Saturday, July 23, 2011

Yoani's iPhone and Jesus' vision

Someone sent me a link to Can the Internet Bring Change to Cuba?, an article published in the New York Review of Books by Daniel Wilkinson.

Wilkinson posits that since the dissident blogs are seldom read in Cuba, their major impact is on the Cuban exile community, whose leaders have largely shaped US policy. He also credits them for being moderate -- not calling for the overthrow of the government, criticizing the US embargo, etc. Instead, he says, they tell stories of life in Cuba.

Wilkinson quotes several such stories told by bloggers, and the one that caught my eye and heart was posted by Yoani Sánchez, who, after seeing an iPhone surf the Web for the first time, wrote:
Between the walls of this house, that had heard dozens of Cubans talk of the Internet as if it were a mythical and difficult to reach place, this little technological gadget gave us a piece of cyberspace. We, who throughout the Blogger Academy, work on a local server that simulates the web, were suddenly able to feel the kilobytes run across the palms of our hands. I had the desperate desire to grab Rosa Díez’s iPhone and run off with it to hide in my room and surf all the sites blocked on the national networks. For a second, I wanted to keep it so I could enter my own blog, which is still censored in the hotels and cybercafés. But I returned it, a bit disconsolate I confess.
This quote immediately reminded me of the 1996 message Jesus Martinez sent to his colleagues in the then small global Internet community announcing Cuba's connection to the Net. Jesus felt the same power as Yoani, writing:
After so many days, years of sacrifice and vigilance, I have great satisfaction to announce that our beloved Cuba, our "caiman of the Indies," has been connected to the Internet as we had desired...A new era has just begun for us. We will soon announce our Web site and value-added services to do as much as we can to help develop our region and our culture.
I hope Yoani gets a 4G iPhone and Jesus' vision is realized soon.


PS Yoani wrote that her blog was blocked in Cuba, but some time later, Reuters announced that it had been un-blocked -- does anyone have a sense of how widely the blogs of Yoani and other dissidents are read and known in Cuba?