February 25, 2010

Cuba Blog Event

This is my live blogging from the March 4:th Cuban Blog event in the European Paliament...

Right now we are establishing a working phone line with Cuba.

Cuban bloggers Yoani Sánches, Claudia Cadelo, Orlando Luis Lazo, Reinaldo Escobar, Miriam Ceyla, Iván García, Laritza Diversent, Eugenio Leal, Dimas Castellanos.

In the European Paliament: Franziska Brantner MEP, Christian Engström MEP, Manuel Desdin, Benoît Hervieu, Susan Dennisson and many others.

More info / Press Release.
Also read Grégoy Engels live blogging from this event on Inotes.de.
Update: Also see Cubiyanqui.

So, let´s start...

Almost up and running. The phone number in the Press Release does not work. But questions can be sent to cubablogging@gmail.com

- Phone lines with Cuba working.

- Franziska Brantner, German Greens, greats everyone welcome and says hallo to Cuban bloggers. She states that it is important that we face the difficult Cuba issue.

- Cristian Engström, Swedish Pirate Party, talks about how the internet (web sites, blogs, forums, Twitter etc.) helps people in oppressed parts of the world to organise in opposition. He also underlines that the Internet also is important for transparency and openness in our part of the world.

- Manuel Desdin is talking about how Cuban bloggers have taken citizens journalism to a new level - and that this really is changing the Cuban society.

- Benoît Hervieu, Reporters sans frontièrs, tells us how bloggers in Cuba often must try to use the hotels wireless networks. He tells us how the regime bullies bloggers and filter the Internet. Even "ordinary" journalists have the same problem. He is afraid that this will get worst the next few months.

- He continues by telling us that the Cuban Regime are going more nervous and aggressive. But he thinks that contacts between Cuba oppositionals and people in the outside world might hold back this development.

- Susan Dennisson, Amnesty, touches on several aspects of Cuban oppression. When it comes to the technical aspects of Internet in Cuba, she would like to know if the EU can help in any way.

- SD also tells us that Cuban Post Offices have started to provide (limited) Internet access.

- Phone line down. Redialing in progress.

- While we wait, BH tells us how Cuba censors foreign media.  (E.g. Le Monde, but not WSJ.)

- Phone line works again.

- Yoani Sánchez in Cuba will now tell us about how the Cuban bloggers find their situation.

- She tells us that the blogger community in Cuba is very young. Only the Nomenclatura and people from other countries have OK internet access. For all others connections are very expensive and slow. So they do most of their blogging of line. Then they try to get an connection to send many blogposts for many bloggers at the same time.

- Y.S. continues: When it comes to censorship it can also be imposed by threats, isolation etc. to scare people so they sjut up. But bloggers in Cuba support each other actively, even if they all do not share the same views on politics.

- Y.S.: Internet was the only option for these Cubans to express them selfes in Cuba and to the world.

- Y.S.: The Cuban blogosphere is growing rapidly. They also use Twitter. And they have so many things to blog about...

- Y.S.: Cuban bloggers hope that the world will understand the diversity of opinions in Cuba. They need support to protect the security for bloggers ad others who voice their opinions. And there should be pressure from the outside world when it comes to the regime censoring / closing blogs.

- Y.S.: Things might get worse when it comes to freedom of speech on Cuba, very soon.

- Claudia Cadelo is about to speak. But the phone line might be down again.

- I think the phone line is up again...

- C.C.: Spread info about the Cuban blogosphere in social networks. And refer to Cuban bloggers as a source as often as possible.

- C.C.: Embassies from other countries in Cuba could open WiFi-networks for their surroundings.

- C.C.: Vitrual activism is punished in the real world. E.g. Cuban bloggers are not allowed to attend public events.

- Now, Eugenio Leal is on the phone...

- E.L.: Sometimes we share information on USB-sticks. And by fileshareing we gather and share info from the net and world media.

- E.L.: About the election question: PCC can never win. An survey proved that more than 50 pct. of Cubans want to change the system all toghether.

