OFFLINE ( documentary about the lack of internet in Cuba)


This is the world’s most educated people,
but I’ll control the flow of information; I’ll let you study at universities
and access high-level information, which is valid for everyone, but once you graduate, you won’t
have access to the internet or any other media, and won’t be
allowed to watch satellite TV. It’s like paving the way for you,
broaden your horizons as a student, but when you need to make use
of everything you’ve learned, they’ll build a wall around you
or slam the door in your face. Our chances of having
a future-oriented society depends on the ability of people
to think for themselves. We’re being affected by the fact that maybe people like you and me
know what Facebook is, but 80-90% of college students
don’t know what it is. So I think the first thing
we’re going to lose is this notion we have of being one of Latin
America’s most educated people. In the next 5 years we are
going to realize we are not. Maybe not everyone
is ready for everything, but many of us need it
and we are ready for it. In Cuba, not many people have access
to digital information technologies. Many young people are eager
for knowledge, to use technology, but they’re not receiving
the attention they deserve. Cuban media has…serious issues. We have serious issues
regarding our TV and radio… Cuba’s social network,
if it actually exists, that is our network of web pages. We can’t get my granddaughter’s
attention like they used to get mine. In this sense, I do believe
there has been some aging. The Cuban government strictly controls
everything that’s related to ideology and the media. In their view, they are showing
people the right things, what people need to understand
and know about the world. I’m worried about
our younger generations, whose access to information
has nothing to do with what’s on TV or what their textbooks say
or what it’s said at UJC meetings or what younger students are told. It is a different universe, with different concepts,
means, values and feelings. What the Cuban radio, TV and newspapers
are saying won’t change their minds. It’s like the media didn’t have
access to the internet. Someone said to methat they don’t like watching
La Mesa Redonda because
the panelists present themselves
as members of an oligarchy that have access to the internet
and pride themselves on it. They keep saying, “They are saying
this and that on the internet.” And what’s the point? You’d better give me access to
the internet and I’ll find out for myself. That “other look into things”
doesn’t exist in our media. Not even in a show that
was conceived for discussion and what they call “Battle of Ideas.” There’s only one idea. In order to have ideas, in plural,
we need different points of view to be set out in that show.When I see this cartoon,
Once Upon a Time…Life,
there is this character, “The Master,”
who is the nucleus of a cell. He is an old man with a beard. And that bearded old man
makes the decisions in the cell and informs others about it. There’s a similar old man
in the brain as well. If they can’t manage,
that’s not our fault. You’re not here to criticize,
but to coordinate. They don’t seem to be in a rush. -Then we have to make up for lost time.
-Listen to me! That creates an illusion, a fallacy. And that’s precisely the existence
of a master control center just like we picture it:
a room full of smart people who manage disaster relief, combats or even rule over a country. But this is fallacy. Neither cells nor the brain
work like that in human beings. There isn’t an area in the brain
where you can find the ego. It is wired in a way that it operates
in a decentralized manner. And it works! That why we’re alive. Internet is like this, too. Due to its conception and design,
and because of the way it is today, the internet is a paradigm
of decision-making and the free flow of information. I think the internet model
is a lot more suitable for a more fruitful, fair
and less boring development of society in Cuba. Information technologies,
mainly what is called Web 2.0, somehow destroys
or makes more complex the unidirectional flow of information. That is, recipients not only can
compare the information they receive from one source with the information
received from other sources, but they can also generate information. This creates a complex
situation for the Government. In Cuba, it doesn’t make much sense
to compare the information you get from Granma with the one you
get from Juventud Rebelde or the news. There’s no contrast.
