How to Help

Every week I receive hundreds of emails, which I can hardly respond due to my limited ability to connect to the Internet. So I am taking the opportunity of this post to answer the question: How can I help the alternative blogosphere in Cuba?

I will detail the resources or the type of collaboration that can help bloggers in creating and updating their blogs.  This list is not in any priority order and should be interpreted simply as suggestions.  It’s a request to citizens of the whole world and rests on the solidarity among people that has nothing to do with political stripes or ideological preferences.  So here goes:

  • Link to the blogs and place them on the search engines or platforms where they can have greater visibility.  Each person who reads us, protects us, so we need to strengthen the shield formed by readers and commentators.
  • Spread the contents of the blogs, especially to the interior of Cuba.  This can be done by sending our posts to friends and relatives on the Island, to share with them the opinions that come from right here, but which are not disclosed in the official media.
  • Invite alternative bloggers to participate in events, whether virtual or real.  This can be done through voice recordings, home made videos or telephone calls that help spread their opinions.
  • Lend a hand in the administration of blogs, especially to those bloggers who have  very limited access to the Internet.  For this you only need the will to collaborate, a minimal understanding of WordPress or and the honesty to not add or change any content that has been authorized by the author of the site.
  • Avoid the cult of personality of a single emblematic blogger and take the alternative blogosphere as a phenomenon in which a growing number of Cubans are participating.  Don’t repeat in the virtual world the adoration of individuals that does so much damage in the real world.
  • Buy cards for accessing the internet in public places.  Remember that many of us are obligated to play the high prices in the cybercafés or the hotels to access the net.  So if you’re a tourist visiting the island, collaborate with us to acquire a few hours of connection in these places.
  • Every kind of information media is helpful to us, from the tiny flash drives to the most sophisticated external hard drives.  A great number of the bloggers I know distribute their texts to the interior of the Island on these storage devices.
  • Mobile phones and economic aid to open and maintain accounts.  I have been in the position where I frequently post by sending text messages to people outside Cuba who later put my texts on the net.  So providing a blogger a cell phone is a way to open a parallel path to the traditional Internet access.
  • Laptops or any kind of accessory to build a PC.  My experience tells me that an old laptop brought to the island and given to a possible blogger can be the spark for the emergence of a new opinion.  Look in your office or your house for everything that’s been scrapped but that might be useful for assembling a computer, and add it to your suitcase when you are vacationing in Cuba.  And please, don’t even think of sending it by mail.
  • Software both free and licensed.  Especially those programs that are used to process images, audio, and video and that optimize internet connection time.  I want to remind you that we cannot buy these programs in any store or purchase them through online transactions.
  • Digital cameras and video recorders, especially the little Flip camcorder that lets us discretely film situations in our everyday lives.
  • Digital recorders for interviews and telephone recorders to capture the voices of those who call from the provinces to dictate their texts.  An example of this is the blog of the political prisoner Pablo Pacheco, whose texts are read over the telephone.
  • Books about citizen journalism, manuals and programs and every kind of documentation that can help us to better understand the blogger phenomenon.

Write a message to the email that appears in the blogs published from within Cuba—see the list of links in my sidebar—and organize, without intermediaries, this type of solidarity.  The slogan of this help movement could well be: “Oxygen for the Cuban blogosphere!”


29 thoughts on “How to Help

  1. i have never met this courageous and bold sister woman and i want to tell her how enthusiastic i am about her blog and her attempts to assist and serve the Cuban people.
    However, as i have always shared with my students//POWER GIVES UP NOTHING WITHOUT A STRUGGLE NEVER DID AND NEVER WILL..

    i will be going back to Cuba Mon night..i have the ability to provide internet cards

    1. Not reaching out to the right people
    2. Not putting herself in a safe enough positon to do so.
    3 Not trusting her own instincts which tell us all when to hold them and when to fold when to walk and when to run.
    4 Trusting people who do not!! do not have her welfare in mind let alone Cuban people

  2. The following phrase is enough eloquent, enough graphic!!!! :

    “If, it is wrong to talk, then, it is worse do not speak”!!!!.

