09 November 2009
Yoani Sánchez & two blokes nobody cares about
It is not enough to be a dissident blogger - if you want the support of the blogging community you have to be the right kind of dissident blogger as Kareem Amer from Egypt and the entertainingly nicknamed Uhuru Guro of South Africa can testify.
Unlike Cuba's Yoani Sánchez who is always writing about state harassment, the other two have genuinely experienced repression at first hand, but few people seem to care about their plights. Kareem is currently serving a four year prison sentence for his writings, and has a small support group based in the USA that tries to publicise his case. Uhuru Guro was recently arrested, held in detention for over a day, and is now trying to get his computers and disks returned by a state that regards his writings as beyond the pale.
Two factors seem to be in play here. Sánchez has the good fortune to live in a country that the USA is hostile towards. Cuba is in Washington's eye, and thus the eye of the American press. By way of contrast both Egypt and South Africa have good relations with the USA, so their predilection for banging up bloggers gets overlooked.
Secondly, both Uhuru and Kareem are just the wrong type of blogger for western liberals to support. The South African regards blacks as monkeys who swing from the trees, and Kareem seems to loathe Islam with a passion as this English translation of one of his postings demonstrates. Yoani Sánchez by way of contrast is a social liberal and economic conservative; put bluntly she says nice things about poofs and nasty things about the country's collectivist economic system.
The fact that Sánchez has been caught out telling lies doesn't seem to trouble her supporters in any way. She has claimed that she cannot blog from Cuba and has to text her postings to people outside the country who then upload her words to the blog. Alas, and to the chagrin of formerly sympathetic journalists who were in Cuba to attend a conference, she was photographed sitting happily in a hotel and updating her blog. Using an expensive Apple-Macintosh to boot - so much for her supposed poverty.
Sánchez has claimed recently that some state agents attacked her. Two versions of this tale are going the rounds, the first as given to the Miami Herald and which reports that she was attacked on the street, and the second on her blog and which reads like a John Birch Society wet dream. Interestingly enough, in spite of having claimed that she was beaten black and blue, no photograph of her injuries has been published.
The moral of all this is that it is not enough to be a dissident: you have to be the type of dissident that western liberals like. If you are then you can tell all the tall tales in the world and they will still support you. Not only that, but the likes of Time Magazine and the newspaper el Pais will shower you with awards. According to this Spanish blogger, el Pais has not mentioned Kareem once.
Both he and Uhuru Guru are just the wrong type of dissident.