The failure of phony readers
We barely notice just how bad a job the dictatorship's political police are doing in their attempts to exploit falsified reader opinions to discredit the work of journalists dedicated to disclosing the reality in Cuba. Just as it has always found it expedient to infiltrate agents in or recruit informants from amongst the opposition, they really botch it in the case of phony readers, whether of this newspaper or others, because there's not a single one of these wolves whose sheepskin cannot be spotted from a mile away, as grandmother might say.
Perhaps this happens because in Cuba there is no clearer democratic exercise than that which our readers engage in by publishing their opinions, whether astute or simple, passionate or nasty, radical or fair-minded, audacious, conservative, opportune or untimely.
Joseph Conrad, the great Polish novelist, said that he wrote half of his books, and his readers took care of the other half. Maybe we who write for these publications could claim something similar. Not only because we are forced to think, above all, like readers, and to approach the issues in accordance with certain priorities as regards content. But also, because we are dependent upon a readership that looks to us as a vehicle for the examination and condemnation of their woes, we always fear not meeting their expectations.
The case is, then, that we who work here actually exhibit a greater tempering of our passions and self-censorship than those who read and judge us. But this is not a bad thing. It is what we ought to do, for the common good.
Similar may be our contribution to the rapid discovery of phony readers, who are growing in number and taking on ever more manifest forms, but always in vain; from those who seek to seem impartial, but don't squander any chance to convey their complicity with the regime, or their condescension; to those who accuse the writer of being an undercover agent, with the underhanded aim of sowing confusion and masking the nature of their work as agents. There are those who purport to be unprejudiced citizens of the First World, with the furtive intention of appearing more credible in their roles as moles, to alleged nihilists who believe in nothing, not even the arguments of those who oppose the dictatorship. It is, in short, a contingent made up of thousands of minions, who do not necessarily need to be employees of the State's security forces - though many of them are.
And there is only one reason why this riff-raff of phony readers has failed to make their presence felt amongst us: the response of our genuine readers, whose shrewdness and zeal may often be excessive, but is never wanting.
As for the columnists, it may of lesser importance (at least to me) that some of these real readers question the value of a text without having read it all, or when, having read it, they fixate on a single phrase or assertion (frequently the least fortunate) to judge all of our work. Rectification is almost invariably provided by some other well-informed and judicious reader. But, in any case, such excesses are more than offset by the opinions of those who challenge, and even spur us to question, certain truths we ourselves may have considered unassailable.