Cuba: Return Prohibited for U.S. Professor and Blogger

Ted Henken, professor at Baruch College at the City University of New York (CUNY), a well-versed blogger in the Cuban blogosphere, has been informed by authorities from the Department of Security of the State of Cuba that he will not be returning to the island [es].

Over the course of his 12 day stay, Henken interviewed over 40 bloggers for an investigation about blogs and the Internet in Cuba, findings which circulated in real time through his blog, El Yuma [es].  Working out of pocket, prostitution and following the recently concluded VI Congress of the Cuban Communist Party were among the issues tackled in “El Yuma,” topics widely represented in the national and foreign press.

Ted Henken's blog "El Yuma."

Henken also met with bloggers of all political backgrounds and informal groups.  Bloggers Cuba, La Joven Cuba [es], Havana Times and Voces Cubanas [es] were among the digital communities that captured his attention.  Some of the bloggers talked about the meeting with the professor as well.  According to the authors of La Joven Cuba [es]:

[…] hubo diferencias de opiniones, diferencias ideológicas y de perspectiva, pero siempre en un ambiente de respeto y donde primó escuchar más que convencer al interlocutor […]

[…] there were differences of opinion, differences in ideologies and perspectives, but always in an atmosphere of respect, where listening took priority over convincing the speaker of something […]

During his meeting with the officials in the José Martí Airport, Henken said that they questioned him on whether he had the authorization to conduct interviews in Cuba.  “All of the individuals with whom I spoke gave me their personal permission,” he responded to this author via personal communication.  Twitter and Facebook profiles, as well as the interviewees’ blogs, confirmed his answer.

State officials questioned him along with the completed interviews with anti-governmental blogs, known on the island as “mercenaries” and “counterrevolutionaries,” as well as his meeting with Yoani Sánchez [es].

Last March, Ted Henken organized a panel about blogs at the “Cuba Futures” Symposium, organized by the Bildner Center of the City University of New York.  Important academics and economic analysts residing on the island, including Carlos Alzugaray and Pavel Vidal, participated in the various commissions at this event.

Former U.S. President James Carter also attended during his three-day visit on the island on March 30 of last year, alongside representatives of the Cuban dissidence with government approval.

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