#SaferInternetDay / Regina Coyula

Regina Coyula, 7 February 2017 — Today is the worldwide observance of Safer Internet Day. Best practices should guide navigation for the benefit of the user; thus, she would never have the sour sensation that her Facebook page has been taken down for having undesirable content or that he has lost access to his email account containing all his correspondence–not to mention the disaster of a hacked web page–and all for not selecting a password other than “password” or “1234.”

Often when I speak of these matters, people stare at me in surprise or with frank indifference and think that “my contents are not secret.” I always say that mine aren’t either, but to maintain the security and privacy of my data is my right, even more so in a country where intrusive (bad) practices are part of daily life.

Translated by: Alicia Barraqué Ellison

Embezzlement Today / Regina Coyula

Regina Coyula, 17 February 2017 — The long laissez faire of the government with the “if you behave well, I look the other way” has given birth to a generation (just one?) of the cheerfully shameless, known generically as “fighters.” The nice denomination that began by being applied a few, no longer has color, sex or occupation. The common denominator is a very short wage for very long prices. Yes, those same people who cried in front of a photo with flowers* not yet three months ago.

Poles as distant as commerce and culture converge on this news that can only be half-confirmed because the official press never covers it without prior permission, and the friends, family, or co-workers of the enthroned acquired long ago the Pavlovian reflex of “not getting involved in things.” continue reading

The first of the cases, is in the Puentes Grandes Shopping Center, not yet three years from its opening and it already seems like a place in decline. There is an internet navigation room equipped on its opening with five computers and air conditioning. Something happened there that we have already become accustomed to. The PCs didn’t always work, the air conditioning didn’t either. In the room itself there was a counter with electronic devices such as USB memories, keyboards, headphones and the like, which was a point of sale for ETECSA, the Cuban Telecommunications Company that runs the place and maintains the monopoly of communications and as such keeps its users in a state between dissatisfaction and disgust.

And I speak about this in the past because no one can tell me if it will ever operate again; just very hastily in the parking lot an employee with a corporate image in a uniform one size smaller than necessary, acrylic nails, keratin-strengthened hair, and black-lace leggings, without raising her eyebrows or her voice, told me there had been a “tremendous explosion.” An informal taxi-driver on the hunt for a home refrigerator, was the one who told me that she was very pleased to be selling articles privately, much more cheaply than in the store.

It’s not just the stores. I remember, many remember, some fifteen or twenty years ago, the scandal in the International Relations Department of the Ministry of Culture, where artistic delegations were assembled without artists for the modest price of 500 CUC. Now it was the turn of the Council of Scenic Arts, and the information came from Colombia, Mexico or Central America with all the migratory connections, where some of the vigorous claimants of rights overseas, both university professors and lowlifes, learned to act although they never made it on stage. They demanded a red passport, that is an official one, authorized by the aforementioned Council that is supposed to authorize the travel of actors and theater groups.

Before, the same or similar matters had been in Heritage and Cultural Welfare and because of something missing in the works of art and some surplus in the construction works, appears to have been the reason for the exit through the back door of the previous Minister of Culture.

Even an octogenarian revolutionary fighter had amassed a modest fortune for the future, the future that was supposed to belong entirely to socialism. Barely two months after an anodyne article in the ’90s by Fidel Castro in the already anodyne newspaper Granma.

Nothing astonished Cubans, and from time to time we notice that corruption accompanies us wherever we go. The employee with the corporate image and the cultural officials as I already said, share the salary as a symbol. In the other case, I don’t know about you, but to me to the affair of the octogenarian fighter (for the uninformed his name is Héctor Rodríguez Llompart), tells me something about how things go among “the historicals” — as the original leaders and fighters of the Revolution call themselves.

*Translator’s note: A reference to Fidel Castro’s death

Translated by Jim

With Regards to ‘Santa and Andres’* / Regina Coyula

Cuban poet Delfin Prats

Regina Coyula, 30 January 2017 — In 1988 the Holguin poet Delfín Prats won the critic’s prize with his poetry collection “To Celebrate the Rise of Icarus,” and a friend of that time who didn’t want to see his name on my blog, on the night of the award ceremony brought Delfín to my house.

It was a moment of celebration and joy, because the prize came as a vindication of Delfín, a homosexual and poet in a provincial city. But that too was a trap.

