Blogger “sit-in”

I’m coming to believe that the influence of the Internet on our reality is bigger than I thought. After several days of not being able to connect to the Internet in hotels such as the Meliá Cohiba, the Panorama and the emblematic Hotel Nacional, the ban seems to have been lifted. Today I spoke with the same employees who two weeks ago showed me the resolution excluding Cubans from using such services at tourist facilities. They told me I can once again buy the blessed card that opens the door to the virtual world.

I may sound a bit boastful, but I think that if we had not raised a ruckus in recent days—denouncing such apartheid—we would have been deprived of the ability to connect. Yes, they cede when you push back, they have to amend the plan when we citizens raise our voices and the international media hears the echo. We understood this with Gorki’s case, and this correction confirms that our keeping quiet only allows them to snatch away more spaces from us. We need to make the most of the situation, now they are saying “Cubans can connect”, and take it as a public commitment. We must hold them to it and, if not, there will be Twitter, Facebook and text messages for protesting, when they try to shut us out again.

* On Monday, a dozen bloggers conducted an investigation into more than forty hotels. With the exception of the Occidental Miramar, they all said they were ignoring the regulation that prohibited Cubans from accessing the internet.


18 thoughts on “Blogger “sit-in”

  1. av2ts — whose feeding whom with what spoon? I used to believe all sorts of crap about Cuba… then I went there and saw for myself. I have eyes. I have ears.

    meanwhile do you even read your own posts? poor claire had to use a pseudonym ‘so she would be able to return to cuba’… in other words… someone who reports on internet access in cuba assumes the government will kick them out.

    well that’s pretty free.

    and while we’re at it, let’s define “mostly”…

    well at least you admit desdecuba is blocked…but why? why in the wonderful communist paradise is a website blocked? because there’s no such thing as freedom of speech or opinion.

  2. Andy, you give up pretty easily for someone so confident in their spoon-fed version of the truth.

    Yes, I know that has been blocked on the island. This would make it highly unusual in Cuba. A 2006 study by the (anti-Cuba) group Reporters Without Borders (RSF in French), concluded the following (as reported in the Miami Herald in an article titled “Price, not politics, prohibits easy Web access in Cuba):

    The results were surprising: her report, released Thursday by Reporters Without Borders, says Internet cafes at hotels and the post office allowed mostly unfettered access to Web sites, even those considered “subversive.”

    “I was surprised I could visit all Web sites,” the journalist – who used the pseudonym of Claire Voeux to write the report so she would be able to return to Cuba – said in a telephone interview from France.

  3. “The issues is a non-issue because everyone kept blogging”

    Do you deny — in the happy little daddy-fidel-loves-his-children-and-is-a-benevolent-dictator-and-they-are-so-lucky-to-live-under-his-iron-fist world in which you live — that is blocked on the island? They ‘blog’ by EMAILING out their entries which are posted by others.

    Actually I have no interest in arguing with you about anything because you’re a complete apologist for this murderous dictatorial regime… I just hate to see your smug little supposedly-logic-filled comments lying just like fidel does at every turn. Alas, there are a few people idiotic enough to believe youse.

  4. Andy, the point is not about anyone’s experience one time on video. Facts are facts. There was no national policy against hotel internet usage – Yoani knows this. It was a hotel by hotel thing. the only real reporting during that time said it was related to new ECTESA (service) contract rules. It is common everywhere for the usage of hotel facilities to be reserved for hotel guests. It is common for an internet provider to define the end user. 2nd, My comment about “free” wireless was just to compare with the US. I understand how it works in Cuba. 3rd, I see uninformed anti-Cuba rants on S. Florida websites all the time too, but Cuba has never given them an inch before. Why now? The issue was a non-issue because everyone kept blogging. See, the whole premise is bogus, and you have ignored that small detail.

  5. av2ts — reread your post carefully and then reread Yoani’s posts and watch the video and then… reread your post again.

    The woman, Raquel, in the video clearly tells Reinaldo that the policy comes from the Tourism Ministry, not from the hotel. Now whether that’s true or not, that’s what she says, and she points him to a posted written statement which apparently reinforces that. So who knows what and who is trying to hide what? Is the woman lying? Do you know she is lying? Did you go to the hotel and talk to her yourself?

    Second… where do you get the idea the internet is “free” — Reinaldo asks to buy a card. Yes, I’ve heard some of the hotels now have free wireless, you can just sit in the lobby and log on. But he did not ask to sit in the lobby and log on for free. He asked to buy a card. She didn’t say, “There are no cards any more, it’s free”… she said he couldn’t buy a card because he wasn’t a foreigner.