- E.L.: There will be independent candidates in the elections in the future. But the Secreet Police are leaning on them not to run.

 - E.L.: About Skype - It is not possibel to use Skype in Cuba. If you go to a hotel for a connection, they start asking where you got your money.

- Manuel Desdin: Cuban net technology is on "modem-level"...

- M.S.: EU do good things for democracy and freedom in Cuba. But more countries should do more.

- E.L.: The treatment from the government is getting worse. There is violence and "social apartheid" where bloggers are banned from events and places.

- E.L.: There are also blogs supported by the regime. They attack the free bloggers and are officially promoted.

- Dimas Castellanos: Things will change. We will use the case of freedom of expression / speech to break ground for other reforms and civil rights. We have already broken the Cuban regimes monopoly when it comes to information with (and about) the rest of the world.

// Flickr-photos from the event: http://www.flickr.com/photos/24005871@N00/sets/72157623553586666/ //

// Tweet-tag #cubanbloggers (Thanks @dichter) //

- D.C.: Democracy in Cuba - if / how: Cuba is a society without civil rights. We must have human rights, e.g. freedom of expression. We have a history of violence - but we must avoid repeting that part of history in the next transformation of Cuba.

- D.C.: The Cuban regime will not allow for even a slow transition to a free economy. The exhange rate is terrible. And clothes etc. sent as aid from Europe are sold - for dollars.

- D.C.: Even if the blocade would go, we do not have real money...

- And now a very emotional description of the situation for political prisoners. And an appeal to the rest of the world to put preassure on Cuba - to allow for inspection from human rights organisations.

- Benoît Hervieu: The EU must stop being so polite and accepting the Cuban regimes vague explanations and excuses.

- Reinaldo Escobar: We have many different opinions, but one thing in common. That is that Cuba should allow for all to have different opinions and to accept freedom of expression.

- R.E.: EU should connect more with the Cuban civil society.

- Franziska Brantner: We would love to. But we are blocked by the Cuban government.

- I´m not sure who, i Cuba: What do EU say about Cuba signing treaties about human and civil rights, without ratifying them later on?

- F.B.: It is better if they sign. Because then we can remind them.

- Laritza Diversent: What do the EP think about recent cases when dissidents e.g. have starved themselfs to death...

- F.B.: (Ansvers in Spanish. I didn´t get it.)

- All 20 bloggers around the phone in Cuba says hallo to you all - and hope that we will stay connected. With better connections.

- F.B.: (Says something, shurely very nice, and thanks everybody, in Spanish.)

OK! The event is over. Thanks for following. Sorry for any typos and misspellings. And please note that the text above not is quotes, but summaries of often long translations.


Jesus Maria Alvarez said...

As hard as you're trying to get a working phone line to connect with Cuba, the Cuban dictatorship is working harder to thwart your efforts. You may consider having a live video feed from the place of the conference for the next event using Ustream or a similar service.

Thanks for your efforts on behalf of Cuban democracy.

Mickey said...

A big hello to all the bloggers on the island participating, and a big thank you to The Embedded Citizen for this live window on the European venue.

Mickey said...

Question for the Cuban bloggers: Is all the foreign media attention helping you, do you feel more protected as a result?

Jesus Maria Alvarez said...

Will there be an audio recording of the conference made available and where can we find it?

Henrik Alexandersson said...

JMA: Yes, tomorrow.

Henrik Alexandersson said...


Your question is on the list.

Jesus Maria Alvarez said...

Thank you, Henrik!

Anonymous said...

If multi-party elections were held tomorrow, what share of the vote do you think the PCC would get?

Katriela said...

1) Do you think that now that people all around the world know what in Cuba really happen will help the Cubans?

2) Do you think that the Internet will help to awake the cuban people?

Anonymous said...

Although known outside Cuba, bloggers are little known inside Cuba, even among youth. Question for bloggers: is there a tool they can use so the people get info about them and if so, which one you think is the better one? Do you think knowledge about bloggers movement inside Cuba will cause any reaction among people?
J. Flores

Anonymous said...