    Anything ,,,anything,,,,!!!!! against the Cuban “Robolution”,,,,against Castro’ s regime and his “maffiosa gang”, is valid, is one more grain of sand to be added to the mountain of complaints that, sooner or later will enrich the real situation of Cuba and her people!!!!.

    Let anybody express himself and shows his idea about Castro’s regime, does matter if it is Maria Elvira, Baily, Mandrake “The magician” , etc,,,,this, in one way, or another, is another via, another way to denounce anything against Cuba’s corrupt system.

    I’ don’t support nobody who committed a crime against innocent people, but, sometimes, is hard to separated after 50 years who was, o not innocent -in one way or another- because, snitching or torture, or repress, etc, etc,, could be as guilty as killing, depending who was the affected one,,,the family who did suffer the crime!!!!

    Posada Carriles, and several Cubans have been accused of Terrorism, but , that never has been proved in a court of law,,,,and, I’m talking about a real court of law, not about the Cuban’s court of law where the final verdict always will be depending of Castro’s will,,,,we, the Cubans,,,are totally sure about that, there are thousands of examples in more than 50 years!!!!

    Everything comes at the right time, then, whenever our hour is coming , we, the Cubans, will be able to take the right decisions, and cut off the “crap”, eliminating the killers, the cruelty, the stupid and insane laws, the repression , the so mentioned “revolutionaries principles”, the so claimed “communist attitude”,,,,,,resume,,,,we will be able to be “FREE,,,and we will get our FREEDOM for ever and ever!!!!!.

    But in top of everything, I believe that after more than 50 years, we did learn the lesson and we will be able to transmit to our future generations that such mistake, will not be repeated again,,,,never,,,,ever!!!!!


  3. One thing I noticed in Cuba is that the Cubans are very passionate in their discussions. Out on a hike in the hills when the question of which way should we go back came up a giant discussion brewed up with much shouting and arm waving. We saw this enough times to learn that it is some sort of natural habit. Just look at the discussions about baseball that happen on the street corners. Since public discourse on political subjects is repressed there is a tremendous energy that must somehow be released. Apparently the kids are like this at school too. It seemed to me that all of my cuban friends must have grown up in large extended families with lots of siblings and cousins. They grew up having to talk loud and fast to be heard.

    This discussion here , ought to not be about how you disagree with someone else, but about how we can all work together to help our friends across the gulf. As I said earlier true priorities will show

  4. Alci,

    I’m going to jump in and agree with you. I find it hard to read this blog sometimes because of a few of the commentators. Usually I just read Yoani’s entries and skip the comments, because I do feel like this blog is often used to justify many very far right positions on Cuba. All of my friends in Cuba are in agreement with Yoani, people’s daily existence, as expressed in post #4, is extremely hard and while many people do support certain aspects of the revolution…most are desperate for a change in how their government is structured. That said, everyone I met in Cuba, even those who were extremely critical of their government, were also opposed to the right wing politics coming from Miami which has only made their lives in Cuba that much worse.

    Sorry I have to run and can’t write more….

  5. Alci #20, you claim you’re not engaged in ‘guilt by association,’ then in the following sentences keep trying to associate Yoani with the most extreme elements of the Cuban exile community, thereby discrediting her. Sorry fella, but those are textbook ‘guilt by association’ tactics.

    Instead of speculating about what Yoani might think about things she hasn’t written about (e.g. Gaza), try commenting on things she has. This will make it much easier to have a constructive conversation.

  6. ……………………….viva cuba viva fidel viva la rebolucion……………..