    Third, as we know, people wrote to the hotel chain from all over the world taking them to task for their refusal to sell internet access to Cuban citizens. I have seen the letters on other people’s websites.

    So I don’t really care about “your estimation” — until you can present some facts that are stronger than this video which is very clear… keep your “estimations” to yourself… or at least stop calling Yoani a liar.

  6. Yoani is maddening with her lack of specificity. She leaves open the crucial points – or half-lies – whatever way you want to look at it. She’s trying to say that her “ruckus” caused the Cuban Government to reverse itself on a policy of internet “apartheid”. But her own reporting contradicts this. First off, there was no blanket national policy. She knows this, despite trying to hide it. Most of the 40 hotels she investigated never were a part of the policy. El Pais reported early on that the Cohiba had a new contract with Etecsa (internet provider) – and that contract contains the no-Cubans-on-the-Internet clause. This was from the Cohiba management. That they decided to reverse the policy likely has less to do with the “ruckus” than with the legal/technical reasons it was there in the first place (after all, in what private US hotel can people off the street walk in and use the free wireless?) My estimation is that the hotel operators realized the numbers of people using the facilities was minimal and therefore losing significant bandwidth or interfering with the paying tourists was not a problem. If the Cubans wanted to ban the internet or bloggers it would do so pretty simply. Inserting the language into new ETECSA contracts would not have been the way. And they would not have rescinded based on the minimal pressure (they are used to much worse).

  7. Finaly the people of Cuba are speaking up and not as scared of the Regime that has been robbing them blind for the last 50 years. Speak up and form protests against what ails you. The world will support you as people generally want whats correct. When Fidel passes on would be a great catlyst/trigger. Speak up and claim your rights. Cuba has been highjacked since 1959 and enough is enough.

  8. Pingback: Did NewsBusters Help Cause Cuban Government to Back Down on Internet Prohibitions? | Latest Technology News - Business News And Expert Advice

  9. imagine …..1 million cubans marching the streets off havana…..asking for ther freedom…it has work elsewhere it will work in cuba………..

  10. As Cuba’s best known blogger, you played an important role in exposing a weak link in the system of Cuban state control. Your hidden camera expose is in line with the best traditions of investigative journalism, and makes the regime appear increasingly unable to instill the fear it needs for its survival. Congratulations.

  11. Thanks Floki, Guy and Maruja for your support. The cuban people is grateful about your solidarity. We hope have all you often here.

  12. Dear Joani, you was right, internet have great influence, much greater then other medias. Internet turn world to global village. Probably in all parts of word people asks themselves what kind of regulation is that “prohibit from access the internet”.
    You only wish something which others in other countries have, full access to net,and considering this fact like other normal things. For God name, nobody,nobody can’t take us that freedom. Regards from Europe, Croatia.

  13. a crack in the door, a thin sliver of light ? something coming down from the officials on high, or a mild refusal of someone lower down to enforce the will from above ? Maybe those at the top are too involved in a struggle for position in the impending rearrangement of power. Hopefully that will turn out to just be a game of musical chairs in a house of cards.

    An origin legend from Mexico. In the beginning when all was formless, in the void there were 2 beings who sensed the coming of the dawn. Morning Star and Smoking Mirror. As they rested in the celestial clouds they felt the presence of a primordial dragon/crocodile. Smoking Mirror put his foot down into the clouds and swirled it around. The crocodile snapped on his foot. A tremendous struggle ensued but Smoking Mirror over came the beast and pulled it out of the waters. thus the earth that rides on its back was born. Yoni and the other brave bloggers of Cuba can feel the approaching dawn. They also know all too well the crushing weight of the monster. If this monster that has held the Cuban people under its feet for so long fears the light of truth then perhaps we can help by shining as much light as we can bring to bear.

  14. This blog and it’s crew of commentators would like us to believe that Americans live in a free world where information is not blocked. We are to believe that the poor Cubans are suffering. I don’t believe it. You come to the States and learn the reality. We live in a real police state. You don’t know oppression until you have lived in the good ol US of A. It’s just a bunch of brainwashed zombies who have been raised on police state propaganda. :(

  15. That’s great , hang in there and make the best of It.

    Take care, we are with you in France.



  16. Bravo Yoani. Admiro profundamente la valentía de todos Ustedes. Ojalá que, cuando nos toque el turno a nosotros en Venezuela, sepamos reaccionar como Ustedes.

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