the cultural project, which aims to “build bridges between literature and national and international art, as well as to explore the relationship between art and life.” On the blog, one can also download a copy of the multi-media magazine.

The following is an excerpt of an interview conducted with Mónica about her projects and her participation in the Cuban blogosphere:

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Claudia Cadelo: Tell me a little about the Project Desliz

Lizbal Mónica: It is an open project. Everyone who wants to participate can form a part of the project participating as much as they want. Desliz is an inclusive project, which uses the dynamism of social networking, and our page continues to add and subtract participants. Desliz is not a ghetto, but rather a reason, so that everyone who joins this purpose and participates in the activities is a part of the project. What is its purpose? To build bridges: spread the national culture and promote dialogue between Cuban writers and artists who live on the island and those who have emigrated; bring artists that we know to the national scene; promote cultural dialogue on a national level; explore the concepts of each genre or area, and the concepts of art and literature in general. Those are some of our goals. Another, more obvious: to make culture, which is archaic, more dynamic and which often does not know its own potential.

CC: Your blogs and your digital magazine Desliz are a possibility for artists and writers to access the virtual world in Cuba. Could you talk a little about your goals of using technology for artistic promotion?

LM: Writers, artists and professionals in general should have access to the Internet, but it is more important that everyone who wants access receives it, regardless of their job or position, and even if they work or don't work for society. The opinion and participation of all is important and that is what it is all about. What happens in Cuba is a superiority prejudice of Saint-Simonianism.

Project Desliz provides a specific function with the artists, but our interest is to carry out, in the near future, something similar with the common citizen. There are two prejudices in Cuba regarding the participation or presence of an individual or group on the Internet: they are either artists or independent journalists – that they start a blog to make criticism to society and/or to the government. In this manner, the vicious circles of an authoritarian government continues to turn. One of things we understand is that our country needs that the individual take the reigns of his or her own life, not under an ideology or respectable labor, but simply in the name of one's own interests, whatever they may be. Cuba lacks a civil society, and this is one of the best ways to help create one.

CC: You are starting a project to support artists so that they can create blogs and have an online presence. How is it going?

LM: Now I am working on some artistic projects and with artists who want to have an independent presence online. They also bring a lot of good ideas with them. Due to the fact that the Internet is prohibited except for some State workers, it is very expensive – the price of an “underground” account is the same as housing rent -, and the work becomes much slower than what is would be without these other conditions. Many of these artists do not have Internet, and some do not even have their own email accounts, for that reason we use our own account, limited by hours per month – using the excess hours is too expensive and we cannot afford it – for the creation of these blogs, once they are created, we help them maintain them. None of these blogs are online yet, but we just started, and soon you will be able to see the results.

CC: Do you have faith in the Cuban blogosphere? How do you feel a part of it?

I have faith in how we can develop through it. I hope that it continues to diversify, even though the voices go out of tune. There are different views, and listen to how we differ from one another, which is something that my blog Desliz tries to do. I am pleased with the start of citizen activism that can count on key characteristics like inclusion, which is by (predetermined) default with the language and the logic of the Internet, and the start of a constant change to the structures or better yet, the absence of defined structures. I count on it.

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  • What a wonderful interview. It is interesting to see how Cuba’s blogosphere is so focused on inclusion, expression, and discussion. You don’t see the same focus on gadgetry and celebrities that, in my opinion, has taken over more mature blogospheres. I’m interested to see how the Cuban blogosphere evolves over the years. Thanks for pointing us to Lizabel’s blogs.

  • Is there a way to contact Lizabal Monica as I am interested in developing and artist exchange with artists from Boston and artists from Cuba?

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