  7. I am not trying to frame Yoani as guilty by association, on the contrary, I just wanted to express how sad it is that her work gets hijacked by parties she’s probably not even aware of. I agree with one post below that it is not clear exactly where Yoani stands politically, it doesn’t really matter, but I doubt she would support what just happened in Gaza, and although she’s probably not a big fan of Hugo Chavez, I doubt she wants another Pinochet in South America.

    I understand there may be right-wingers here. But I wanted to comment on how the groups who have access to most private media in the US and promote Yoani are the most radical, racist and violent sectors of the Miami community. There’s a difference between conservative points of view and people who want Cuba to be bombed, who praise the blockade and don’t want to let Cuba choose its own future, they want to impose an outside system as soon as Fidel dies without so much as consulting the Cuban people. Consider Maria Elvira, who heavily promotes Yoani, she constantly promotes the idea that once the Castro regime ends, one of the Cuban members of the US Congress should go form a new government. I have seen the blog mentioned on some more moderate outlets, but they rarely get much traction, at least in the United States.

  8. # 14 If you were actually objective you might realize a lot of inconsistincies in your thought. Are you actually trying to hijack Yoni’s blog for the left? There are plenty of people who read this blog that consider Luis Posada a freedom fighter. The one thing readers here do agree on is working for freedom for the oppressed people of Cuba. Drop your holier-than thou left wing attitudes and work with the rest of us. Or admit that you are more interested in preaching you version of political correctness than helping. everyone is welcome here and a lot is tolerated. If you truly value our common goal you will keep the divisiveness down

    I would love to send some of my old outdated for me computer parts, RAM ect to the Cuban bloggers Also USB jump sticks. does anyone have any good ideas how this can be done.

  9. In reply to Alci #14. Yoani’s blog is not being hijacked by rightwingers any more than by leftwingers. Your post made me chuckle when I consider that a link to the left-leaning Huffington Post is prominently displayed on the front page of Yoani’s blog.

    Surely, Yoani deserves to be judged on her own body of writing, not the kind of weird ‘guilt by association’ measuring stick you’re attempting to judge her on.

    While Yoani has made her views clear on specific issues, on the broader question of where she fits on the political spectrum, I’m not sure where she comes down.

    One thing is clear though. Yoani wants to live in a democratic country where everyone has the right to freely express and organize around their political beliefs, whatever they may be. For that reason, she deserves our support whether we’re political rightwingers, leftwingers, or centrists.

  10. @#16 Carlos, #15 “yankee” must have moved house — several times — sometimes he’s canadian, sometimes mexican, mostly “anonimo”, he’s even showed up as “Kenny” — but his messages are all the same drivel. after the moderator removed some of his threats he thought he’d get more ‘subtle’ but he can’t disguise himself and yet, although he believes he’s on the side of right and power, he refuses to show his real face. typical. and really just pathetic and sad.

  11. To # 15,yankee you sound really wierd and your cinism look incompleted to me.But any ways and thank you as a visitor increasing the # of hits in this page.
    To Yoani and her people,all my admiration and support.

  12. yonanie you are good …….and lucky to have acces to a portable ,i was told tha people c. ant even afford toilet paper…. but don t worrry us yankee are coming with boat full with toilet paper….

  13. Hi Yoani,

    I admire your blog very much and believe it is of vital importance to show the diverse voices inside Cuba. But Yoani, I wanted to comment on how your blog has been hijacked by the most radical right-wing media outlets in Miami. Shows like Jamie Bayly and Maria Elvira Live, which support radical right-wing views, try to promote your blog as if you are one of them. They support people like George Bush, the war in Iraq, recently Maria Elvira supported Israel’s brutal war in Gaza, they also support the blockade on Cuba and call for a military coup in Venezuela. Bayly praises your blog and then makes racist comments about Bolivia’s indigenous communities, calling them basically uneducated fools. These outlets also support terrorists who have hurt Cuba like Luis Posada Carriles.

