Friday, April 30, 2010

Yoani Sanchez' response to Salim Lamrani's interview

I don’t enjoy going through life defending myself against attacks, perhaps because I have spent most of it in the crossfire of criticism. I’ve learned that at times it is better to digest the insult and move on, because denigration sullies the one who does it more than the victim. Everything, however, has its limits. It is a very different thing to put words in my mouth that I did not say, as has happened with the interview published by Salim Lamrani in RebeliĆ³n. As I started to read it I didn’t note much distortion, but by the second part I couldn’t recognize myself. It’s true that in the introduction he tries to generate an aversion for me in his readers, but it is the right of any interviewer to describe how he sees the object of his questions.

The big surprise has been noted, in the way in which he presents the text: enormous omissions, distortions and even invented phrases attributed to me. It would have been just another attempt, among many thousands, to attribute to me positions I don’t share and declarations I never made, if it weren’t for the fact that the official Cuban media was prepared to quickly echo the rearranged interview. Yesterday, when I saw the presenter of the most boring program on official television refer, without ever mentioning my name, to a series of questions that had “stripped me naked,” I began to understand everything. The reason for the adulteration was not haste in transcription nor the desire of the journalist to prove his hypothesis at all cost, even distorting the words of the interviewee to do so. Something major is brewing with this semi-apocryphal text, and I now make a stop along the way in my blog to warn of it.

I have a very vivid memory of that afternoon almost three months ago - curiously Mr. Lamrani has waited all this time to publish our conversation - and of the words we exchanged. I remember his stereotypical questions, at times uninformed about our reality, and with very little resemblance to those, as documented, that he has reworked to appear to be a specialist. I would not characterize myself as one who responds in monosyllables, and I had a hard time finding myself among so much parsimony. As our interchange at the Hotel Plaza advanced, I could sense the sympathy he had for my position growing. In the end, I felt that all the barriers had fallen and he understood that we were not opponents, simply people who saw the same phenomena from different viewpoints. A final hug on his part confirmed it. But, evidently, his discipline for “the cause” was stronger than his journalistic ethics, and the professor from the Sorbonne ended up - visibly in the second part of the interview - falsifying my voice. On his painfully hip iPhone my moderate phrases must have been like a computer virus, eating away at the stereotypes, a call to end the confrontation that people like him prefer to feed.

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