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Posted December 11, 2007 by publisher in Cuban Culture

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In a country where the media is completely state-owned, this young Cuban blogger is extremely brave. In this post, she talks about the release of the Academy Award-winning German film, ‘The Lives of Others’. Set in Communist East Germany in the mid-1980s, the film tells the story of a Stasi agent assigned to monitor an East-German playwright suspected of subversive intellectual pursuits. The film details the alarming efficiency of the East German snooping machinery, including bugs planted in apartments and around-the-clock monitoring of a suspect’s private life.

But for Yoani, the film is not so much about ‘the lives of others’ as it is the lives of people she knows - as well as her own - in Castro’s Cuba.

I took this photo last Saturday in the queue to see the premier of ‘The Lives of Others’ at the Acapulco cinema. I don’t think the cinema had ever such a commotion. The people outside were shouting ‘open up!’ at the closed doors. The film was released as part of the South American New Cinema Festival. The storyline wasn’t far from things that happen here. We renamed it, ‘The Lives of Us’. The story could have well been that of a neighbour or a close friend. It proved to us that our suspicions are not signs of neurosis or paranoia, but sure evidence of a secret espionage system.

For the people who managed to see the film, Weisler (the Stasi spy) could just as well have been our ‘Carlos’ or ‘Eric’. Weisler’s way of tapping the telephone, perversely listening to private conversations; these are techniques that the Stasi share with our Interior Ministry

I realised a long time ago that the best way to avoid the secret service is to say everything you think and know aloud. Talk loudly. State your real name. Don’t conceal anything, and spies’ work gets pretty hard. Let’s save them their long hours spent listening to secret recordings, the money spent on petrol getting them from A to B, and their long Internet searches for ‘outspoken’ voices.”

Here is the link to the original article from Yoani’s blog

  1. Follow up post #1 added on December 11, 2007 by manfredz with 464 total posts

    I remember mentioning it to a Cuban friend in Varadero that when the Stasi files (which they mostly hadn’t managed to destroy) were examined, it showed about 3 of 10 people were working for the stasi either directly or as ‘infomal agents”.  He told me in Cuba its probably about 7 out of 10 .....
    Sad if its true. But from what I experienced in my vists to relatives in East Berlin, I find the Cuban variety of totalitarian state to be much more open and accomodating both for visitors and their own people..  But both have the problem of once you cross that invisible line, the troubles begin for you.

  2. Follow up post #2 added on December 11, 2007 by publisher with 3905 total posts

    Well put. Thanks for the insight.

    Cuba consulting services

  3. Follow up post #3 added on December 11, 2007 by manfredz with 464 total posts

    the saddest moment in the Stasi file revelations was that one prominent East German civil rights advocate discovered that her own husband was one informing on her.
    Think far down the road Cuba will be also faced with decision on whether to give people access to their secret police files.  Germans decided people had the right altho names would be blacked out - still many if not most of the time you could figure out who was reporting on you from the context of what was reported. Some friendships ended suddenly.

  4. Follow up post #4 added on December 13, 2007 by cubanpete with 127 total posts

    I look forward to the day when the Karl Marx Theatre in Havana is renamed after Groucho Marx.

    For change (cambio) we can believe in.

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