Does Cuba have Internet? – The Reality, contains information from a conversation hosted by Google on October 29, 2013, with Cuban blogger and dissident Yoani Sánchez. Yoani has become known worldwide for her efforts to disseminate information about the reality of living in Cuba under the Castro regime. Given the stringent control by the Castro regime of Internet access in Cuba, as described below, Yoani is what is called a “blind blogger” and “blind tweeter.”
Yoani relies on Short Message Service (SMS) technology to text information out of Cuba and relies on her network of supporters around the world to post her information on the Internet. Yoani is also prohibited from accessing the responses and comments to her posts, given Castro’s severe control of Internet access.
Does Cuba Have Internet?, Short Answer
Yes, Cuba has Internet, but only about 2% of the population in Cuba has Internet access due to Castro’s stringent control and censorship. The price to access the Internet is also cost-prohibitive for the vast majority of Cubans.
Does Cuba Have Internet?, Long Answer
Yoani stated: “We Cubans live in an island of disconnect. . . . We are the country with the lowest Internet penetration in the Western hemisphere.” She shared the following information: Cuba has a population of approximately 11 million people, and yet only about 2% of the people in Cuba have Internet access.
The Castro government reports that approximately 15% of the population in Cuba has Internet access, but that is not true. Yoani clarified that the 15% figure reported by the government is false given that it includes people who only have access to an Intranet, which means restricted access, or access only to email.
The government does not make it possible for ordinary Cuban citizens to have an Internet connection or land line in their home. Yoani stated:
“You must meet certain ideological prerequisites and be a highly trustworthy person to even qualify for Internet access.” In other words, the Castro government has to trust that one supports the dictatorship.
An Internet connection at a public Internet location costs $5.00 per hour. In Cuba, the average salary does not exceed $20.00 per month, thus making the Internet cost-prohibitive for the vast majority of Cubans.
The Castro government blames the American embargo for the lack of access to the Internet. The reality is that several years ago, a fiber optic cable from Venezuela to Cuba was installed, and is being used to provide public Internet access at different locations across the island.
The Castro government is fearful of the Internet given that: “A system that has based itself on the limitation of information and on the controlling of a narrative, cannot possibly survive the avalanche of information that comes from the Internet.” As such, “The government has the intention to depict the Internet as a battlefield, so they prepare a lot of soldiers to wage battle.”
“Despite all these restrictions, Cubans are very capable at circumventing and finding ways around all that is censured or prohibited.” Similar to the illegal “black market” in Cuba to buy food, there is a “black market” to get information, audiovisual files, and more.
“One important thing to realize is that the official narrative in Cuba has many avenues for dissemination and for propaganda, but the voices of dissent and opposition and free thinkers in Cuba have very few and limited avenues for dissemination.”
Yoani also shared that Cubans would like to be able to participate in the 21st century, not only in terms of finally having freedom of self-expression, but by also having access to modern technology, including the Internet.
The entire conversation with Yoani Sánchez hosted by Google can be seen HERE.
About Yoani Sánchez
Yoani Sánchez graduated from Habana University with a degree in Philology. She has received many awards worldwide for her efforts to disclose the truth about the Castro regime. Yoani created her blog Generation Y in 2007, which describes daily living in Cuba and the realities of the Castro regime. In 2011, her book, H*vana Real: One Woman Fights to Tell the Truth about Cuba Today, was published and subsequently translated into 17 languages.
As a consequence of Yoani’s efforts to disseminate information about Castro’s regime, she has been detained, beaten, and threatened by Castro’s government police. Yoani lives in Cuba under surveillance by the Castro government.
Many people around the world as well as many tourists who travel to Cuba, are not aware of the reality in which most Cubans live and have lived under the Castro dictatorship for the past 56 years, since January 1959. Tourists in Cuba have access to services, accommodations, food, and hotels, that the vast majority of Cubans in Cuba are not able to access, including Internet services. Censorship of the Internet and denying access to information is only one of the pervasive human rights violations routinely committed by Castro’s dictatorship.
May the people of Cuba and elsewhere, where human rights are repressed, breath freedom soon.
For more information please see Life In Cuba Today and the links below.
Additional Information About Cuba
The Escape – Cubans Escaping From Cuba, by V. Santamaria
Operation Pedro Pan, by V. Santamaria
Is Castro Cuban-Americans’ Hitler?”, by Charles Garcia, CNN
Castro’s Medical Mercenaries, by Susan Kitchens, Forbes