HAVANA TIMES — What is this sign really saying? The picture was taken at the entrance to the art gallery located in Havana’s Yara movie theater. Is the ad actually offering a service, or is it an artistic performance?
Some years ago, during the Romerias de Mayo theater festival in Holguin, a group of performance artists filled the city with ads announcing a casting for a Brazilian soap opera. Hundreds of young and not-so-young would-be actors from Holguin attended the casting and some were ultimately “selected” by a demanding jury that appeared to speak Portuguese. It is said that, as the festival drew to a close, the performers had to flee from stone-hurling crowds of young and not-so-young actors in Holguin, whose “low cultural level” had not allowed them to appreciate the “performance.”
WiFi in Havana?
This service, already widely-available in other cities around the world, is offered in the Cuban capital only at hotels (where it is quite expensive) and some official entities. I recall how young people used to sit with their laptops in front of the Faculty of Communication of the University of Havana, in the middle of G street, but I haven’t seen them there for quite some time.
While visiting someone at the Oncology Hospital, I met a very smart and well-spoken young professional who told me an informal and self-managed WiFi network was operating in Havana.
That was nearly two years ago. The network was being operated at several of the capital’s well-to-do neighborhoods, and its administrators urged its users not to exchange political or pornographic materials. People were using it to exchange software, games, videos, movies and music and to play on-line games.
I don’t know what became of that autonomous “fraternal” service. In 1990s Russia, a number of similar social undertakings proved the embryos of current Internet providers, companies that have long secured their slice of the market in the country.
Cuba could well avail itself of such community initiatives. The issue of Internet access, however, has been politicized too much and is burdened by pending bureaucratic decisions and the inefficiency of State monopolies.
As Yaima Pardo expressed in her documentary, we continue to be, in great measure, an off-line country.
So, I wonder: what is this sign really saying?