Between Two Walls


Finally, I sit down in the chair of a hotel, open my laptop, and look from side to side. Seeing me, the security guard mutters a brief “she came” into the microphone pinned to his lapel. Afterward some tourists appear, while my index finger works the mouse as fast as it can to optimize the few minutes of Internet access. It’s the first time in ten days that I’ve managed to submerge myself into the great world wide web. A list of proxies helps me with the censured pages and I will see the Generation Y portal from an anonymous server, the bridge to banned sites. In three years I’ve become a specialist in slow connections and badly performing public cybercafés under surveillance. Feeling my way, I administer a blog, send tweets that I can’t read the responses to, and manage a nearly collapsed email account.

After bypassing the limitations to reach cyberspace, we Cubans see the censorship that grips us from two different sides. One comes from the lack of political will on the part of our government to allow this Island mass access to the web of networks. It shows itself in blogs and filtered portals and in the prohibitive prices for an hour of surfing the WWW. The other – also painful – is that of services that exclude residents in our country under the justification of the anachronistic blockade/embargo. Those who think limiting the functionality of sites like Jaiku, Google Gears, and Appstore for my compatriots will have any effect on the authorities of my country are naïve. They know that those who govern us have satellite antennas in their homes, broadband, open Internet, iPhones full of applications, while we – the citizens – trip over screens that say “this service is not available in your country.”

Just as we get around the internal restrictions here, we also sneak through the closed gates of those who exclude us from abroad. For every lock they put on us there is a trick to picking it open. But it still frustrates me that after avoiding the State Security agents below my apartment, paying a third of a monthly salary for an hour of internet time, seeing the animosity in the faces of the guards at the hotels, to see that Revolico, Cubaencuentro, Cubanet and DesdeCuba continue in the long night of the censored sites, I go and type – like a conjurer of relief – a URL and instead of opening it seems to me that a wall has been raised on the other side.

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23 thoughts on “Between Two Walls

  1. What happens in the Gulf of Mexico has direct consequences to the Cuban people. Freedom of speech allows different views to be expressed. Personal attacks against peoples expressions come from people who do not comprehend what freedom really means. It is not one way or the other it is all ways. In a free society there are no reasons to be afraid to express oneself. I assume that most people who read Yoani’s words are aware of the suppressive regime that all Cuban people live under. I hope to express that “Between Two Walls” means exactly what it sounds like, both countries have walls and as free people we must navigate between them. Read between the lines and all is exposed.

  2. Less than 1 percent of the population has an internet connection. Access to the state-controlled Intranet cost $1.50 per hour, and access from a hotel with Internet network cost $7 per hour. Very few can afford those high costs and low connection speed since the average monthly salary is $20. The main reason for this is the regime priority to exercise total control of information in and out of the island.

  3. The Castros regime based in its judicial system could condemn Cubans Internet users up to 20 years in prison, if they post what is considered by the regime to be a “counter-revolutionary” post in a foreign website. They could face up to 5 years prison if connected illegally to the Internet.

  4. Craig Quirolo, or is it Karian? Did you change your mind on your sex change? SAME OLD TACTICS! BLAMING THE U.S. FOR THINGS AND MAKING ACCUSATIONS ABOUT THE GOVEMENT IN ORDER TO CHANGE/DIFUSSE THE DISCUSSION/POSTS AT HAND! THIS IS A BLOG ABOUT CUBAN ISSUES! DONT TRY THE “JUEGUITO” MAN/LADY, IT GETS OLD!