In the middle of the toasts and after he dedicated his recent prize-winning book to me, I told him I had a present for him, and put into his hands “The Language of Mutes,” his David Prize winning poetry collection of 1968.

Delfín looked at me, looked at the book and broke into tears. It was the first time he’d seen the printed book, because that notebook in a landscape format did not circulate, it had been turned into pulp for including poems with homosexual content.

Translator’s note: “Santa and Andres” is a new Cuban film whose story revolves around a gay intellectual who was censored in 1980s Cuba. The government refused to allow the film to be shown in last year’s Havana film festival, saying that the plot of the movie “aims to highlight political persecution and attacks on the island that did not take place,” and that it follows “a course of action that is not consistent with history.”

The following video about Delfín Prats is not subtitled, but even if you cannot understand all the words, it is a delight to see his smile:

Three Days Without Fidel / Regina Coyula

Regina Coyula, 20 January 2017 — I was asked for this by a press agency, and they didn’t publish it. Then came the official reaction and we couldn’t have much time without his image. It’s like what a wise lady said in line at the pharmacy, “It would be preferable that the (National) Assembly approved an enormous monument, and not this Fidel that comes at us from all sides and doesn’t just die.”

Friday, already late in the evening, in front of the TV, idly I switch it on. Raul Castro is talking. A good part of the city was sleeping when the phones began to ring.

Perhaps for those who loved him, the reaction was emotional, but there is no surprise in the death of an old man who’s been sick for more than ten years. Yes, there is the irony that he was killed so many times, and now his death takes us all by surprise. continue reading

The programming continues and they even start playing a film, American of course. It was not until the movie was well along that they interrupted it to replace it with images from the documentary Fidel from Estela Bravo. It gives the impression that the TV directors never dared to make a plan for this moment; and on receiving directions “from above” that they began to look for film materials for the new days of “history and patriotism.”

It’s already dawn and groups of young people are coming from the Art Factory, their party having been interrupted. The drunkest obey the “on your feet!” that they learned in military or farming encampments, and add to the amusements and loquacious, “Turn on the TV, Fifo died!” These heralds continue on their way and others camp out in the park in front of the Acapulco Cinema; two girls dance little skip steps to their own music. It is a group without tears, these displaced from the Art Factory.

Saturday. A clueless man raised his eyebrows on hearing the news in the Tulipan agricultural market and continues on. Full as ever, the market is quiet without the loudspeakers; the buyers are very discreet moving quickly among the stalls to get a few vegetables at import prices.

In the morning there are still shops that haven’t received instructions to suspend sales of alcoholic beverages; a dry law and nine days of national mourning will be a tough test for those who live between hits of rum and reggaeton. I don’t see sad faces, rather serious ones. Or cautious.

Sunday. The television broadcasts endless materials about Fidel. Fidel at the UN, at a school, at a market, with Garcia Marquez, omnipresent Fidel.  Now he is a bigger star than ever, such a focus in the media, he who spent hours at the microphone on the national channel and on Radio Havana Cuba.

On the news, the announcers are dressed in black, they provide information about the funeral rites in the Plaza of the Revolution, the journey of the ashes to Santiago, the closing of the streets. On TV there are tears, but there is no children’s programming. And no one talks about causes of death.

My neighbor in the back, who has been so worried, talks with someone on the phone about the pills she has to take for the disgust. A woman is interviewed under the marquee of the Yara cinema, at the corner of 23rd and L. She is dressed in white and wears a black mourning band on her arm. She reads a poem about her soul being torn apart at the news.

Behind her, on the wall of the Habana Libre Hotel, you can see the enormous graffiti by El Sexto. “He left,” it says on the wall, and El Sexto is in prison for this graffiti with seconds of posterity on camera.

Monday. The buses are like always, going by full. Nothing seems to have changed, but in the workplaces and schools activities are suspended so people can go to the Plaza of the Revolution. At the base of the José Martí monument that have arranged sites with flowers and huge photo and the people file by.

No one stops in front of the photo where there are no ashes. The ashes are under control of the Ministy of the Armed Forces and the people don’t file past there. Many cellphones film the flowers and the photo. The real mourning does not happen on camera.

There is disgust and angry protests from those who spend hours in line and see groups of soldiers and people from other work centers who are allowed up the ramp to the base of the monument as soon as they arrive. A note of social indiscipline without public order to order it. The solution: to extend the hours of the line and people parading by until midnight so people can pay their respects.

