Monthly Archives: February 2011

It’s hard to bite the hand that feeds you

In my last post, I argued that Cuba’s lack of a real civil society creates a poor groundwork from which social movements could develop on the island. But behind this, and every potential outlet for change to occur, lies the state.

I don’t know if I’ll ever feel satisfied by my understanding of how the Cuban state operates and how it shapes Cuban society. Since I began studying Cuba, I’ve had a break through every few months, in which I feel like I’ve made progress, like another piece of the puzzle has fallen into place. But I doubt that it will ever be complete. I don’t think I’m alone in this. The people and the state share more common ground in Cuba than they do in almost any other country on earth. Continue reading

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Filed under Blogs out of Cuba, Cuba in Miami, Cuba in Spain

Cuba is not Egypt (and Miami is not Cuba)

In the last few weeks, reports of Egypt’s revolution, ranging from NYT articles to the ecstatic messages of MENA region bloggers on the Global Voices author listserv, have left me amazed and heartened by what has happened in Egypt. But as far as Cuba goes, I (oddly) find myself in agreement with the Miami Herald‘s editorial page: Cuba is no Egypt.

Last week, a number of voices in the blogosphere suggested that if Cubans had access to cell phones and social media platforms, they could follow the example of Egypt and other countries in the Middle East and North Africa. The Facebook group, “Por un levantamiento popular en Cuba” (In support of a popular uprising in Cuba) appeared with this wave. The group has well over four thousand “likes,” but reading the comments on their wall, you feel a Floridian breeze. Of the fourteen events they have listed, only one is meant to take place in Cuba. Several are in honor of the one-year anniversary of Orlando Zapata Tamayo’s death, which is today.* My sense is that most of the members are in Cuban communities outside of Cuba. They remain hopeful for change—but they seem somewhat out of touch with Cubans on the island, those for whom they supposedly advocate.

This may sound clunky, but I think they are putting the technological cart before the horse of civil society.

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Filed under Blogs out of Cuba, Cuba in Miami, Cuba in Spain, Technology in Cuba

Of cables, computer fairs, and cyber thugs

As I noted briefly last week, Generación Y has been unblocked in Cuba. Voces Cubanas and DesdeCuba, both platform sites where feeds for Gen Y, Octavo Cerco, and many other Cuba-based blogs appear, are also back. Yoani’s description of the moment when she connected to her blog, for the first time in three years, was poignant.

“With just a click I manage to enter the site that, since March of 2008, has not been visible from a public place. I’m so surprised I shout and the camera watching from the ceiling records the fillings in my teeth as I laugh uncontrollably.”

You can almost see the state security official watching her from the other side. Sites may be unblocked, and cable may be laid, but the presence of the people and machines of the state hold steady in the lives of citizens like Yoani. She is probably right to assume that this may not last for long, and not to mistake this for an innocent act of benevolence by the Cuban government. But still we should ask: why were these sites unblocked?

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Filed under Blogs out of Cuba, Cuba news, Technology in Cuba

Gen Y is back

Yoani Sanchez tweeted yesterday that Generación Y, her internationally infamous blog on life in Cuba, is now accessible on the island. Today, she wrote on Generación Y:  “Después de tres años, mi espacio virtual vuelve a ser avistado dentro de Cuba.” [After three years, my virtual space can be seen inside of Cuba.] Reuters reported that Cuban officials who were questioned about this change declined comment. Yoani thinks that it may be related to an upcoming IT conference in Havana. Regardless of the reason, she writes that she considers it a “citizens’ victory over the demons of control.”

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Filed under Blogs out of Cuba, Technology in Cuba