I will explain it in a later post, why.
So here I am, sitting in a chair in a chair in the European Parliament in Brussels, in the Conference on Cuba Bloggers. Cuba Bloggers are on the phone, the organizers from the Green/EPA and Piratpartiet (also in the Green/EPA fraction).
Cuban bloggers Yoani Sánches, Claudia Cadelo, Orlando Luis Lazo, Reinaldo Escobar, Miriam Ceyla, Iván García, Laritza Diversent, Eugenio Leal, Dimas Castellanos.
- all togheter 25 Bloggers sitting all in one room at Yoanis place.
In the European Paliament: Franziska Brantner MEP, Christian Engström MEP, Manuel Desdin, Benoît Hervieu, Susan Dennisson and many others. (Form Amnesty International, Reporters without boundaries)
Also in the room 12 other people (including me) and 27 empty translators boxes for every language that is official in the European union. The people in the room are journalists, European parliament employees and other bloggers.
The Cuban bloggers are, what used to be called "dissidents" - they face oppression in Cuba, their blogs are not really accessible, they often need someone who would post the text for them on the internet. And this is why we are sitting here in this room - because of Internet. Because even that the internet in Cuba is controlled and filtered, they still can access the websites that are hosted outside of Cuba. And even if the American embargo means that the internet bandwidth is limited and very expansive, it is still there. And that allows for the ones who have the urge to speak to be heard.
Since many of my readers are bloggers themselves - try for a second and just imagine living in a world were in order to publish something on your blog you would either need to be someone from the nomenclatures, or know someone, or know some foreigners that would smuggle it out for you. And anytime you can face consequences. (last week Orlando Zapata died in prison after 80 days hunger strike) Yet there is an exponential growth of blogging community in Cuba with over one hundred blogs now. And those who are using twitter are escaping the control of the government even further - given the fact that twitter is so open that there are brazillion ways to get a tweet out - even by sending out a sms.
you can check the Wikipedia article on Yoani Sánchez for reference. But keep in mind that the Cuban bloggosphere is, like everywhere else very diverse. Unfortunately, I can't read Spanish freely, so I am limited to reading translated versions - and the blog of Yoani Sánchez - Generation Y is available in 17 languages
So what can you do?
- Read Cuban blogs. And write about it, cause getting known will physically protect some bloggers from oppression.
- There is practically no access to internet in Cuba now (only 2% of Cuban citizen have access to it - as compared to 12% in Haiti for example) - and f they go to a hotel to use it and are about to pay for it, there will be questions asked, were did they got the money from. But what You can do, is to bring your old 33.6k modem with you on the next vacation and leave it there (this is obviously not an option for Americans, but I know a lot of Europeans, who went to Cuba for a normal vacations). Do you still remember how it was as the whole internet was that fast? After you upgraded finally from that 2.4k modem?
- get a TOR server up an running, to allow people to circumvent filtering and censorship
From a political point of view - I think that the American embargo should be opened up to allow cheaper internet in Cuba, since limiting it hurts not the government, but limits their human rights even further, than the Cuban regime do. I also would like to see more European evolvement, to especially address the situation with human rights and oppression of freedom.