    Here in the US many of us are beginning to suffer because of the kind of system the Miami crowd want to impose on Cuba. People can’t afford decent healthcare, all the best schools are denied to us in the lower classes because of their high cost, the ranks of the homeless and hungry are growing at drastic levels. Here in California we are beginning to experience the worst. I wouldn’t want your important work to be associated with the kind of people promoting the system and ideas which are hurting us, the working class who admire the Cuban people so much.

    I admire what you are doing. You are a true freedom fighter, but it saddens me when these racist, almost fascist groups in the US try to claim your work.


    Alci Rengifo.
    Los Angeles, California.

  14. I agree with Julio. If you read his earlier postings, Calzadilla knew it was almost a certainty that the municipal court would not overturn his firing. In fact, prior to the ruling, he wrote a series of articles in which he used the past tense to talk about “the philosophy he liked to teach.”

    I think Calzadilla showed uncommon courage in even taking this matter to the Cuban courts. He mentioned in an earlier posting that he could find no record of any Cuban academic fired for counter-revolutionary teachings ever challenged the firing in court.

    At the end of the article on the ruling Calzadilla talks about appealing to the Cuban Supreme Court even though I think he knows it would be futile.

    I hope I’m wrong but Erasmo Calzadilla’s diary will likely soon disappear from the Havana Times website. In the meantime it’s given those of us living in democratic countries a reality check about the true nature of totalitarian regimes.

  15. Candido
    We should be very hard headed as. Calzadilla and as Yoani.
    We need to remind this people that we want our rights restore at every second
    . If we stay silent then they no body will know. The purpose of doing this things is to let the world know about how unjust the Cuban system
    Is to it’s citizens.
    See for example that Yoani has persisted in applying for an exit permit.
    I am sure she knows the answer will be the same. Still every time
    She does it and tells us about the failure to get the exit permit is
    One more example of how the Cuban government violates the rights
    Of their citizens.

  16. 1
    Mayo 29th, 2009 at 12:01

    What is a normal day like in Cuba?
    Welcome Marilyn, I hope you let us read your opinions often now on.
    You will find the answere to your question reading the old articles posted by Yoani. Each one is a picture of the daily life in Cuba.

  17. El negrito cimarron seguira enviando modem de senales de humo. Y sus buenas USB thumbdrives too :)

  18. I’m so sorry My. Calzadilla, this is another violation in the long list that has been happening during the last 50 years.

    I just want to be sure, and if you can, please answer my question!!!!

    What did you expect?,,,Did you believe that in your case, the justice could be served?,,,,Come on Mr.Calzadilla,,,don’t be so naive!!!!.

    The only good part of this appeal is “just that it is another written proof about how Castro, his regime and the Robolution!!!!, are violating the most simple human rights !!!.

    I’m sorry one more time.


  19. For those Gen Y readers who might be interested, below is the blog posting Calzadilla made in response to the court ruling. It’s not too long so I’ll post it in its entirety:

    “My sentence is handed down

    By Erasmo Calzadilla

    Today is Wednesday, May 27, and I have finally received the much-awaited sentence from my trial.

    Delivered by mail to my house were six typewritten pages full of legal “insomuches,” which I read hurriedly to get to the last paragraph.

    In that passage, it finally stated that I was without grounds in my lawsuit against the University for dismissing me as a college professor.

    Since before receiving the notification I had still held on to a certain degree of hope, with the news my chest sank for a few instants.

    The court’s sentence states that I had violated obligations stipulated in my contract. Included among the false elements that the judges cited to pronounce such a sentence were:

    * That the students had received faulty instruction.
    * That a previous explanation had been made to me of deficiencies in the performance of my duties.
    * That I had violated the class hours.
    * That the only seminars I taught were the ones I left copies of in the library.
    * That in two of my seminars I made open attacks against Marx and his philosophy.

    All of these – from the first to the last – are absolute falsehoods. What I do not understand is how such claims could be accepted in a trial like this with nothing more than verbal statements by the witnesses, no concrete proof.