  5. The video can be seen in the spanish version of this site. Server does not allow to post the video here.

  6. Ariel Sigler Amaya at hospital after suffering prison in Castro’s cuba. See next video.

  7. Many of my friends (in USA) are waiting ‘on the edge of their seats’ for the embargo to be lifted so that they may travel freely to Cuba. I hope that lifting the embargo is a two way street and that the Cuban people will be allowed to travel freely as well, if not on airplanes and boats, at least on the web. After witnessing the worlds worst environmental disaster here in the Gulf of Mexico it has become crystal clear that Multi-National oil companies control the American government. Tons of whale, dolphin, turtle and fish carcasses have washed up on our beaches and are guarded by US Military forces ( at the request of BP) that prohibit the news media from photographing the carnage. All the talk about ‘human rights’ as a strictly Cuban problem are spoken with ‘blinders on’. The people in the Gulf are starting a mass exodus away from the coastal areas because of the toxic air and water conditions created by the dumping of tons of dispersants on the oil spill. Human rights? I believe in freedom (especially of the press) and I see it vanishing in the United States as it has in Cuba. Yoani, as they say ‘when the people lead the government will follow’ we all desire peace and freedom, together as private citizens, may our voices be heard.

  8. GO OBAMA!! I TRUST YOU! HUMAN RIGHTS BEFORE $$$$ FOR AGRICULTURE & TRAVEL LOBBIES!

    THE MIAMI HERALD: Without democracy, no reform-BY OTTO REICH and FRANK CALZON- Friday, 08.13.10

    In maintaining Cuba on the official list of State Sponsors of Terrorism for another year, the Obama administration last week said Havana provides safe haven to terrorists belonging to three outlaw organizations. Additionally, Cuba, according to the United States, “permit[s] U.S. fugitives to live legally in Cuba. These U.S. fugitives include convicted murderers as well as numerous hijackers.”
    The statements could not come at a worse time for those who want to lift Washington’s ban on American tourism to the island, apparently including Cuban Cardinal Jaime Ortega. Ortega traveled to Washington recently to speak with Gen. Jim Jones, Obama’s national security adviser. The National Security Council released a statement from General Jones, but kept mum about what the cardinal requested.

    The Washington Post, however, reported that Cardinal Ortega “subscribe[s] to the rosier view” of those who believe that despite Fidel Castro’s opposition, “Raúl [Castro] is determined to press forward with a program of change that will extend for years, rather than months.” Ortega said it is “not realistic to begin” with the “democratic reforms” that Obama has demanded as a condition for improved relations. Yet, without democracy and the civil and economic rights that accompany it, all other reforms will fail and can only serve to extend the hold of the Castro dictatorship.

    Ortega’s visit undergirds efforts by some in Congress to allow tourism and extend bank credits rather than insist on cash payments to U.S. exporters. The administration’s newest terrorism report spoils those plans: “Cuba continued to provide physical safe haven and ideological support to members of three groups designated as Foreign Terrorist Organizations by the United States” — FARC, ELN and ETA. The first two groups operate in Colombia. ETA is responsible for many murders in Spain.

    The latest assessment comes despite Cuba’s protests and efforts by sympathizers to have its name removed from the terrorist list. Cuba has been on the list under five presidents, Republican and Democrat, since 1982. The closest Havana got to being removed was in the 1990s, when Ana Belen Montes, then the highest Defense Intelligence Agency official responsible for assessing Cuba’s threat, almost convinced some well-meaning colleagues of Cuba’s innocence. She was arrested in 2001 and a year later was sentenced to 25 years after pleading guilty to spying for Havana.

    About the cardinal’s visit, the NSC quotes General Jones saying: “The United States government desires to see all political prisoners unconditionally released from jail in Cuba with the right to remain in Cuba upon release.” Jones also called “for the immediate release of [USAID contractor] Alan Gross, who has been held without charge since early December 2009” in Havana, for allegedly giving laptops and cell phones to Cuban dissidents.

    But if the NSC was reticent about quoting the cardinal, The Washington Post was not, concluding that Ortega has a benign view. The Cuban prelate brought the message that Raúl Castro “is ready to talk with the United States” because Castro wants “U.S. trade and investment” in order to “revive” Cuba’s economy.