In a country where saying yes while thinking something else has been a practice for years, we won’t know how many bottles were uncorrked, how many complicit hugs were given. But even those legitimately struck by the loss understand the before and after.

Fidel was in charge of embodying the Revolution. It doesn’t mater how many commitments we Cubans are invited to sign*, in an illusion of continuity. His phrase, “To change everything that should be changed,” will recur in the immediate future.

*Translator’s note: At the time Fidel died, the government asked all Cubans to sign a loyalty oath to his socialist ideology.

Impressions of a Novice (Part 1) / 14ymedio, Regina Coyula

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Regina Coyula, 8 December 2016 — A novice in Mexico and a novice in the Internet Governance Forum (IGF). The city surprised me because I had attributed to it a rural character it does not have. Zapopan and Guadalajara, to the eyes of a stranger, are a single city; one city with the equivalent of three-quarters of the entire population of Cuba. Many construction sites, many luxurious apartment towers that don’t seem to be inhabited, never mind the information from Miguel, my taxi driver to PALCCO.

PALCCO is the Convention Center and is enormous. The security measures are extensive, because it is a world event filled with people, including famous people, sponsored by the United Nations.

Numerous social, academic, journalism and other organizations have set up little stands in the entrance to present their programs. continue reading

Once inside the main building it is very difficult to orient yourself; an army of young volunteers, smiling and helpful, help you find your way in that labyrinth of meeting rooms and a place to have coffee.

I look at the agenda. All the topics are interesting and it’s hard to decide which to attend because up to ten sessions overlap at the same time. The technology is a wonder, because you can follow them on Youtube or watch them later.

For personal reasons I’m interested in the forums on public policy about access and internet rights, digital security, and surveillance; but I also attended sessions on other topics such as on-line education, and the lower levels of use among women, the disabled and minorities.

The sessions are in English and there is no simultaneous translation, which requires all my attention. Huge screens transcribe it and thus I can follow the topic.

I make the briefest comments on the panel on the Right of Internet Access in Latin America. I am listening to my Latin American colleagues, realizing the uniqueness of Cuba: not only has Cuba not ratified the UN covenants on human rights, but it voted against considering Internet Access a Human Right; and although the “cable” (Alba 1, from Venezuela) came to Cuba, the Internet has not come.

A synthesis that seems to be interpreted literally by another Cuban delegate, a woman representing the business sector, feels the need to remind the audience that Cuban has free education and healthcare, about the impact of the “Blockade” (the American embargo), and in my opinion, the most pernicious idea: the concern about giving people Internet when no one knows what they will do with it.

Here is the video with my comments, which occur roughly between 1:17:53 and 1:30:25.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BWpZ9PMFobk&t=1h17m53s

The Cybernaut and Digital Security / Regina Coyula

Regina Coyula, 7 November 2016 — The leaks of presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s emails and those of her campaign chief have revived a debate that began with evidence that the National Security Agency (NSA) was spying on communications, with both national and foreign politicians suspected.

But the NSA is not the only one, nor is the honor of those with the ability to spy verifiable. Under labels as sonorous as national security, sovereignty, media war, competition, soft coup, industrial secrets, etc., government spies, companies spies, and, on more than a few occasions, innocent people are those under scrutiny. continue reading

It is, on the other hand, the fact that the great technological companies have given way to government pressures and have delivered inside information. Furthermore, the companies supplying information and communications technologies possess metadata about their users which, in context, may be relevant.

No one watches over one’s personal interests better than oneself, so the protection of data acquires an individual character. Arguments such as having nothing to hide is weakened before the possibility of joke in bad taste that you cannot handle an email account because someone changed the password or erased the contacts; or following the jokes, you see your profile on the social networks with photos and comments that are not yours and spend enormous efforts to regain control. These would be the simple cases.

It seems that the foregoing and what follows are only loosely related. The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), which was until last month was under the control of the an agency of the Department of Commerce of the United States Government, has been turned over to an independent agency with the management of multiple interested parties.

This transition has been a subject of controversy regarding the roles appropriate to each one of these multiple actors.  Representatives of controlling governments and some founding entities that, to save themselves from the hegemony of the great powers and of the great businesses of the sector, a minding international regulation is necessary for the use of cyberspace.