    It should also be taken into account that I myself could not present witnesses, since the only ones possible were my former students, who had been intimidated by the rector of the university (INSTEC).

    He had opened fire against me in special meetings with them by stating that my position did not concur with the principles of the Revolution. Likewise, the proof he presented to the students were my articles in this blog, Havana Times. The rector accused me of this while my articles flipped across a screen – at full speed and in English – in one of these meetings.

    Finally the judges concluded:

    * That I had breached Article 5 of Resolution 128 of the Ministry of Higher Education (which specifies the need to provide education in the formation of ethical and moral values) when I omitted the teaching of basic aspects and fundamental principles of Marxism Leninism.

    * That I committed forbidden actions in violation of the obligation of my job position and the responsibility that it carried. (Though it does not state what the prohibited actions were.)

    I still want to present the case before the Supreme Court, but for now I am only requesting a sardonic applause for those who in the most sinister manner – and in defense of their personal privileges – have contributed to seeing injustice prevail.”

  20. Speaking of a lack of oxygen in the Cuban blogosphere, a Cuban university professor named Erasmo Calzadilla was recently fired for questioning basic aspects of Marxism-Leninism in articles that appeared in a Cuban state sanctioned website called the ‘Havana Times.’

    Calzadilla had the audacity to appeal his dismissal in the Cuban courts which predictably ruled against him.

  21. Marilyn:

    The following is a normal day for any “typical Cuban”:

    -Waking up, thinking about what does he has to do to find today’s food!!!

    -Waking up, thinking what clothes he could wear today, because, the one that he had yesterday is already dirty, and he was not able to find the soap or detergent to do the laundry!!!!,,,and he has only a couple of pants and shirts!!!!

    -Waking up, thinking that if he has a “personal or illegal business” (there, anything is illegal, even working,,,, for example as a taxi driver using your own car), and he should be very careful, because he can go to jail or -in this case, his car will be expropriated !!!!!!

    -Waking up, knowing that there is a Police Department in every block of your town that his duty is just to observe every movement and anything that looks “suspicious” , for example,,,,if you are walking with a small package in your arm, or, if you are talking with a few friends in the corner , etc, etc, etc.

    -Waking up, thinking that you will be waiting 2-3 hours to be able to reach the bus , or any kind of transportation to be able to go to work- if your fortunate!!!!!, because most of the times you must walk to reach your work place-, then, the same situation will be applied at the returning time!!!!!

    -Waking up, thinking that he knows, since yesterday, that at the end of today working hours, will be a “mandatory” analysis or study of the last speech, or reflection of Castro or anybody else, that exactly as during the last 40 years beside of being so boring, will be repeating the same slogans, and mainly, asking for more more sacrifices, more shortcomings, more poverty, more disgraces, etc, etc.

    -Waking up, knowing that his only way to be free is just the exile, but, to be able to get the exit permission from Cuba’s authorities in short time, you should be a “magician”!!!!! to obtain it, plus, to be able to get somebody who will be able to help you, marrying you, or inviting you, does matter if we are talking about Haiti, or Timbuctu!!!!, the important thing is just leave Cuba,,,,then, after, he would be able to reach his final destination!!!

    -I can mention thousands of Waking ups, but, this one -will be the last one- resume everything:

    Waking up, knowing that his HOPE, to be a normal human being in his country, which, after the so acclaimed Revolution, supposedly fully of good things for Cuba, and after more than 50 years, is “ZERO”, because Castro, with his ideas, and his “mafiosa gang” did kill that HOPE, and the only thing that you can count for sure, is more poverty, more sacrifices and more repression!!!!!!

    This is the normal day of any normal Cuban!!!!!


  22. Marilyn
    There is no normal day in Cuba every day brings something new.
    Either a new restriction from the government or a new scarcity!

    If you read prior post from Yoani you will see the troubles they have for transportation, education of children, food shortages and the constant watchful eye of the government on everything they do until they die.

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