    Yet many Cubans believe that a dialogue between Raúl Castro and the cardinal, or even with Washington, is not enough. The road to Cuba’s “revival” should start with the release of all political prisoners, as President Obama has asked. The cardinal should take a message back: Forget about U.S. foreign investment and tourism saving the Castro regime; free the Cubans’ economic capacity, which is much more than allowing them to own single-chair barbershops or to manufacture paper flowers at home. Cubans, not foreigners, can jump-start the island’s manufacturing, trade and agricultural production, but only under the sole proven economic system: free enterprise.

    As a first step, Raúl could reduce the taxes on remittances, as President Obama has asked, and permit those funds sent by exiles to finance significant economic activity. That would be real change, ameliorating the current economic crisis and providing employment for many un- and underemployed Cubans while liberating them from their dependence on the state.

    That might not be what Raúl Castro wants, but most Cubans, Catholics and non-Catholics would welcome it.

    Otto Reich is a former assistant secretary of state and ambassador to Venezuela. Frank Calzón is executive director of the Center for a Free Cuba in Arlington, Va.

    http://www.miamiherald.com/2010/08/13/1773993/without-democracy-no-reform.html

  9. Pamela, it’s very easy to send money.

    Click on the ‘How to Help’ button at the top of the page.

    Click on the yellow ‘Donar’ button after reading about what the donations are used for. Fill in the amount of the donation (payable in Euros).

    If you have a PayPal account, just put in your email and password and follow the directions.

    If you don’t have a PayPal account, click the pay by credit card button at the bottom of the page. Select your country of origin. If you’re from an English speaking country, the rest of the instructions should appear in English (helpful if you don’t read Spanish).

    Fill in the rest of the required information, click on the send donation button and you’re done. You can print your donation receipt immediately and will receive a confirming email within a few hours. After I donated, I even got a thank you email from Yoani (in Spanish) about a week later.

  10. Yoani, How can those of us outside of Cuba send money directly to the Cuban bloggers so that they can continue blogging? Thanks.

  11. AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL: Cuba: Mother harassed for marching for dead son: Reina Luisa Tamayo
    The mother of a Cuban prisoner of conscience who died after hunger striking has been repeatedly harassed and intimidated in an attempt to stop her from organizing marches to commemorate her son’s death. The next march is planned for 15 August.

