“Subversive monstrosity”: 500 Cubans attend internet festival in Havana
From ABC, in Spain: (my translation)
Dissident bloggers who blame the Cuban government for making internet access difficult have been holding a festival in Havana since Thursday, the objective of which is to promote web access on the island, an event that the officcial state media have proclaimed to be a “subversive monstrosity”
El Festival Clic, or “Click Festival,” which has held several different sessions through Saturday, attracted about five hundred people who advocate free access by “citizen journailsts” to social networks like Facebook or Twitter.
Yoani Sanchez, best known for her blog “Generation Y”, where she usually criticizes the government harshly, said to the Reuters News Agency that Cubans are ready to become “human beings of the 21st century”. “We want access to the internet,” she affirmed, , “and to learn about new technologies, just like any other citizen of the world.”
Cuba has no broadband access to the internet and has very few users, since it is a country where one has to wait a very long time to open an email account or to have access to photos and videos – a fact of life that impedes the functioning of all public services and enterprises.
Chief Executive Raúl Castro blames the poor connections on the trade embargo imposed by the United States on Cuba half a century ago, claiming that Washington blocks Cuba’s access to undersea cables that run near its coastline and that Cuba must instead rely on much more expensive satellite connections.
Although many hoped that internet connections would improve with the advent of a new fiber optic cable connection installed by Venezuela in February 2011, up until now it appears that it is not functioning and the authorities and the media have had nothing to say about this issue.
The bloggers who are taking part in el Festival Clic believe that the source of the problem is the Cuban government’s unwillingness to use the cable. Eliécer Avila, an information engineer, affirmed that this is “a cement wall that keeps the people of Cuba blindfolded in regards to the great advances that others enjoy in the world today.”
Although the organizers of the Festival Clic, which is being held in a house in one of Havana’s residential neighborhoods, insist that this event has to do with technology and not with politics, the official government media are suspicious of their intentions: The website cubadebate.cu says in an editorial: “They are cooking up a subversive monstrosity, pretending it isn’t political.”