14ymedio, Mario Penton, Miami, 24 August 2016 – This coming 12-13
September, independent Cuban journalists will meet with digital
innovators and individuals who are fighting to open the island to the
World Wide Web. This first conference on the use of the internet in Cuba
is being organized by the Office of Cuban Broadcasting (OCB), which
operates Radio and TV Martí. The event will be free and open to the public.
One of the pillars of “The Martís” (as OCB’s media are known on the
island), is free access to the internet in countries where the right is
censored, as is the case in Cuba,” explained Maria (Malule) Gonzales,
According to Gonzalez, the event will be something new because it will
not be Miami Cubans teaching islanders about the internet, but more than
20 experts in different areas who will come exclusively to share their
knowledge and experience with the use of the network in Cuba.
“We are looking, first of all, to provide the ABCs of internet use in
Cuba, and also to present the ‘offline’ internet that people on the
island have developed: applications, informal information networks,
among other things,” she explains.
The Office of Cuban Broadcasting is an institution funded by the US
government in order to break the government monopoly on information in
Cuba. For more than 30 years it has managed Radio Martí, later adding a
television signal, both of which are bones of contention between the
Cuban government, which wants their elimination, and the US government
which funds them.
“Our first means of distribution is Radio Martí, but shortwave use is
declining in Cuba. The digital world is gaining tremendous momentum,”
said Gonzalez, hence the interest of the enterprise to enhance its
The conference will include different sessions, among them universal
access to the internet as a human right, the work of social networks and
dissidence and activism in the digital era, as well as covering
different Cuban media from outside the island.
Among the speakers from Cuba will be Eliecer Avila, president of the
Somos+ Movement (We Are More), and Miriam Celaya, freelance
journalist. In addition, professors Ted Henken and Larry Press will
attend, along with Ernesto Hernández Busto, manager of the blog
Penúltimos Días, and Karl Kathuria.
For Celaya, the meeting in Miami will be an occasion to show that
journalism on the island has its own voice. “We are in a process of
maturation. Independent journalism in Cuba was not born yesterday, but
is the result of an evolutionary process. Right now, the conditions are
ripe to accelerate it,” she said.
Cuba ranks among the countries with the poorest internet access in the
world. According to official sources, about 30% of the Cuban population
has been on the wireless networks that the government has installed in
parks and downtown streets of some cities. Only two provinces have wifi
in all municipalities, and prices remain very high for the average
Cuban, at two CUC per hour, in a country with an average wage equivalent
to about 20 CUC a month.
Source: First Conference On Internet Freedom In Cuba To Be Held In Miami
/ 14ymedio, Mario Penton – Translating Cuba –