Yoani Sánchez – Cuba’s Underground Revolution


Good afternoon and thank you for being here. My name is Yoani Sánchez. I’m a blogger, a journalist and I come from a country called Cuba, which 55 years ago had a revolution that has become the longest-ruling dictatorship in the Western Hemisphere. This man and his political party converted my country into a military establishment where every citizen had to become a soldier. A country of people that had to accept orders, and not ask for rights. In order to achieve this, the justice system and tribunals became subservient to the Communist Party and the ideology in power. Executions by firing squads, jailings, and the mass exodus of millions of Cubans were also consequences of this government. Even the intellectual and creative world had to subordinate itself to the ideology in power. But as a journalist and blogger, the most dramatic thing for me is the absolute monopoly of information that the government has. Imagine for a moment that you go to the local news stand to buy a newspaper and you can only buy the official press, the government press, the ideological press. For decades, that was the situation in Cuba. Fortunately, at the end of the 1980s and the beginning of the 1990s, a new very interesting phenomenon was born. It was independent journalism in Cuba. It was a time when having a type writer or an old Soviet camera could land you in prison or make you seem like a very dangerous individual. In 2003, 75 people opposing the government, many of them independent journalists, were sent to prison and given long sentences. Because in my country, information is considered treason. Fortunately, technology also came. New technologies have begun to break the government and the Communist Party’s monopoly on information. Despite the limitations and the lack of connectivity, Cubans today have a different version of what is occurring. We’re the country in Latin America with the least internet connection. In Cuba, there are less than one million computers, and we have eleven million inhabitants. Only two million people have the luxury of owning a mobile telephone. The official figures say that there are three million people on the internet, but this is a lie. In reality, most of these people can only connect to a very limited national intranet. It is not possible to have a direct connection from your home to the internet. In the whole country, there are only 118 public places where you can connect to the internet. A Cuban today must pay one third of his monthly salary for one hour of internet. I’m sure you might be asking yourselves: “Well then, how do you do it?” We’re a very creative people. We’re a people that has to learn to submerged itself in the underground black markets to purchase food, clothes, or household items. We’re a people used to finding that which is forbidden, censored, and rationed. And this is exactly what we’ve done with information. Despite the censorship, it is enough that one person connect to the internet for a few minutes, and this person will then nourish the networks of information. Our government has copied the Chinese model of censorship of the internet. Thousands of censored websites, especially those that address human rights and news coming from the Cuban exile community. An enormous army of cyber policemen to attack critical voices on the internet. Even our own small newspaper, born last May and only in existence for four months, has already been censored on national network connections. Despite this, I’d like to present to you the hero of the day. This little technological item is helping break censorship in my country. From hand to hand, and in a clandestine way, it is inside these flash drives that forbidden websites, censored information, and opinions that national television would never broadcast are carried throughout the island. A small technological revolution. The day there is a democratic change in Cuba, we will not only have to put up monuments to dissidents and those who opposed the government, but we will also have to put up a monument to flash drives. What goes inside these flash drives? Everything. My own blog Generation Y. News from abroad, written by exiled Cubans. Sites as harmless as classified ads websites. Everything may be forbidden by the government, but there is always a method to find it. Most importantly, voices and images of those who are oppressed by the Communist Party are also arriving. Through these underground networks, we are able to get the images of repression and the acts of repudiation. We are able to get the images of violence that the official press would never publish. We hear the voices of those who think differently from the government. This is José Daniel Ferrer, a Cuban opponent of the government from the east of the country. In addition to being very active in the streets, he films and uses the alternative information networks to distribute updates on his activities. This is Berta Soler, leader of the Ladies in White. A person well known in Cuba thanks to these information networks. And this is Guillermo Fariñas, European Parliament’s Sakharov Prize laureate. Many of his opinions, speeches, and interviews circulate on the island thanks to these networks. In a system that has censorship as its fundamental pillar, these networks are essentially acids that rust the system. A system that has depended on silence is very fragile when people begin to speak. And so today I have wanted to show you this quiet and small revolution we are living in Cuba. As opposed to the 1959 revolution, this one will not lead us to dictatorship, but instead to democracy. As opposed to the revolution 55 years ago, this one does not have weapons, it has flash drives. And as opposed to that revolution, this one does not want to form soldiers, it wants to form citizens. Thank you very much.

7 thoughts on “Yoani Sánchez – Cuba’s Underground Revolution

  • yoany toda una profesinal conosedora de la realidad cubana ,por mucho que los nazis castristas traten de opacarla no podran porque ya hay millones de yoany en cuba .

  • Que agradezca que nacio en Cuba por que entra y sale de la isla cuando le da la gana…..No como Edward Snowden que ahora tiene que estar oculto en cuba.

  • arriba yoani Sánchez tú le das duro tan sólo con hablar y explícale al mundo la verdad la realidad del pueblo cubano Dale que están llorando por su impotencia de no poder contra la verdad que tú prédicas y vive dentro de Cuba

  • YOanis Sanchez es una comunista. Porque no revela su propuesta economica para Cuba? Sigue siendo la pionera socialista aquella que se casó con otro super-comunista que escribia en juventud rebelde.

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