They have put into place a closed model with the services of the internet but without internet (for example, Reflejos, Tendedera or Weibo), which favor control of information traffic. In the name of a 20th century mentality, they try to put something as global as the internet in a straitjacket.

The most modern and predominant vision supports the strengthening of ICANN as a global and autonomous organism with a transparent management, in such a way that neither governments nor great private entities could take control of this institution whose functions include more than just naming and numbers. These names and domains and IP addresses allow access to data such as the source and destination of data packets.

The concept of global internet on a fragmented model puts the human being above any other interest with the intention that their approach to the network is free of any monitoring, whether to track their tastes and inclinations for commercial purposes without their consent, as well as their right to inform and be informed to avoid the search of the sites they visit and with whom they communicate.

Whether one lives in a democratic state, or not, is not determinant when the time comes to protect personal data, although it could seem more important in some places than others and, in some cases, determinate of the integrity not only of data, but of one’s physical self: journalists who report on complex scenarios and issues.

Every cybernaut has an idea of the importance of protecting their bank accounts and social network accounts, but digital security, more than a right, is also an obligation. An urgent obligation in complex environments. Even mega-corporations have tried to distance themselves from the lack of confidence that is created by giving out private data and putting in users hands the tools to strengthen the securities of their communications and interactions. It has been a joint achievement of organizations and people who insist on behaving responsibly in the face of the privacy of the numerous but also most indefensible link.

Some basic recommendations for better digital security:

1. Implement complex passwords for one’s devices and accounts.

2. Use email accounts that have two-step verification.

3. Use instant messaging services that are encrypted end to end.

4. Use blog platforms with double verification.

5. Always think before sending a text, and image a video that could affect you or third parties.

6. Check (insofar as is possible) the integrity of programs and downloaded attachments.

Goodwill / Regina Coyula

Regina Coyula, 20 October 2016 — It is said that the choice of the word “embargo” or “blockade” to define the US policy toward Cuba, clarifies the position of the speaker-writer. Those who speak of the “blockade” are not better Cubans than those who call it the “embargo” (although they believe themselves to be). It is a policy that doesn’t depend on Cubans; not even the international community can eliminate it.

A goodwill gesture on the part of my leaders would be the elimination of the internal blockade to which we are subjected, in the name of the country and the imperialist threat. Clearly, although this policy toward Cuba has been dismantled little by little, it is there and we will have to wait for the goodwill of the American government for its total disappearance. continue reading

“The international community has denounced the US embargo because it violates international law, and also for moral, political and economic reasons.”

This quote is from a report by Amnesty International and reflects the rejection of the extraterritorial character of the set of laws that makes up the embargo. The bold text is intended to bring out the fundamental reason for the widespread rejection of this body of law, which is its extraterritorial nature. International law prohibits any national law to be applied beyond the country ’s borders. The Helms-Burton law is extraterritorial and retroactive, as it applies to events prior to the adoption of the legislation.

The Cuban citizen has become accustomed to hearing only about the damage the blockade  has caused and continues to cause in our economy and society; this citizen ignores in many cases the origin of these measures versus those taken in response to it, but above all, it serves as a smokescreen for domestic disaster resulting from a willful and failed policy. Neither the US blockade nor the one caused by our government have affected even for one second the life of our leaders.

The Flame Tree of Discord / Regina Coyula

Flame trees in Havana, dropping their petals int he street. Source: Caridad, Havana Times
Flame trees in Havana, dropping their petals in the street. Source: Caridad, Havana Times

Regina Coyula, 3 October 2016 — A powerful flamboyán tree, in English often called a flame tree, dominates the entrance to my house, more beautiful at this time of year with its explosion of fire, which also provides shade and spreads its colorful petals across the ground.

But two of my neighbors don’t see it that way; they dislike the dirtiness of it and feel obliged to sweep the sidewalk almost every day. And they protest greatly, but I never feel it’s about me, even though the other day they were gossiping and not imagining that I could hear them, one of them said, “I’m breaking my back over that filth, and ‘la Señora’ (a marked edginess in señora), who owns the bush acts like it’s nothing.”

I am not the owner of the flame tree, I didn’t plant it, it is in the parking strip and it is beautiful; and the señora sounded very nice coming from one trying to mark a difference between us. And so, without reaching for her style — inimitable for me as I am neither volatile nor rude — to her surprise I told that that the flame tree isn’t mine, but the red flowers that line the sidewalk don’t bother me at all, unlike the bags, cans, boxes and other trash that lines the city, product of indolent humans.

