Flash Drives are Cuba’s Internet

Alfredo Fernandez

HAVANA TIMES, Jan 3 — Here in Cuba, USB flash drives are used as a substitute for the Internet. People somehow manage to copy TV series, documentaries, books, movies and all kinds of information.

They store these on their USBs and then they get distributed randomly.

This is how we all learned the details around the capture of Osama Bin Laden. It’s the way teenagers watch the beauty pageants every year and how families are delighted for hours with Caso Cerrado (a Spanish-language TV courtroom series).

It’s all thanks to our strange form of the Internet.

The device that complements the “Cuban Internet” is the DVD player. Due to their prices being so much lower than a PC or a laptop, these have become great allies of the Cuban family.

Cubans who buy these make sure they have a USB port to plug in their flash memories to watch programs or movies that usually aren’t shown on national TV.

Many Cubans have flash memories though they don’t own a computer, sometimes not even a DVD player. They carry these everywhere, and whenever they get a chance those who are denied real Internet access plug in their memories to watch or to study.

Although this “Cuban Internet” helps to keep us updated, we’re always a little behind in what’s going on in the world.

Every Cuban without access to Internet is a kind of tropical Anne Frank, writing in their diaries about life distant from a space that inevitably should be theres.


When will we see the end of this technological apartheid that forces me to exchange data on a flash memory to be well informed?

When will this sick relationship that I have with the future end?

When I will I be able to connect to the Internet from home or any other part of my country like any other citizen in the world does?

When will flash memories cease being “My Internet”?


Alfredo Fernandez

Alfredo Fernandez: I didn't really leave Cuba, it's impossible to leave somewhere that you've never been. After gravitating for 37 years on that strange island, I managed to touch firm ground, but only to confirm that I hadn't reached anywhere. Perhaps I will never belong anywhere. Now I'm living in Ecuador, but please, don't believe me when I say where I am, better to find me in "the Cuba of my dreams.

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2 thoughts on “Flash Drives are Cuba’s Internet

  • The Cuban government could so easily afford to provide internet service to everyone in Cuba for free. It is not expensive to set up. That leads me to believe that their motivations for denying internet access has more to do with their fear of what that access will mean. Fear of the bad that comes along with the internet. And there is a lot of bad. Unfortunately, you’ve got to be a critical thinker to separate the misleading information from the accurate information, and most people have not been taught to think critically. But I think Cuba has the largest percentage of critical thinkers than any other country. So the Cuban government really doesn’t have anything to fear.

  • Dear Alfredo, Thanks for your report; it reflects what I saw in Cuba during my last visit, even down to the type of tv programs which were watched by the families I lived with and visited in Habana and Bayamo. Now that the cable from Venezuela has been connected, lets hope the government will quit stalling and make the internet available, and at an affordable price, to all Cubans. As Adam Smith once stated, its human capital is any nation’s most vital wealth; without everyone being connected to the internet, this possibility of developing this potential is largely wasted. With the internet, education advances exponentially. Self-motivated students might even dispense with a formal education system, or at least largely supplement it.

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