Informacion economica sobre Cuba

How underground technology is revolutionizing Cuba
America Abroad
February 11, 2015 · 8:45 AM EST
Producer Rob Sachs

Under the Castro Regime, everything in Cuba is closely monitored,
especially the Internet. According to Carlos Ponce of the international
watchdog group Freedom House, only about five percent of Cuban residents
have unrestricted access to the web. Of those five percent, most work
for the government or are part of the Cuban elite.

One major barrier to greater access is the cost of getting online,
which, Ponce says, can eat up a large portion of the average Cuban’s
monthly salary. The other is the fear of government spying on everything
from emails to phone calls.

“If you want to talk with somebody in the island, you have to find a
secure line,” he says. “Sometimes they don’t want to talk because it’s
too expensive to use the cell phones, and they know that somebody’s
going to listen.”

Pay phones in in the city center of Camaguëy, Cuba. Credit: Paul Keller
At the same time, the government’s push for universal education has led
to a nearly 100 percent literacy rate — and a country full of smart,
motivated people with few outlets for expression and little access to
the outside world.

Yoani Sanchez is a well-known Cuban blogger and advocate for freedom of
expression. She says there’s a thirst for technology on the island,
which has lead to some ingenious solutions. She built her first computer
out of scrap parts. “And I remember a friend of mine had given me
something that was useless — this was a machine for purposes of plucking
hair from your legs. And I traded that in the black market for a

Sanchez says there’s a thriving black market for electronics in Cuba, as
well as a large illegal network of WiFi connections and ethernet cables
snaking from house to house. There’s also something known as the
Sneakernet, a system of passing information from person to person
through flash drives and pen drives. Sanchez says this has been a
lifeline for many.

A campaign to open access to the internet in Cuba Credit: Eric Froissard
“One day when Cuba changes, in additional to all the statues that you
will have to build and the ones you will have to tear down, they will
have to build a statue to the flash memory,” Sanchez says. “Because
that’s how we’re doing it. Because that small device has given us a lot
of freedom, has given us a lot of information, and has enabled us to
exchange copies and copies from hand to hand to learn about the social
stability, to hear their voices and to see their faces.”
This opening of relations between the US and Cuba has many hoping that
things like the Sneakernet will become obsolete once widespread,
unfettered Internet access is available. Freedom House’s Carlos Ponce
sees the possible infusion of new technology into the country as a good
development — as long as it’s paired with a loosening of government
restrictions on that technology. “It is positive to have better
technologies,” he says. “Or to find a way with satellites, or with other
ways to have access to better Internet connections in Cuba. … But I
don’t think that’s the government approach right now.”

Yet the momentum of change is palpable for people like 26-year-old Raul
Moas of the Miami-based organization Roots of Hope. Since 2009, his
organization has distributed more than 12,000 pieces of electronics to
young people on the island including refurbished laptops, USB sticks,
cell phones and tablets. And they did it legally. As Moas explains, what
Cuba needs now is an evolution, not another revolution.

“Our goal is not a political one,” he says. “It’s not regime change in
Cuba. It’s not to bring down government. Not at all. Our goal and status
is to empower people, to empower generations, so that they can define
what their country’s future should look like.”

That said, once they’ve distributed the electronics, they don’t monitor
how the technology is used. Maos points to “the package” — essentially a
collection of digital media: TV shows, music, digital magazines, offline
copies of websites including all of Wikipedia — uncensored material that
comes in to the island through travelers or illegal satellite dishes.
All of this is bought and sold on the black market and distributed via
flash drive. Moas says it’s this Cuban ingenuity that will drive change
on the island.

“Anything we can do to contribute to that, to having Cubans feel like
they have a voice, they’re not just listeners, but rather they can be
active contributors and participants in a conversation about the
nation’s future, is a good thing,” he says.

Moas says with each new connection, each new conversation, and each new
voice willing to speak out, there is a greater likelihood that change
will finally come to a government whose policies have been stagnant for

Source: How underground technology is revolutionizing Cuba | Public
Radio International –

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