Between Analogue and Ideologue. Internet Access in Cuba / Regina Coyula

Ideas shared at the Internet Governance Forum events of the Internet Society of Latin America and the Caribbean, which recently took place in Costa Rica.

Regina Coyula, 5 August 2016 — Now recognised as a human right by most people and most governments, internet access in Cuba has been a bumpy road. Cuba connected to the internet in September, 1996. The first dial-up internet access, by telephone, was via government information offices, although some users could access email .cu from their homes.The speed of the noisy connection through a modem some three or four years ago, hardly got to 50-56 kbps.

In 2010 news came out of the extension of a powerful underwater fibre optic cable, from Guaira, Venezuela to Santiago de Cuba. According to the report, this cable would be the solution for data transmission speed; we would no longer depend on satellite connections. When the cable reached Cuba, for nearly four years its use was a mystery – something was happening, therefore there must be something there. The last mile, most of us thought, was the expensive technological challenge which was delaying access for the public. But a solution was found in the form of wifi connections. continue reading

In a little under three years, they opened internet rooms in diifferent parts of the country, at a charge of 4.50 cuc an hour. That availability did not increase until 2015 with the provision of wifi points in principal town centre locations. ETECSA (Government-owned Cuban Telecoms Company) only offers services at home to foreign residents in Cuba, to officials and to certain personalities and journalists.

There are various information networks which make up the internet (Informed, Cubarte, Rimed, Upec, etc.). The great majority of their users don’t have internet access in their homes. Those who do, have an access packet of 25-100 hours a month.

Universities, and some colleges, offer access. Students have an increasing allocation (250 Mb a month in their last year of study).

When you hear talk in the press and in international forums about percentages of access to the internet, above all they are referring to the above-mentioned Internet which is generally limited to .cu sites, to an email provider and some news sites.

Cuba, with illiteracy erradicated, free education, and with a high percentage of university professionals, technicians and skilled workers, has the lowest level of internet penetration in the region.

One hour of connection now costs 2 cuc, and the average salary is about 20-25 cuc a month. People use their connection time mostly for communicating with family and friends. Use of mobile data in the CUBACEL network costs $1.00 CUC for every MB and is only available by going into the email service @nauta.cu.

In the broadcasting media you often come across references to negative aspects of the internet, such as child porn, racism, violence, loss of privacy, which influences people who only know the internet by hear-say. The government is the only IT service provider  and importing routers, hotspots and other digital tools for private use is prohibited by law.

People don’t know about the power of social networks to help them get organised and achieve consensus about things which matter, from local issues up to the desire to elect the President of the Republic. In fact, many people imagine that Facebook IS the internet.

The internet has not been free from profound ideologisation. If the terms of the embargo laws imposed by the US government have particularly impacted IT, it is our duty to insist on the importance of eliminating the internal blockade on information and vindicate the open and democratic character of the internet, wihout any censorship of the contents or personal opinions inside or outside of the web.

An additional factor in Cuba is that video gamers, prevented from gaining access to the real internet, have put together a cable connection which is free but contributory, which nowadays is not used just for games but also for online chat and the notorious Weekly Packet, which the authorities prohibit  but cannot sanction as it is not for profit.

Priorities

  • Lower access cost
  •  Improve the quantity and quality of connection locations
  •  Attack digital illiteracy

Objectives

  • Initial public discussion on the Media Law
  • Public education by way of courses on browsers, digital business, social networks, cyber security, ethics, etc. In Council computer clubs for kids.
  • National education channel
  • Open access internet
  • Transparency over payments for internet connections in order to improve public access
  • Permit private connections at market price with equal transparency and for the same reason as the above.

Make public internet connections, where you now have to pay, free.

Translated by GH

Domain Names and an Internet Debate / Regina Coyula

Regina Coyula, 30 June 2016 — For Cubans who update their home entertainment weekly with the now famous, private and anonymous Paquete (Weekly Packet), they are familiar with a subtitle in bright, greenish-yellow letters at the beginning of the movies. This inevitable “http://www.gnula.nu” which comes up so much, piqued my curiosity. It was impossible for me to recognize the country that corresponded to that extension, so I resorted to the always-useful Wikipedia.

