Letter to a Cuban Abroad

Maria Matienzo

Dear Tatiana:

Cuba Mural photo by Ihosvanny.

I’m writing to let you know that here everyone is breathing, sleeping, eating and panicking over the “readjustment of Cuba’s economic model.”  It’s impossible to think about anything else other than how we’re going to put food on the table this coming year.

So, I’ll make a superhuman effort to tell you about anything that doesn’t have to do with unemployment or layoffs (oh, excuse me; currently they’re calling this the “availability” of workers).

Now I’ll take a deep breath and concentrate on another detail that we’re adapting to (and you know that there are lots of them). Since you left us, we’ve taken only a few steps beyond primitive communalism (with our chief elder included) and we’ve now arrived at a feudal system, one which will now become more accentuated by the trades.

Now, you see; I’ve returned back to the same thing.  Well, I’ll try to re-focus myself again.

Do you know that a few days ago it came out in the Granma newspaper that by next July they’re expecting to have a fiber optic cable installed that will connect Cuba to the Internet?  I can’t believe it.  We’re going to have Internet!

Perhaps we’ll be able to communicate more often, because look at how much work it has taken to maintain this friendship (with us always having to communicate through a third person, me writing on a borrowed e-mail account, relying on acquaintances who come and go…).

Imagine; it’s been five years since you left and I’ve not been able to see your face since then.  I only know about the changes in you and your life from what you’ve told me.

They say that with the Internet, people can see each other in real time as well as talk to each other, send photos, make new friends, and buy and sell things.  Wow!  That would be great!  I wonder if it’s true.

But here they also say that it will be easier for the enemy influence to get onto the island and into our homes.  There could be, for example, a wave of pornography, and that would also be bad for us.

It’s probably better that I don’t get too many illusions because this cable system —since it has to pass through Jamaica and Venezuela— will bring a special type of Internet: some a kind of Bolivarian and Jamaican Internet. You know that anything is possible here.

In any case, they’re already determined the cost, and they’re going to have to take it out of our hides.  How?  I don’t I know – but know how to do it.

I don’t want to get my hopes up, but I’m sure it will improve people’s existing connections, though that won’t mean anything to the 90 percent of the population who don’t even know what it is.

By the way, so far I haven’t found myself on the street with no job.  But they say (at least this is what someone told me in the hallway) the situation is not the way it’s been reported on the news, and that the layoffs are unconstitutional.  This means that they’re illegal since they were not approved by any law saying that they can fire people in Cuba just like that.

You see? There I go again, talking about the same thing.

Let me let you go so that I don’t negatively complicate your life.

Kisses to you and your family. Tell Felito to take care of himself and to not go crazy seeing that things here are getting worse every day.

Love you all.

Maria Matienzo

Maria Matienzo Puerto: I dreamed once that I was a butterfly who had come from Africa and discovered that I had been alive for thirty years. From that time on, I constructed my world while I was sleeping: I was born in a magic city like Havana; I dedicated myself to journalism; I wrote and edited books for children; I met to discuss art with wonderful people; I fell in love with a woman. Of course, there are certain points of coincidence with the reality of my waking life and it’s that I prefer the silence of reading and the pleasure of a good movie.



3 thoughts on “Letter to a Cuban Abroad

  • Regarding the installment of a new fiber optic cable, I would like to say I feel skeptical about the freedom of speech once the connections are already made, although it will improve connections between outsiders and the island, there will be lot’s of things pretty much censored for must of the people ,just like the Chinese do with Google and Yahoo?? If not Pornography ,an American virus attack on Cuba’s state ministries,is always like that. In my opinion Internet have been a political issue in the island because the state tends to control the media and internet is part of it, it’s unbelievable we living 2010 and the majority inside Cuba still don’t have internet, true we’ve seen some improvements the last couple of years ,with students having access to Facebook at Universities, people like you who have do voodoo to write here or like Yohany Sanchez ,doesn’t matter what political view you two could have.As a Cuban i would like to have the same freedom with the Internet like you but am afraid that will only be in the future….

    Reply
  • Well, it’s almost September 2011…..what’s the status of this infamous cable, anyone know?

    Reply
  • Maria Matienzo Puerto. I’m hoping you get to read the comments here. I’m in the US and have been to Cuba a number of times. I don’t know what the details will be about the internet access once the Venezuelan cable is connected to Cuba’s system, but I did access the internet while I was in Cuba at a number of locations. Not enough, but I could connect at government run centers, hotels, and private homes too. I also have been following the internet and cable situation for some time. The internet here in the US was very slow until we got cable or other fast connections wired to most areas. Still not all, but now most areas. Before that we had “dial up” which is a bit slower than what I found in Cuba. Seems the US government has been refusing to allow cables from Florida to Cuba that are already in place be used, so your government had to use Satellite connections – which are extremely expensive and not very fast. Cost has gradually come down here and in the last several years, free locations have been put in place by some localities and stores, but at home you have to pay for it most of the time and the cost is about $30 to $60 a months. So speed should be much better with the new cable, but cost still depends on the overall expenses and what the priorities are. I hope it is made available to all as quickly as possible.

    About censorship. Here in the US, there is some, but it is mostly hidden. For example the US government controls some of the basic world wide cable routing services and for a time blocked sites with Cuba in the name. I also found some blocks on sites with CU as a suffix. Lately that is less. There are many ways the internet gets controlled in all countries. You will see!

    And yes, I do look forward to fast service to Cuba. Phone calls become free and video is available with a number of programs.

    Reply

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