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Cuba’s independent media must ‘win the confidence’ of the population

The two-day Cuba event, which is part of Social Media
Week ending Friday, brought together activists, journalists and other
professionals from outside and inside Cuba to discuss the state of
internet access on the island.

Despite a slight opening of internet use in Cuba, the creation of nearly
200 wifi spots in public areas and an increasing number of mobile
phones, the majority of the population on the island remains disconnected.

With a penetration rate of only five percent, one of the lowest in the
world, the Cuban government exercises stiff control over the internet,
blocking digital sites that are considered “subversive.”

Few know better how the Cuban government censorship functions than the
independent journalists on the island.

“Cuba will change, but they are controlling the change, not only with
their laws but also by controlling the access to development that
represents the internet,” said Miriam Celaya in
an interview Tuesday with In Cuba Today during the second day of the
Cuba Internet Freedom conference held in Miami’s Wynwood Arts District.

A panel of Cuban journalists from inside and outside the island shared
their experiences and explained their visions about the future of the
internet and independent journalism in Cuba.

The two-day CIF event, which is part of Social Media Week ending Friday,
was organized by the Office of Cuba Broadcasting, the U.S. government
agency that runs Radio and TV Martí.

Days prior to the event, Cuba’s Foreign Ministry representative for the
U.S., Josefina Vidal, said the conference sought to promote internal

According to Celaya, the mass use of the internet would only help to
“accelerate” change on the island.

“The internet does not produce democracy, but promotes it,” said the
seasoned who works as a freelancer and a contributor with the
digital newspaper 14ymedio, founded by Yoani Sánchez.

“We must create a culture of information in Cuba,” she said.

Many publications not officially sanctioned by the government, such as
14ymedio, are blocked and internet users must access the websites
through a proxy, a digital address that serves as an intermediate point
between the computer and the internet.

Ignacio González, from the digital site Hablemos Press, said the
independent media in Cuba has to work to “win the confidence” of the
Cuban people.

“Cubans are indoctrinated by the government since they are children,”
González said. “It is normal that there is a distrust of independent
media, but we have to earn the trust of the people.”

Iván García, a freelance journalist who collaborates with El Mundo and
Diario de Cuba, stressed the importance of independent journalism in
order to document the reality of the island. He said the official Cuban
press, which is controlled by the government, shows a “virtual” reality.

“The government journalists do not show the reality of the island. The
press does not reflect reality,” said García, who began his career as a
writer for the Cuban state-run television.

Other panel participants included Rolando Robaina, founder of Palenque
Visión, Rachel Vázquez, cultural editor of 14ymedio and the Somos +
movement, and Luis Felipe Rojas, a journalist at Martí Noticias.

Source: Cuban independent journalists say the majority of the island
remains disconnected | In Cuba Today –

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