Cuban Artist Kcho’s Internet Service is a Lie

Isbel Diaz Torres

Plaque at Kcho’s studio complex.

HAVANA TIMES – Cuba’s wealthy visual artist Alexis Leyva, better known as “Kcho”, is offering access to his broadband Internet connection as part of a socio-cultural project offered by his studio. The connection, however, is extremely bad.

The two times I have tried to use this service, I’ve gone away disappointed, unable to do two very simple things: send an email and publish a blog entry.

On Tuesday, the second time I went, I was determined to wait as much as needed and type in the vacuous password, “aquinoserindenadie” (“noonewillsurrender”) as many times as many times as required.

I arrived at Kcho’s modern properties at 10:30 am, when some 20 people were using his Internet service.

My repeated attempts at logging into Facebook met with the following error message: “The connection with the specified server could not be found (java.security.cert.CertPathValidatorException: Trust anchor to certificate path not found. [javax.net.ssl.SSLHandshakeException].”

When I tried to access my Gmail account, I ran into this error message: “Can’t establish a reliable connection to the server.”

After many attempts, I then tried to visit Havana Times. I didn’t get any kind of error message, but I still wasn’t able to access the page.

After 45 minutes, I was finally able to access Facebook and Gmail – but don’t get too excited. Facebook was super-slow and I wasn’t able to post a single message or see one photo. I was barely able to see two posts by friends, but only the text.

Something similar happened with Gmail. I managed to access the page, but I was unable to see my messages in the inbox, let alone send out any emails. Finally, error messages began to pop up and the application closed.

Fidel Castro visits Kcho at the Romerillo Studio in January 2014. Photo: cubadebate.cu

At 11:48 (an hour and a half of repeated attempts later), I managed to log into Twitter and see the latest Tweets, but I was unable to publish anything.

In addition to being slow, I was asked to type in the insufferable password every several minutes, at a page which showed an old picture of Fidel Castro as background decoration.

The worst part of this isn’t the bad or non-existent service but the logic behind it. As you can see, access to the Internet isn’t presented as a right but as a hand-out, a gift that this magnate of the arts gives us, through a paternalistic, populist and opportunistic gesture towards those who do not have his privileges.

The Estudio Romerillo Art Laboratory patronage and its offer of free WiFi is yet another example of how the island’s cultural elites are consolidating themselves, besmirched, in this case, by the name of a rich artist who uses his power in the Cuban parliament to support the approval of an exploitative and anti-popular tax legislation, today known as the “Kcho Law.”

Isbel Diaz

Isbel Diaz Torres: Pinar del Rio and Havana are my cities. I was born in one on March 1, 1976, and I’ve always lived in the other. I am a biologist and poet, though at times I’ve also been a musician, translator, teacher, computer geek, designer, photographer and editor. I’m very non-conformist and a defender of differences – perhaps due to always having been an ever-repressed “model child.” Nothing enthralls me more than the unknown, nature and art; these serve as my sources of mystery and development. A surprising activism has been born in me over the recent period. Though I’m not very sure how to channel it, I feel that it’s a worthy and legitimate energy. Let’s hope I have the discernment to manage it.


7 thoughts on “Cuban Artist Kcho’s Internet Service is a Lie

  • March 26, 2015 at 8:37 am
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    Actually: there is child malnutrition in Cuba. The WFP provides food
    aid to over a quarter of a million kids in the 5 eastern provinces of
    Cuba.
    There are lots of Cuban children that sleep in the streets or in shitty “albergas” because their houses fell down.

  • March 25, 2015 at 8:36 pm
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    No cost. It just needs to be authorized. The people will take from there.

  • March 24, 2015 at 7:59 am
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    There are many countries in Latin America and the Caribbean with excellent internet service .
    With the exception of Cuba , there are none without child malnutrition .
    In the world outside of Cuba there are millions upon millions of kids who have excellent computer service and there are also millions of kids who sleep and beg in the streets .
    None of these beggars are Cubans.
    Which is the more important thing in which to invest when under attack by an implacable and powerful enemy ?

  • March 22, 2015 at 7:02 pm
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    Isbel, trust me, a few years back I owned a computer no one will remember, gateway, it had cows
    on the box. Well you had to plug the computer into the phone jacket to get connected and trust me, if you were perusing some weird sites, took forever. Oh, by the way, it cost money too! Not as
    much as Cuba but that should change rapidly.
    In short, you’re going thru a transition but my guess is you’ll be a hell of a lot better and faster, internet
    wise, in a very short time.

  • March 20, 2015 at 1:55 pm
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    He should have written that 20 people were ‘struggling’ to use the wireless service.

  • March 20, 2015 at 8:10 am
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    When this guy arrived at Kcho’s house, “some 20 people were using his internet service.” Those are his words. So how can the service be a “lie,” as the specious headline says?

  • March 20, 2015 at 5:13 am
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    Isbel is right: the “service” is a lie. It is just a propaganda exercise where 15 people can get crappy access to Internet in a country with 11 million people.
    The quality isn’t the issue though, it is the policy behind it.
    For your info Isbel:
    see this picture:
    http://www.havanatimes.org/sp/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/IMG_1232.jpg
    It says: 15 users. that means that when there are 20 present some won’t get on.
    As far as whet you can do: remember you are still connecting through a controlled Cuban server. that means that some services are blocked and that some websites are blocked.

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