Surprise. The country of the pirated movie site that we see at home is Niue, an atoll with airs of a small island, assigned to New Zealand. In 1996, a North American (who doesn’t live in Niue, of course) claimed rights to “.nu” and, in 2003, founded the Internet Society of Niue, which allowed the local authorities to convert the quasi-island into the first wi-fi nation of the world. They supplemented the offer with a free computer for every child. Nothing spectacular; we’re talking about a population of barely 1,300 inhabitants. continue reading

The irony is that the .nu domain generated enormous income, while the inhabitants of Niue not only didn’t enjoy those gains, but also wanted to be connected from their homes and not from the only cyber-café on the island, and they had to pay for the installation and the service.

I also discovered another curiosity. The second extension that is most used on the Internet after .com corresponds to another little place in a corner of the Pacific that few know about, a group of little islands barely 11 square kilometers in size. Tokelau is the name of the place whose domain .tk hatched in 2009, upon offering itself for free. Today it’s the virtual home of hundreds of thousands of websites of doubtful integrity, although, contrary to Niue, the administrative earnings of the island’s government have benefited the infrastructure and services.

The form in which the geographic domains are managed on a higher level (ccTLD) is very different. The Internet Corporation for the Assignment of Names and Numbers (ICANN) has left it to the discretion of each country to do what it likes. Many countries keep them privatized, although in the hands of institutions or businesses created for that purpose, while in others it’s an entity attached to a state agency.

The ccTLDs (country code top-level domains, geographic domains of a higher level, which, for better understanding, is the name that the extensions receive that identify each country or geographic region: .cu for Cuba, .ru for Russia, .mx for Mexico, etc.) are even more curious.

Both forms of operating the ccTLDs described above have advantages and disadvantages. Deregulating the extensions shifts the balance toward the higher-profit businesses to the detriment of agencies, NGOs and institutions with social and cultural goals. This diminishes the influence of the governments, which can have a negative effect on the sovereignty of countries that are economically fragile, or on young or small countries.

State-regulated administration tends to protect social and cultural interests, and successful management can increase earnings, which has a positive impact on national life. It also happens that governmental norms for buying a ccTLD can be restrictive or discriminatory, protected by a deliberatively vague regulation to be applied at the discretion of the government.

In the Latin American environment, Argentina, the only country to offer its site for free and with millions of websites with the extension .ar, decided in 2014 to charge for them. In Chile and Nicaragua, administration is through the public universities. In Guatemala, it is also through a university, but a private one.

In Uruguay, regulation is by the State through the National Association of Telecommunications (ANTEL); in Venezuela by the National Commission on Telecommunications (Conatel); and in Cuba through the Enterprise of Information Technology and Advanced Telematic Services (CITMATEL).

Colombia reflects a debate similar to what is happening in other countries. A private enterprise manages its ccTLD, and 89 percent of the owners of the .co site are foreigners located outside the country which, far from violating the national identity, internationalizes Colombia and carries its trade name to the entire world. What underlies these debates is the idea that the market is imposing itself on cultural values, and national governments can do little in defense of their intangible patrimony.

But in short, who governs the Internet?

Any recently-arrived observer would say that the United States governs it. The institutions and most of the servers destined to organize what would otherwise be chaos are located in its territory. And the well-known ICANN, located in California, which assigns domain names (DNS) to the IP addresses, has a contract with the Government.

Businesses that have a lot of influence on the Internet, like Microsoft, Google or Amazon, are also in the United States. But this concept is changing: It is expected that in September, the process of transition for the custody of IANA, the authority for the assignment of domain names, will no longer be under the U.S. Secretary of Commerce, in order to give ICANN authority and independence.

Other parties that also participate in the Internet have interests opposed to this current asymmetrical influence. International organizations like the Commerce of Intellectual Property (OIC) or the International Union of Communications have been incorporating together with ICANN. Virtual space is modifying the notion of sovereignty, with the added danger for equality and diversity, so that the term “governance” is important in the designing of policies, where governments, civil society, businesses, academics and technical innovators merge.

In the same way in which the technical innovators have guaranteed open access to the Internet from any type of device, it is up to the governance to establish policies, even when they aren’t binding, to guarantee freedom of expression and information, full access to the Internet and limited control.

Translated by Regina Anavy

My Absence at the Meeting / Regina Coyula

Regina Coyula, 25 April 2016 — The political police, who consider themselves such faithful followers of Jose Marti, know that with regards to the battles of thought, they’ve lost. Thus this weekend’s operation to prevent me from participating in a meeting in Pinar del Rio was unnecessary and ridiculous. Following is a report from the meeting.