    UA: 174/10 Index: AMR 25/012/2010 Cuba Date: 11 August 2010
    URGENT ACTION
    MOTHER HARASSED FOR MARCHING FOR DEAD SON
    The mother of a Cuban prisoner of conscience who died after hunger striking has been repeatedly
    harassed and intimidated in an attempt to stop her from organizing marches to commemorate
    her son’s death. The next march is planned for 15 August. Reina Luisa Tamayo is the mother of Orlando Zapata Tamayo, a prisoner of conscience who died on 22 February 2010, having spent several weeks on hunger strike whilst in prison. Since her son’s death, Reina Luisa Tamayo has organized weekly marches on Sundays in the town of Barnes, Holguin Province, Cuba, to honour her son’s memory. Relatives and friends accompany Reina Luisa Tamayo on these weekly marches from her home to attend mass at the
    Nuestra Señora de la Caridad Church, in Barnes and from there to the cemetery where Orlando Zapata Tamayo is buried. Last Sunday, 8 August, the group reported that as soon as they tried to leave Reina Luisa Tamayo’s house to start their march, they were confronted a few metres away from the house by hundreds of government supporters who blocked their way and beat some of the participants. They were pushed back to the house and followed into the house’s garden. The participants tried twice more to leave the house and resume the march but they were again violently confronted by the government supporters, who stayed outside the house until late in the afternoon. According to Reina Luisa Tamayo, during all this time a police patrol was close to her house watching as the events unfolded and failing to intervene. The group have reported how prior to 8 August, they have also been confronted by government supporters and state
    security officials who have gathered around Reina Luisa Tamayo’s house and prevented them from marching,
    sometimes preventing them from reaching the church, the cemetery, or both. They have also reported how state security officials and police officers have set up check points on the routes to Reina Luisa Tamayo’s house on the day prior to the march to prevent people from reaching the house and joining the march.
    PLEASE WRITE IMMEDIATELY in Spanish or your own language:
    Calling on the authorities to ensure an immediate halt to the harassment and intimidation of Reina Luisa Tamayo by government supporters, and that of her relatives and friends and any other citizens who seek to peacefully exercise their right to freedom of expression, assembly and association;
    Calling on the authorities to permit Reina Luisa Tamayo and others to march peacefully as is their right on
    Sundays.
    PLEASE SEND APPEALS BEFORE 22 SEPTEMBER 2010 TO:
    Head of State and Government
    Raúl Castro Ruz Presidente
    La Habana, Cuba
    Fax: +53 7 8333085 (via Foreign
    Ministry); +1 2127791697 (via Cuban
    Mission to UN)
    Email: cuba@un.int (c/o Cuban
    Mission to UN)
    Salutation: Su Excelencia/Your
    Excellency
    Interior Minister
    General Abelardo Coloma Ibarra
    Ministro del Interior y Prisiones
    Ministerio del Interior, Plaza de la
    Revolución, La Habana, Cuba
    Fax: +53 7 8333085 (via Ministry of
    Foreign Affairs)
    +1 2127791697 (via Cuban Mission
    to UN)
    Salutation: Su Excelencia/Your
    Excellency
    Also send copies to diplomatic representatives accredited to your country. Check with your section office if sending appeals after the above date.
    UA: 98/10 Index: AMR 25/006/2010 Date: 29 April 2010
    URGENT ACTION
    MOTHER HARASSED FOR MARCHING FOR DEAD SON
    ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
    Reina Luisa Tamayo is one of the Damas de Blanco (Ladies in White), a group of women relatives and friends of prisoners detained during a major crackdown on government critics in March 2003. In 2003, over several days, the Cuban authorities arrested 75 men and women for their peaceful expression of critical opinions of the government. They were subjected to summary trials and were sentenced to long prison terms of up to 28 years. Amnesty International declared the 75 convicted dissidents to be prisoners of conscience, 32 of them remain in prison. Damas de Blanco organizes peaceful weekly marches in Havana where they distribute flowers and call for the release of their relatives and friends. In March 2010 Damas de Blanco organized a daily march for a week to mark the seventh anniversary of the arrest of their relatives. On 17 of March 2010, their march was forcibly broken up by Cuban police, who briefly detained several
    women. Some of the women claimed that they were beaten by the police.
    UA: 174/10 Index: AMR 25/012/2010 Issue Date: 11 August 2010

    http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/info/AMR25/012/2010/en

    PDF FILE LINK
    http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/asset/AMR25/012/2010/en/176819df-fe09-4083-b8ff-f6f2b3727ff0/amr250122010en.pdf

  12. VANCOUVER SUN: Catholic church raises profile in Cuba with icon of virgin-By Carlos Batista, August 12, 2010

    For the first time since the Cuban revolution half a century ago, an icon of Cuba’s patron saint is making the rounds of the island in a sign of a gradual rapprochement between the Communist authorities and the Catholic Church.

    The pilgrimage’s send-off took place Sunday at the shrine to the Virgin of Charity of Copper, in a valley peppered with copper mines near Santiago de Cuba, 950 kilometers (590 miles) east of Havana.

    Its year-and-a-half journey through the Cuban countryside is a highlight of festivities organized by the church to mark the 400th anniversary of the virgin’s appearance, according to legend, to three fishermen lost in a storm.

    In a rarity for this officially atheist country, Cuba’s state-controlled television on Monday rebroadcast the mass given in the shrine by the archbishop of Santiago, Monsignor Dionisio Garcia.

    It was the latest example of a slow thaw in church-state relations, which were frigid for decades after the 1959 Marxist revolution and only began to change around the time of Pope John Paul II’s historic visit in 1998.

