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 page 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 Blogger.com 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.
The path for channeling this aid is directly to each blogger. 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!”
Cubans cannot contract for a home Internet account. Only senior officials and resident foreigners can connect to the network from home. For that reason, I can only send my texts from hotels where one hour of internet costs between USD $7 and $9 USD.
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