There may be a few minor changes, but they all have the same viewpoint. You even get the same pieces of news,
which leaves a lot of information out. And it’s always a discourse
from a privileged position of power. When a journalist, a critic, a person
–either a man or a woman, or young or adult– wants to research that phenomenon,
obstacles begin to emerge. You won’t have access
to information; ministers, vice-ministers and officials
will not give you any interviews; it becomes very difficult to get
alternative sources of information; there are no dialogs in relation to
a given piece of news or information; there’s no investigative
journalism in Cuba. I think it’s funny how they have applauded
American documentary maker Michael Moore for his work against US society,
the powers that be, the media, the role of a number of corporations
that control information in the US. But I’d like to see a Cuban
version of Michael Moore. A Michael Moore who goes to
a province, a ministry, the army, a government building, like
the venue of the Central Committee looking for the other side of the coin,
with a different view on things. In Cuba, different is
associated with dissent. And dissent is associated
with counterrevolution. The result is that all opinions
contrary to the official version are usually seen as suspicious
by the powers that be and labeled as “playing
along with the enemy” or “this is not the right
time to talk about this” or “people are not ready
to deal with this now.” They are always suspicious of others. But that discredits, first of all,
decision-makers in the media sector. I know many of them would
like to do things differently. Our biggest problem
is this struggle we have, this strategic conflict
within our society between people who hold power
and people who don’t, people who hold power but
don’t want to lose their jobs and don’t care about changes in Cuba, which could be either
for the best or the worst. And that is really alarming because we have adapted
to this society we’re living in. This society could develop in different
ways, toward different scenarios. Unfortunately, there have been societies that have failed
precisely in the 20th century. It would be sad to see something
like this happening in Cuba. It’s important to learn
to interact with, operate and use technology. In that sense, people who do not
have access to new technologies are lagging behind, isolated from the dynamics
of today’s world. They are, simply put, lagging behind.
And in this case, they’ll become dysfunctional people, even illiterate. I haven’t seen that kind
of social development. I don’t much about the internet.
I don’t have access to it. I don’t know what it looks like. My brother is almost 35 years old
and has never seen the internet. No. The fact that not everyone has
internet access is creating a gap. I have never wanted to live
anywhere else but Cuba. But not being able to access information
is affecting me a great deal. That’s the kind of literacy
campaign I’d like to see. Not focusing only on teaching computer
science in a technocratic sense, or for people’s enjoyment, in relation to what
the internet has to offer. The more information we receive, via internet now, although
there will be other ways soon– The more information we receive, the greatest our need
to drift apart from criticism. And it can be accomplished, in part, through education, off-line education. Then, people will learn to use
their discerning potential and will begin to realize
what is and what isn’t true, what has been fine so far
and what needs to be rebuilt. That’s the only way to make sure
that the impact of digital means is going to be a positive one on this
society, from this generation onwards. The truth is that objectives
and interests in human beings in relation to their roles
in society and life are still the same. Humans have continued to strive
for self-fulfillment and happiness. In that sense, the ideas of people
who lived a long time ago could be of help. If Martí had had a computer
or a web page or e-mail, he would have relied on it to organize
Cuba’s War of Independence, the one he called
“Necessary War.” Martí, Maceo and many other rebels gave
their lives to put an end to the Spanish rule. Then, the US troops stripped
Cubans of their victory. Many of our heroes were tortured and died so that
Cuba wouldn’t become a US colony. That’s why I cannot condone
that after 50 years of Revolution someone from Spain or the US is
entitled to things Cubans are not, such as having access
to the internet. So, your nationality becomes
a problem, an obstacle. It’s easy when you are
from another country. What would be really
beautiful is that we, the ones installing a cable
or creating an infrastructure or suffering the consequences
of policies or any other thing, were the ones having
access to the internet. However, we are not. 100% of Cubans with internet access,
have it through institutions. Martí believed in the potential
of scientific development, and believed that said
potential has no limits, that it is infinite. Matí always demanded a little bit more
from science for the good of mankind. Always from an ethical
position, that is. Martí said, and I quote, “The day will come when
man will be able to carry –like they carry time in their watches–
light, warmth and strength in some tiny device.” Cell phones are great means to give
everyone access to the internet, mainly through smart phones. We are a poor, underdeveloped nation. However, in other poor undeveloped
countries, even in Latin America, everyone has access to
cell phones and the internet. And prices are quite reasonable.