    Cardinal Jaime Ortega, who spent a year in a military “reeducation” camp in the 1960s, has recently played a central role as a mediator with Raul Castro, Fidel’s brother and successor, to obtain the release of political prisoners.

    So far, the church has obtained the freedom of 21 political prisoners – all of whom have left the island – and a promise that 32 more will be released by November.

    With the pilgrimage by the effigy of the Virgin of Charity of Copper, which is supposed to finish its run December 10, 2011 in Havana, the church hopes to project a message of dialogue and reconciliation.

    “To you, sign and link of unity, we pray on behalf of all the children of the fatherland and for whom we want what is best for Cuba,” says a prayer accompanying the effigy, referring to the country’s two million emigres and their children, most of whom live in the United States.

    The image of the virgin – a dark-skinned doll dressed in gold and mounted in a glass cage – was borne in a procession from the shrine to its first stop in the town of San Luis, escorted by two ranks of motorcycles and greeted by hundreds of people, a witness said.

    Many Cubans associate the Virgin of Charity of Copper to the goddess of love Ochun in Santeria rites, which mix Catholicism with African cults.

    The only other time it has made a pilgrimage was in 1951-52 to mark the 50th anniversary of the Cuban republic, after centuries of colonial rule by Spain.

    That pilgrimage also was initiated by then archbishop of Santiago, Monsignor Enrique Perez Serantes, who in May 1955 intervened with Cuban authorities to obtain an amnesty for Fidel and Raul Castro, imprisoned after a failed 1953 assault on a military barracks.

    Fidel, who would later declare himself a Marxist, wore a medal of the virgin given to him by his mother Lina when he led a guerrilla uprising in the Sierra Maestra.

    And when the revolution triumphed on January 1, 1959, Lina went to the shrine to thank the virgin for preserving her son’s life.

    But after the revolution, the church was accused of collusion with the ousted regime of dictator Fulgencio Batista and cast into the wilderness until the 1990s when Cuba allowed Christmas to be celebrated once again.

    http://www.vancouversun.com/Catholic+church+raises+profile+Cuba+with+icon+virgin/3391182/story.html

  13. I just want to say that this website “desdecuba” cannot be access through internet stations offered to tourists in hotels. I’ve tried to read this blog while in Cuba but I could not access it. It is blocked by a bunch of gangsters that keep on saying that Cuba is free.

  14. YOANI’S POST ON SOUTH AFRICAN NEWSPAPER!

    SOUTH AFRICA’S TIMES LIVE: Zuma’s media tribunal and repressive media in Cuba.-August 12th, 2010- By Minor Matters |

    SA and Cuba are miles apart.

    Zuma yesterday expressed his support of the ANC’s plans to curtail media freedom. Just a little concerning to think that the leader of our nation is supporting a media tribunal and the protection of information Bill. While we debate press freedom, it’s useful to think of countries where press freedom is severely curtailed.

    In Cuba for example the Castro government has for years repressed any dissent. It has effectively prevented critics from publishing their views in Cuba. While we debate our own media issues, Cuba’s state of affairs show that a media tribunal doesn’t necessarily mean we’ll have a similar situation. But it’s also useful to reflect on how dangerous paranoia can be. Unchecked it could lead to very severe interference into a free media.

    In Cuba though in the almost impossible conditions dissident blogger Yoani Sanchez find herself in, the 34-year-old, manages to write a beautiful blog, Generation Y. As a figurehead of an underground ‘cyber culture’, she gains access in spite of the restrictions though proxies and by giving memory sticks to people who do have access at work, or by posing as a tourist in hotels where there is free Internet.

