Internet Access for Havana Times Writers

Irina Echarry

Foto: Caridad

HAVANA TIMES — Havana Times has been online for nearly four years – publishing diaries, opinions, interviews, news, etc. One of its greatest merits — and I would say, what makes it unique — is the diversity of opinion.

Another important feature is that the vast majority of the people who write for the site live in Cuba, which is positive on one hand, but terrible on the other due to all the difficulties with getting online.

Here on the island, most of us don’t have Internet access for reading the discussions and comments concerning our own articles.

Of the 23 Havana Times writers, only six (26 percent) have Internet access. Many of us never get the chance to even see the site.

Of those six, one of them has access from both work and home; three have access exclusively from work, and two can get online from home (using the accounts of family members – though only for a few minutes at a session). The connections are very slow, maybe what they were like 15-20 years ago in many countries.

The rest of us have to be content with email, be it our own or through someone else.

Among these other writers, six check their email every day, three do it one or two times a week, two open their mail every 15 days, another one checks once a month; and a last one checks sporadically, but can’t send or receive attachments.

The means for getting to check one’s mail are through one’s job or some government institution, with the help of family members or friends, or by paying an astronomical 2 CUCs (2.20 USD) an hour.

There are three of us who don’t even have email accounts and have to depend on others to send articles to HT or to read the comments sent that same route by the editor.

But our problems aren’t only access. For six of the writers having their own computers is still just a dream.

These are some of the difficulties that prevent us from participating in the discussions as we would like, but we still keep working.


6 thoughts on “Internet Access for Havana Times Writers

  • I just returned from Cuba and am grateful for how much Havana Times taught me about the country before I went there! I fell in love with the country and the people, and am saddened that the lack of internet means I will never get to send a note to my new friends just to say hello. My trip made me appreciate how hard Havana Times writers must work to make this website happen – thank you very much for everything you do!

  • Thank you, Irina, for letting folks in other countries know about the limitations you are facing. Things hopefully will get better.

  • Irena play it cool, guys like Moses or myself live in a different world, when I am in Havana I pay CUC 10 for an hour, at home I have TV 160 Stations, Telephon and Internet and the Notebook is on a seperate line with the Fax worldwide. Different Countries have different setups. I have no problems to hand out gifts but it seems to me that greed and corruption is one of the more serious problem in Cubean society. I give you an other example, was in the Hospital for Bladder infection and Bladder Stones, the Invoice reads about $ 100.000.00, yes you read right $ 100.000.00, you think the normal US Citizen can afford that or even pay for it, guys like me have to make up because I have exellent coverage. The Grass is allways greener on the other side of the fence, is it greener and live on handouts and not your earnest earned money is better!!

  • Hello from NYC, New York. You definitely have a dilemma. The fact that the site exists is a positive development for your society — and, I think, for the world in general. I am hoping that people from other countries (not the US) will try to help you guys out, My best wishes to you!

  • There is really no valid excuse for the lack of internet access in Cuba! Although the Revolutionary Government is fearful of not having a monopoly for accessing all media, especially digital, in reality such control no longer exists. Through a variety of means, including flash drives, such attempts to control are already irrelevent. As with any society, forbidding something only encourages the acquisition of the “forbidden fruit” all the more. (Could even God himself prevent the acquisition of such knowledge by our original parents?)
    Once, when travelling from Santiago to Habana on a ViAzul, as the bus passed by many homes on the Carretera Central between Holguin and Tunas in the early evening, as I briefly peered through the open doorways and windows of these homes I noticed almost everyone viewing a popular telenovela on their tv sets. I have a dream. Instead of everyone viewing such (often upper-class Mexican and Venezuelan) fantasies, each family, and each person in that family, should take control of their own destiny by going on line. In such manner this would open up the world to each person, and s/he could increase his or her knowledge.
    Diego Rivera’s mural, “Man: Controller of the Universe,” anticipates this! In it, he depicts a worker at the controls of a giant machine. The worker’s hand is wrapped around a globe-like structure (perhaps a primitive mouse, as it were). With such access, we can all become as the gods. Many will waste this opportunity by filling up their hours with idle ammusements and idiotic pornography. Still, with others the internet will vastly expand their knowledge, will hook them up with other searchers with similar interests, etc. As Adam Smith once emphasized, a nation’s greatest wealth is its human potential. By limiting access to the internet, the Revolutionary Government is wasting, crimping and crippling this potential.
    Now that the cable from Venezuela has arrived–and it has been more than a year–let the surfing begin! As F.D.R. (to whom Fidel, as a 12 year old child, once wrote a letter), said: “The only thing we have to fear…is fear itself!” !Adelante, Cubanos!

  • In the latest post here at HT today where the Swedish foreigner admits he came to Cuba to give money to the dissident movement, he also acknowledges that he did not know it was illegal. What is the difference between sending $100 online to a dissident’s Cuban cell phone or giving $100 to the same Cuban face-to-face? Why is the second act seemingly illegal and the first one legal? Is it because the first one enriches the Cuban regime directly? It seems illogical especially if the dissident uses the $100 I put in his hand to put credit on his phone. In both cases, his “activities” are the same? Can someone enlighten me? I would like to help but I don’t do jail well, especially in Cuba.

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