And that makes you wonder. A nation that turns its back on technology,
is doing so on the world, too. That’s how I see it. It’s impossible to turn
your back on technology. Opening up to new technologies is more
than necessary: it is a requirement, because that’s what’s going to bring
money, people and information. Technology is what’s going
to fuel the world in the future. And you can’t turn your back on it, because living in a society that
doesn’t understand technology is like living in a society that will not
be able to adapt to the future. We would be like Neanderthals in
a world where everyone is using Wi-Fi, cell phones, tablets, and
the technology available today. We are restraining ourselves. It reads, “No Children Allowed.” Could you imagine what it would be for
children to have access to information, for artists to be able
to represent themselves, for us to make imports and exports? I think that’s the kind
of change that we need. Instead of me being allowed to
refill lighters or work as cobbler or sell pizza, I should be able to make business,
be financed with foreign capital. And the internet would facilitate
the take-off of our economy, and access to knowledge,
freedom, pleasure, everything. On many occasions they
have used real obstacles, because the US embargo is real,
as ways to evade the real problems. And I think the real problem
is that they are afraid. Access to knowledge in Cuba
will not be regulated by the market. The title of that article is out of keeping
with the measures that have been taken. I am a professional but I don’t
have access to the internet. Defending access to knowledge
is part of a State policy. The State has been acting accordingly,
and knowing it will continue to do so as ratified by the Vice-Minister,
is reassuring. According to the interviewee, “Our
model is based on the principles of a just and inclusive society,” but
the rates are evidence of the contrary. That’s something
we’ve been crying out for. The pace of life
in Cuba is really slow. Are you the last ones in line?
Who do you come after? In Cuba, we waste a lot of time. In Cuba, life is still analogical. There’s fear of what we
could do with technology. Sometimes, we are ignorant of
what we could do with the internet. Si it’s best to tell people,
the public, that the internet is bad because there is pornography, or
you can learn how to make bombs or Cuba is subject to
attacks on the internet. But that’s just a part of it. We need to get rid of the notion
that our enemy is going to use our words against us.
But we live in Cuba, and we’re all shaping our nation. No one is going to do it for us. I urge young people, mainly those who know
more about computers, like the ones who are studying
at CUJAE and UCI, to use responsibly the little
access we have to the internet. There are many things we can do, but we still need to see how
far we’ll be allowed to go and how far we can push for the implementation
of civic measures so that these chances
come into fruition. Thirty years ago, in the 1980s, there were e-mail debate
forums in several countries. Australia comes to mind, where
there were many of these forums. They gave rise to people, like J. Assange,
who’d make an impact in today’s world. And were people ready for it? I was a biochemistry major at the time. In 1994, I began working at the Center
of Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology in Havana, Cuba. It is also known as CGEB, which
was one of the first institutions to implement an intranet in Cuba. As a result, internet standard practices
had already been implemented at CGEB. Around that time, CGEB workers learned
about the existence of the internet through specialized channels and conditions began to be created
to connect Cuba to the internet, just like with the e-mail. We already had
the basic technology to, in addition to e-mail,
have access to the internet. back when it was still emerging. I remember that several
workers at the CGEB received training regarding
the use of the internet. I always thought
we were wasting time. And every time they’ve
made me believe –because that’s something
they make you believe– that we, as a nation, are still
not connected to the internet is a waste of time, Because the internet is a reality and the fact that we are not part of it
means we’re living in a different time. The ship with the optical fiber cable
was followed by Cubans meter by meter and when it finally arrived, it created
great expectations among users, regarding what the contribution
of that cable would be. “Let’s buy computers because this cable
is going to give us access to the internet.” How come the cable from
Venezuela was installed in 2011 and the only people with access
to the internet are the ones the Government thinks actually need it. With the arrival of the optical fiber cable
we can access international websites, once the use of the cable is authorized. The use of the cable
hasn’t been authorized, so we have to keep on waiting. TESTS BEGIN FOR THE ALBA-1
UNDERWATER CABLE INTERNET TRAFFIC INCREASED PUBLIC ACCESS
TO INTERNET IN CUBA ACCESS TO KNOWLEDGE WILL NOT BE
REGULATED BY THE MARKET IN CUBA CUP 450=CUC 150=EUR 13.70 CUC 4.50=CUP 112=EUR 3.33 25% OF AVERAGE SALARY Quality of life changes notably for people
who can easily access the internet. If there were easy access
to the internet we wouldn’t have these lines because you would buy
things over the internet. Something that might take 20 minutes, could take you a whole day
because you don’t have internet. It is simply a tool we need
to do our work and communicate with other people. At the greatest think centers
and universities worldwide, theses, term papers, projects,
programs and researches are prepared by using
e-mail, SMS and the internet. In 2012, you don’t exist at all
if you’re not on-line. I can show others my picture
a lot quicker than analogically. Not everyone has a phone,
let alone access to the internet. I’d like to go on-line– It’s too expensive.