People in Cuba are more worried with the everyday surviving than to accessing to internet. For bloggers: how do you think people would react between choosing access to internet or better life conditions (food, transport, etc)?
J. Flores

Jesus Maria Alvarez said...

One of the ways to help spread the truth about the efforts by Cuban bloggers who also use Twitter is by RT and translating their Tweets into other languages. For example, I follow Yoani on Twitter @yoanisanchez and whenever she post something I translated it into English and repost it to my own followers who in turn do the same for their own followers.

This is a very effective use of the new media in the fight for Human Rights around the globe.

Anonymous said...

The thing with tweeter is that outside Cuba is very easy to follow a blogger. However, inside, to tweet, you need cash. I'm not sure if to get the tweets inside Cuba they charge you, but it wouln't be a surprise. I don't think ordinary people will spend ther money on this, rather to use it for their private things. What I'm trying to say, is that the gov. has a system that creates apathy in people. They dont want to know about bloggers because there's other things to "resolve".
J. Flores

Anonymous said...

¿Han probado con SKYPE, para extender la información?

Henrik Alexandersson said...

JMA: While we wait for the phone line, I told about you translating Y:s tweets.

Anonymous said...

There you have Claudia, a brave girl claiming for her rights, directly in the face of "segurosos"...an nobody reacted. "Nobody wants to get in trouble", that's the main issue that needs to be solved.

Jorge Flores said...

Claudia, the idea with the embassies is a good one. However, are their governm. willing to accept the cost, either political or technological? Besides, i'm sure cuban governm. would try to block somehow the signal.

Jorge Flores said...

Henrik, did you commented my questions to bloggers?

Henrik Alexandersson said...

JF: There is a list that the moderator picks from. All questions / comments are forwarded...

Anonymous said...

Should there be a transition to democracy, what do you think would be the likeliest outcome for current regime and what, do you think, would the Cuban people want:

1) General amnesty (e.g. Spain case);
2) Truth commission but without judicial consequences (e.g. South Africa);
3) Some judicial proceedings (e.g. to some extent Cambodia)
4) something else.

Jesus Maria Alvarez said...

Thanks, Henrik. You are doing a terrific job keeping us posted.

Anonymous said...

Given the parlous state of the Cuban economy, why do you think the government refuses to open up to market reforms like Vietnam or China? What, in your opinion, is holding them back?

Jorge Flores said...

Thank you Henrik.

Jesus Maria Alvarez said...

J. Flores: "The thing with tweeter is that outside Cuba is very easy to follow a blogger. However, inside, to tweet, you need cash."

I was referring to translating and retweeting the posts from Cuban bloggers to the outside world, to spread the truth about their situation as it happens.

Advances in technology make this easier. Reinaldo Arenas had to smuggle his manuscripts out of Cuba. Electronic information is much easier to send out. YouTube, Twitter and other platforms gives us new opportunities that were not there before. These oppressive regimes thrive in the darkness. Once you can shine the light of truth and openness on them, they begin to crumble.

This is why Chavez in Venezuela has declared Twitter a "terrorist" tool.

Jorge Flores said...

Even with the whole world against cuban gov., it always managed to get out of trouble someway. I think the real solution has to be inside. Internet, tweeter, etc can help, but that will not be the solution. Somehow, the spark should be ignited inside.

Jorge Flores said...

J.M: yo estoy de acuerdo contigo. Lo ke kiero decir es que a pesar de ayudar, no creo que esa ayuda realmente cambie algo dentro de Cuba. O sea, si, nos enteramos, y? No estoy siendo pesimista, sino practico. Lo primero ke te dice un cubano si le mandas ese tipo de info por email es: "oye, no me envies ese tipo de cosas que tu estas alla pero yo todavia estoy aki", entiendes?

Anonymous said...

300,000 Cuban Americans visited the island last year, according to official figures. What kind of impact do you think that is having on ordinary Cubans if any? On public opinion about the regime and the USA?

Anonymous said...

