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Francisco Castro: I was born in Santiago de Cuba in 1984 and I have lived in Havana since I started studying at the Higher Art Institute in 2004. Being a homosexual in a traditionally homophobic society and not hiding it automatically turned me into a revolutionary. As a young person convinced that other people can always be better, makes me live in the middle of a thorny garden, and I get hurt a lot. So I decided to find a machete and cut each branch and do it here, right smack in the garden. The one where I was born, that I love more all the time by choice, because it’s mine. My life is that search, that of the machete. I also seek help, to find it and to clean the garden.

Will Cuba Get On Line?

April 14, 2014 | Print Print |

Francisco Castro

The fiber optic cable reached Cuba 3 years ago.

HAVANA TIMES — The news zigzag their way through Cuba’s online media and down the grapevine. Some say it’s coming, some say it isn’t. It might be this year, there may be plans underway – maybe, we’ll see. In the midst of all this chatter and contradictory news, the arrival of an Internet connection accessible to us simple Cuban mortals – for there are Cubans who aren’t mere mortals, and not only because they have a home Internet connection – seems within sight.

I start jumping with joy. After all, I could soon become an Internet user. The red alert button, however, soon starts to flash – and not precisely as I start to speculate about what the price of the service could be (as the history of “Cuban progress” prompts us to do), but when I begin to think about the quality of this future service.

I of course agree that everything should be computerized and paperwork reduced to a minimum. In Cuba, however, the positive side of progress always comes hand in hand with shoddiness, ignorance and the conformism and hyperbole that any action undertaken by a Cuban entails.

Here are two quick examples:

1- Digital registers were set up in pharmacies across Cotorro, a municipality on the outskirts of Havana. Now, pharmacists need only scan the barcode on the medication and this makes the service exponentially faster.

But, what happens when…the network is down?

Well, the pharmacists have to find another way of registering the medication they sell, making the service exponentially slower.

2- The civil registry and identification card offices in Havana have been computerized. Now, fingerprints are taken using an optical device and photographs with digital cameras. This way, if someone needs a new ID card, they can have it the same day they apply for it.

But, what happens…when the network is down?

Everything simply comes to a standstill. After you’ve stood in line for hours, since early in the morning, they tell you, with a peremptory tone, that they don’t know when the network will be up and running again – which boils down to having wasted your day there.

We would all be very happy if these were isolated incidents.

What I mean to say with all this is that, if we intend to impel a “technological revolution”, the least we can do is set up an infrastructure that can respond to such elementary and needed changes in modern society.

Otherwise, we will only be repeating the failures and embarrassments that line the history of our country. And we Cubans are more than fed up with such disasters.


What's your opinion?

  • Moses Patterson

    …one step forward, two steps back.

    • pipefitter

      Agent Moses, you know that optic fibre equipment is very expensive and Cuba has many more important items to resolve first before buying equipment to make more home installation possible. We have several friends and family who comunicate with us by internet. They use the internet through a gov. empresa, doctors, universities or pooled timeshare private internet connections.

      • Moses Patterson

        Comrade pipefitter, you may not be aware that several foreign telecommunications firms have offered the Castros a deal where they would pay for the infrastructure at little cost to the dictatorship in exchange for a long-term contract to provide internet services. The Castros rejected these offers. The Castros are providing internet to the Cuban people only because of international pressure to connect Cubans to the world. They have no interest in expanding the internet to homes where it will become even more problematic to monitor what Cubans see and what they send out to the world.

        • John Goodrich

          Is it less costly for the Cuba government to do what it is doing that to hire on a foreign firm at whatever they charge.?
          If you are in the Cuban leadership, how do you reconcile spending money on that when there are food shortages and the government is responsible for providing both ?
          And the U.S. is weakening Cuba’s economy in order to sink the revolution and this bears hugely on scarce resources.
          What percentage of a small poor comparable CAPITALIST country’s population has access to computers compared to Cuba and NOT comparing Cuban computer access to that in the U.S. which is asinine on its face . ?
          Have you had any luck in your research into finding out who the nine predecessors to Malcolm the Tenth (Malcolm X) were ?
          The rest of you…don’t spoil it and tell him .

          • Moses Patterson

            The Tenth? Is that what you think the X means? What a putz. Cuba has the lowest percentage access to the internet in the hemisphere. These foreign companies offered to provide internet service at a cost LOWER than what Cuba can do for themselves.

  • John Goodrich

    Within ten years both the technological and financial problems involved in computerizing Cuba will be resolved when the U.S. war on Cuba ends in the next ten years.
    We all must be careful here to not compare computer service in a warred-upon Cuba with that of the very wealthy United States .
    you’d have to pick another developing and poor nation with which to compare Cuban service to be fair and bear in mind all the while that the U.S. is crippling Cuba’s economy on which better computer access depends.