The Coexistence Study Center Begins its Second Meeting of Thoughts For Cuba

Convened by the Coexistence Study Center, for 23-24 April in Pinar del Rio, the Second Meeting of the Journey of Thinking and Proposals for Cuba, with the participation of more than 20 Cubans from five provinces began today. continue reading

The theme of this Second Meeting is “Legal and Constitutional Transition” and its objective is to propose a set of laws that provide a secure framework and facilitate the reforms Cuban society needs. And, as a result, to prepare, with citizen participation, an orderly and peaceful constitutional text that will lead the Cuban nation to a future of freedom, social justice and progress, transitioning from law to law without traumatic ruptures.

The result is expected to be published on the Center for Coexistence Studies website, once the proposals have incorporated proposals from the session held in our Diaspora Center, as well as the proposals for  “The Cuban economy in the short, medium and long term.”

The debates and creative workshops on thoughts and proposals are animated by the presentations of renowned Cuban jurists among whom are Lic. Rene Gomez Manzano and Lic. Laritza Diversent, who, although she was prevented from leaving her residence in Havana to participate in the meeting in Pinar del Rio, offered her lecture by telephone.

When one wants to work and think for Cuba nothing it is impossible. Also prevented from participating in this meeting was Pedro Campos, a member of the Academic Board of the Centre for Coexistence Studies and Regina Coyula. All other guests were able to attend.

Dagoberto Valdes Hernandez, director of the Center for Coexistence Studies, said in his opening remarks for this second academic session that “Cuba needs organic thinking and constructive and feasible proposals emanating not only from experts in each topic, but also from an increasing citizen participation and broad inclusive consensus building , for the good of the whole nation.”

Trash and Condoms / Regina Coyula

Regina Coyula, 4 May 2016 — The residents of 13th Street in Havana’s El Vedado neighborhood had quite a night on the eve of May Day, let’s say atypical. Near the intersection with Paseo, the gallent young people who would close the parade the following day camped out.

According to the Secretary General of the Cuban Central Workers Union, these young people would “make the Plaza tremble and would be a faithful reflection of the support of the new generations for study, work and defense, their usual trenches.”

Mobilized early in the morning and deposited there, the gallant ones decided to have fun as if they were on a camping trip; and before shaking the Plaza they shook the neighborhood. They pulled out their bottles, improvised some percussion and some farsighted soul brought a trumpet. But the improvised music didn’t compete with the reggaeton. And this was “shared” with great enthusiasm with all the neighbors.

With the parade, tranquility returned, and the neighborhood was able to observe the effects of the camp out: Empty bottles and other detritus.

“Trash and condoms! That is what we have left from May Day!” exclaimed an indignant old man in the area who had the task of cleaning out the passageway of his building.

Rafael Alcides, Chapter 7: The Stranger / Miguel Coyula

This video is the 7th in a series of vignettes extracted from a four-hour interview of Rafael Alcides conducted by the filmmaker Miguel Coyula. Below are links to the previous Chapters.

‘Rafael Alcides’ Chapter 1: The Beautiful Things / Miguel Coyula

‘Rafael Alcides’ Chapter 2: Artists and Politicians / Miguel Coyula

‘Rafael Alcides’ Chapter 3: About Beauty / Miguel Coyula

Rafael Alcides, Chapter 4: Once Upon a Time in Biran / Miguel Coyula

Rafael Alcides, Chapter 5: The People / Miguel Coyula

Rafael Alcides, Chapter 6: Capitalism in Cuba – Before and After / Miguel Coyula

The Backyard of My House is NOT Special* / Regina Coyula


First Screen:
There have been threats of drastic measures to be taken against any who do not comply with maintenance guidelines, and owners of vacant houses who have not had them fumigated. What you will see here is an open space of state property located just 30 yards from my house. All that’s needed is a light rain.

Last Screen:
Regina Coyula
Theme Music: The Mosquito’s Bite
J. Rudess; J. Petrucci
14 March 2016

*Translator’s Note: This is a take-off from a line in a Spanish-language children’s nonsense song, “The backyard of my house is special: it gets wet when there’s rain, just like the others.”

Translated by: Alicia Barraqué Ellison

16 March 2016