As bloggers, Do you self-censor? How do you know the limits of what is feasible? On what information do you rely to know where the limits are?

Jesus Maria Alvarez said...

"- E.L.: There are also blogs supported by the regime. They attack the free bloggers and are officially promoted."

This is crucial information. There are a number of sites that mimic the opposition Cuban blog in an effort to discredit them and for the purpose of spreading misinformation, lies and government propaganda. Particularly targeted are those name that are well know internationally.

Jesus Maria Alvarez said...

Jorge Flores:

Saludos, hermano! Estamos de acuerdo. El cambio tiene que venir de adentro. Nosotros podemos apoyar y alludar el movimiento democrata distribuyendo la informacion que logra salir de alla.

La mayoria de la gente ignora la situacion en Cuba o creen la propaganda castrista.

Yo creo que el dia del retorno a la democracia y la libertad en Cuba esta cerca. Sobre todo por el esfuerzo y el valor de la gente joven en Cuba opuestas al regimen.

Jesus Maria Alvarez said...

Correccion: Ayudar, no alludar

Anonymous said...

D.Castellanos: totally agree with you. That's why I think the change needs to be from inside. Sometimes I think the only solution is biological.

Anonymous said...

What is your opinion on the Spanish government's effort to change policy towards Cuba? Will the proposed "human rights mechanism" help Cuban bloggers?

Anonymous said...

J.M: Me gusta tu entusiasimo, pero desgrciadamente no lo comparto. Soy cubano y conozco como operan las cosas en Cuba. No creo ke el gobierno ceda presion por "unos cuantos muchachos descarriados, penetrados ideologicamente". Asi presentan a los bloggers al pueblo, si les hace falta. En Cuba, incluidos los altos y medianos dirigentes, los militares, etc. no reaccionaran pq no kieren perder los supuestos "privilegios" que ostentan. Y como te dije, el pueblo tampoco pues le interesa mas lo ke van a comer manana, que informarse si tienen derechos humanos, etc.
J. Flores

Anonymous said...

For bloggers: don't you think is a better strategy to link human rights to everyday needs of cuban people? I mean, to show they have the right to get answers from goverm, the right to proper medical attention (so deteriorated now). I think is a better road to show that bloggers' speech represent people's actual needs

Anonymous said...

Franziska: How exactly cuban gov. blocks EU ? Please give examples.

Jesus Maria Alvarez said...

Thanks to all of those that participate and a special thanks to those that made this event possible.

Henrik: I will post a portion of your post on my blog https://cubiyanqui.com and also on my Twitter and Facebook pages. I will probably use some of the Flickr images you linked to as well. I will check back with you tomorrow to see if the audio is available in order to update the post with a link to the it.

Please let me know if there's anyway I can help in planning or advertising the next one of these, which I hope will not be too far in the future.

Thanks again. I am sending you a hug from New York City in the spirit of freedom and human dignity.


Jesus Maria Alvarez said...

The correct address for the blog is: http://cubiyanqui.com, there is no "s" following http.

Thank you.

costa rica retirement said...

The thing with tweeter is that outside Cuba is very easy to follow a blogger. However, inside, to tweet, you need cash. I'm not sure if to get the tweets inside Cuba they charge you, but it wouln't be a surprise.

costa rica retirement said...

The thing with tweeter is that outside Cuba is very easy to follow a blogger. However, inside, to tweet, you need cash. I'm not sure if to get the tweets inside Cuba they charge you, but it wouln't be a surprise.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing this link, but unfortunately it seems to be down... Does anybody have a mirror or another source? Please answer to my post if you do!

I would appreciate if a staff member here at theembeddedcitizen.blogspot.com could post it.


Odszkodowania Kancelaria said...

Thanks for this post!

mensajes claro said...

To @katriela ,
Do you think that the Internet will help to awake the cuban people? , Yes it will but now their internet connection is too slow.

Jackiepsxz said...

300,000 Cuban Americans visited the island last year, according to official figures. What kind of impact do you think that is having on ordinary Cubans if any? On public opinion about the regime and the USA?