    Yesterday she posted Between two Walls, her first posting in 10 days:

    “Finally, I sit down in the chair of a hotel, open my laptop, and look from side to side. Seeing me, the security guard mutters a brief “she came” into the microphone pinned to his lapel. Afterwards some tourists appear, while my index finger works the mouse as fast as it can to optimize the few minutes of Internet access. It’s the first time in ten days that I’ve managed to submerge myself into the great world wide web. A list of proxies helps me with the censured pages and I will see the Generation Y portal from an anonymous server, the bridge to banned sites. In three years I’ve become a specialist in slow connections and badly performing public cybercafés under surveillance. Feeling my way, I administer a blog, send tweets that I can’t read the responses to, and manage a nearly collapsed email account.

    After bypassing the limitations to reach cyberspace, we Cubans see the censorship that grips us from two different sides. One comes from the lack of political will on the part of our government to allow this Island mass access to the web of networks. It shows itself in blogs and filtered portals and in the prohibitive prices for an hour of surfing the WWW. The other – also painful – is that of services that exclude residents in our country under the justification of the anachronistic blockade/embargo. Those who think limiting the functionality of sites like Jaiku, Google Gears, and Appstore for my compatriots will have any effect on the authorities of my country are naïve. They know that those who govern us have satellite antennas in their homes, broadband, open Internet, iPhones full of applications, while we – the citizens – trip over screens that say “this service is not available in your country.”

    Just as we get around the internal restrictions here, we also sneak through the closed gates of those who exclude us from abroad. For every lock they put on us there is a trick to picking it open. But it still frustrates me that after avoiding the State Security agents below my apartment, paying a third of a monthly salary for an hour of internet time, seeing the animosity in the faces of the guards at the hotels, seeing that Revolico, Cubaencuentro, Cubanet and DesdeCuba continue in the long night of the censored sites, I go and type – like a conjurer of relief – a URL and instead of opening it seems to me that a wall has been raised on the other side.”

    http://blogs.timeslive.co.za/minor/2010/08/12/zumas-media-tribunal-and-repressive-media-in-cuba/

  15. Sad , sad country , and we still have people in this world supporting The Castro Brothers!!

  16. I guess the rebolution has resigned itself, repression no matter how well organized is (to borrow the expression) like a lock vulnerable to a set of picks.
    In the short run, it seems an interminable walk towards freedom … in the long run, hope fueled by the “little liberties” a crafty mind creates.
    The rebolution’s problem is not that they can’t stop the likes of Yoani, the rebolution’s problem is that the Cuban bloggers by their mere existence are the heralds of the end of the rebolution’s hold on power.
    They are not the malady, they are affirmation of the Cuban wish to be free, a Cuba free like Marti envisioned before the rebolution “reviewed” version of his love for Cuba.
    The rebolution (I think) is not procupied by the bloggers influence, they underestimate it, they have grown acostumed to the perception that they hold power forever & in believing it to be so … they have isolated themselves from the people.
    The “old guard” is at the end of their life, the new, are ambitions & perhaps smarter, they learn (they hope) from their predecesors however … they don’t have a carismatic leader nor they have new “ideas” they have grown believing in the entitlement created by the nomenclature, they are part of it & as such they don’t see what the future will bring, they choose to live in their little distorted world.
    The gente air blowing today is the wind of tomorrow, that much is known by all …
    what the rebolution does in the present may help turn that gentel air into a hurricane … either way, there is no going back for them & for Cuba …
    FREEDOM IS COMMING … VIVA CUBA LIBRE !!!

  17. Pingback: Tweets that mention Generation Y » Between Two Walls -- Topsy.com

  18. ***
    Yoani Sanchez and the brave Cuban bloggers are modern Paul Reveres. They always find a way to send the liberty message. Yoani is very tricky.
    ***
    Yoanni Sanchez y los valientes bloggers Cubanos son los modernos Paul Reveres. Siempre encuentran el modo mandar el mensaje de libertad. Yoani es muy chapucera.
    ***
    John Bibb
    ***

  19. I just wish to say, as a nonlatina, as someone from the U.S., as someone with a great interest in Cuba, that I applaud your work. You are making a difference.

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