It’s difficult and expensive. And way too slow. What are you talking about? All Cubans would like to be able to pay
for internet access in Cuban pesos. Of course! Apparently the government
has no interest in us having access to the internet. Everyone should have
access from their homes. Is it risky? Of course.
Everything in life entails risks. This lack of culture
is what’s dangerous. Internet speed at hotels allows you to download
and watch videos on-line which tells you we do
have internet in Cuba. People could influence
what movies theaters show. People could also influence the plans for food supply or agricultural production. And many other things as simple as
buying a plane ticket to go to Oriente. I think an intranet would
solve many problems just the way it is now. There’s no need to be afraid.
We can expand our intranet. But why an intranet? Internet is part of our
right to communicate. In Cuba, there’s lack of information,
there’s no free press, which is why internet access is so important. Additionally, access to
information is a human right. Of course it is our right,
but it entails risks. People have never been
prepared for change. Change is always more complex and imply a transformation
of reality that is more radical that what any citizen can foresee. That’s both vital and inevitable. No one was able to predict
what happened with the radio. No one even saw it coming.
However, the radio prevailed. No one ever imagined what
television would accomplish. We’ve had to deal with the problems that
have been caused by TV and the radio, but no one has ever thought, “These problems are too serious.
We need to eliminate TV and the radio.” I think it’s very important that the
internet be taken into consideration to build the future democracy
we will have in Cuba. Sooner or later. By “true democracy” I mean one where we all can take part
in the decision-making processes, where we don’t have to wait
for someone to decide that we can travel abroad
or stay in a hotel. We need to overcome that obstacle. We need to socialize the
decision-making process and its execution, which is
one of socialism’s mainstays. This dream of emancipation, and
volunteer work for the community, through which said community
can satisfy its own needs, in this case, a global community, which is what communist
thinkers always envisioned, is becoming a reality
through exotic means, including the internet and
the open-source software. This has even been satirized by saying that instead of
having the Internationale unite communist parties, the real socialization is
happening on the internet, which is uniting personal computers,
rather than communist parties. I think social networks, the internet
and new technologies give people a chance
to create, say things, exist, be heard, communicate,
engage in dialogs. Young people who work with
new technologies in Cuba do so in an attempt
to put it all behind, forget about our lack of resources, and try to overcome
that lack of resources, and pretend we have
solved those problems. They assume a positive
attitude and say, “We’re going to solve this and we
need to be there when it happens.” I feel the need to leave my children
a world that’s better than this. I feel that, in the future,
my son will be able to say, “I have access the a number of
sites my dad never had access to.” I rest assured that I will have
greater access in the future. Or at least I hope so. And that helps me carry on. And not just me, but many others
who contribute to the magazine and share my viewpoint. I think that’s what we need,
for people to get moving. I’m a visual artist. Since 2005, I’ve been
experimenting with new media art.I’m a member of the staff
of Esquife, an on-line magazine.
I’m one of the editors
of La Letra del Escriba,
which is a literary magazine published
by the Instituto Cubano del Libro. It’s a printed magazine
which also has a web site.We decided to name it Black Hat.Basically, I am the editor and one of its founding members.Observatorio Crítico is editedby a group of people who have
engaged in social activism. My main research subjects
have been José Martí and women in history. My name is Gustavo Arcos and I work at the Audiovisuals School
of the Higher Institute of Arts. I teach Cuban cinema
and I am a movie critic. I am a political scientist and I’d like to know what is
happening all over the world. That’s what I need internet access for. I don’t what the internet is. I’d like to access the internet
in the comfort of my own house like everyone else,
but Cubans, that is. It’s going to be a while
before it becomes massive. I want internet access
like politicians have it,like Randy on La Mesa Redonda.I don’t think that internet access
should be financed by Cuban citizens. The Government should do that. I love political jokes. Free internet? No! I’m not paying CUC 4.50. Before mentioning internet access I’d have to mention the many,
more serious issues we have here. Like salaries, which are not enough
given the current cost of living. Not everyone can afford
CUC 4.50 an hour, not on our current salaries. I feel I have a disadvantage. The fact that I can’t access the
internet regularly at affordable prices, even though I have a job,
is a complete backwardness. It’s embarrassing to see
TV shows make fun of us recommending that we e-mail them or
post comments on Tweeter or Facebook and internet-related things that
people can’t access from their homes. Why can’t internet access be free
like education and health care? It’s a right we have, isn’t it?

Danny Hutson

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