Watching, Rooting, and Supporting this thing called "The New Cuba" (Cuba Specialist | Production | Sensei)

(Yoani’s “Carnet” card in Cuba)

The “Carnet” card is an ID card in Cuba. For example, it’s how you differentiate yourself to the cops, or when you pick up your monthly ration of eggs in a long line, or run errands in the formalities of socialism. If you forget the card at home, you risk being detained by the police in certain situations.

(Day in the Life. Taken with Yoani’s digital camera).

This post is mostly for the spanish speakers (sorry!)…. but Yoani has a very cool blog called Generacion Y based out of Cuba. She has gained an INCREDIBLE audience internationally on the internet. So much that the islands “powers-that-be” blocked her blog from Cuba’s readers. Locals see a message that reads “error downloading” when logging on. The rest of us however are free to read it as the government can’t mess with her server (which is presumably based in Europe). She lives in Havana.

How does she post? She used to sneak into Hotels or got “resourceful” in other ways to get on the internet (note: the internet is illegal to most Cubans). History is changing so fast that LITERALLY this week, Raul Castro, announced that Cubans can now walk into hotels (it was previously illegal for a resident to stroll into tourist spots). They can also own cell phones now. So maybe that means more diehard bloggers will emerge? It’s hard to tell. But it seems the government is loosening the valve of tension in some ways.

“I confess that I have been a bad girl” she posts about her blocked site. “So the anonymous censors of our famished cyberspace have tried to shut me in a room, turn off the light and not let my friends in”. She will however keep on living with “winking and severe scolding” (as she puts it) because she knows people out there are reading her. I’m sorta hooked myself.

The posts are mainly about daily activities — long socialist lines, who can buy a toaster, black market stuff, cool concerts, tourism thoughts. Some posts have up to 800 comments attached. Insane. But people are TALKING. Exciting.

She recently posted about the film The Lives of Others which screened at a festival in Havana, about the Stasi in 1984 (East German secret police) spying on an artist (The Lives of Others Trailer). It’s a story that is comparable to Cuba’s secret police called the CDR.

(The Lives of Others movie poster)

Her words: “The German film series, organized within the Festival del Nuevo Cine Latino Americano, brings us a story that might as well be a neighbor, or a friend or ours. We can confirm that this feeling of being observed is not a paranoid delusion in our minds, but the clear evidence of an espionage apparatus serving in the shadows.”

The Cuban government logo for the CDR is a 4 eyed Smurf that is painted all over the island as a reminder that the “Committee for the Defense of the Revolution” is always watching.

(Cuba’s CDR logo. Photographed by Angela Boatwright for East of Havana)

She then goes on: “Techniques such as intervening telephone lines, houses filled with microphones, or blackmailing someone with their darkest perversions, are tactics that the restless ones at the Interior Ministry have no copyright on.”

STRONG WORDS coming from a local Cuban…. Did I mention she’s an awesome writer too?

To read her blog, go to Generacion Y to keep up with “word on the street” in Cuba today if you are interested to see how this Revolution unfolds.

One Response to “Meet Yoani. Young Cuban.”

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