My Friend Harry and the Internet in Cuba

Veronica Fernandez

We met each other while students at the University of Havana. In that period, the Federation University Students (FEU) held activities every night and participation was mandatory; there was always a person in charge of taking attendance and their list was considered together with one’s grades in evaluating a student at the end of the year.

That’s how things were when my friend Harry and I were there giving our all to complete our studies. Though he was studying in another faculty, that of foreign languages, we became good friends, and our friendship has remained up until today.

Two years short of completing his major, Harry decided that he wanted to study computer science, so he did that as well. Harry’s perseverance in his desire to constantly improve himself has allowed him to feel realized in his professional life. I always note his wide ranging knowledge acquired in his specialty, one that has reached such heights in recent times.

Harry called me on the phone about two months to tell me that he had read in the paper about a coaxial cable that was being laid that would connect Cuba to the Internet. This thrilled him since he immediately thought — like all of us — that this would once and for all resolve the terrible situation of the Internet in Cuba.

In fact, not only computer specialists but people in general had the hope of seeing an answer to this serious problem that doesn’t even allow us to work efficiently, given the slow connection speeds that bog us down day after day. Likewise, we have limited access to important websites needed for our professional development and on occasion we can’t even open these.

Several days ago Harry called me again, but this time heart-stricken. During a meeting that they had in his ministry, whose main issues were concerns in the area of computer science, he had thought they were going to discuss the new opportunities that would emerge from the stringing of that famous cable from Venezuela to Cuba, the one that has been reported on in the media for more than a year.

All expectations were crushed for Harry, for me and for people who like us who require that service not as a luxury, but as a vital service.

Harry, like so many others of his profession there at the meeting, came out with his heart in pieces. His hopes had been squashed when hearing the director say that though the cable had indeed arrived on the island, but that people shouldn’t have illusions about improvements in Internet service or thoughts of homes getting e-mail.

This official who had dropped that bomb of disillusion also commented that first a study of the situation would be done in each government ministry and later they would see — based on what they found — what would be the priorities for improving Internet connections. He quickly added that this by no means implied that the service would become available for anyone requesting it and that not even all workplaces would experience improvements.

After hearing those dis-motivational words, we have to wonder why they build up people’s hopes with false expectations. You don’t play with human beings, you don’t destroy their dreams.

Veronica Fernadez

Veronica Fernandez: I was born in the town of Regla, on the other side of Havana Bay. Over the years, many people from Regla have gone to live in Cojimar, fleeing the contamination from the petroleum refinery in Regla. That's what my family did when I was just four years old. Since I was a little girl I have been drawn to the arts and letters. Poetry and narrative writing are my favorites. I had the good fortune to study philology, a branch of the human sciences dealing with language and literature, at the University of Havana with top notch professors. As a Capricorn, I adore organization, people who are mature, the romantic things in life and the lack of self-interest that is the backbone of these times. I enjoy our typical Cuban food, (white rice, black beans, pork and yucca with garlic sauce) and also Italian food. I also like chocolate and drinking a mojito (rum cocktail) in the historic center of my city.


One thought on “My Friend Harry and the Internet in Cuba

  • June 11, 2011 at 12:23 pm
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    If this “official” represents the leaders of Cuba today, the country is in for profound distress.
    What stupidity!

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