With the goal of expanding access and governmental control of social networks, computer scientists are working to create a microblogging service, modeled after Twitter, for Cuban nationals on the network .cu
According to Kirenia Fagundo, named as leader of the project CubaVa, “Pitazo” is the name of this cyber initiative which will allow network users to exchange short phrases, individual images, or video links.
The information was disclosed by the official Cuban Agency for News and Information and is in keeping with efforts the Island has undertaken to present an image of openness toward internet use and social networks.
Since last June, a total of 118 internet locations are available throughout the country for public access to the internet with the aim of expanding the number of service locations and hours. However, these operations continue to be controlled by the State monopoly ETECSA and the Minister of Information and Communications (MIC) through the server Nauta to which is added the high cost of connecting. The browser with plenty of access to the network costs of 4.50 CUCs per hour.
Numerous Cuban users of Twitter are part of what’s called “the swarm”: those members of the media and official institutions who have integrated themselves using false profiles to carry out the “battle of ideas” on the internet.
Constructing the Store
In addition to Pitazo, the group CubaVa will launch a digital site with the suggestive name El Estanquillo which will apparently post national and international press articles.
In September some Cubans became the first users of a platform of blogs called Reflejos which contains 275 personal pages.
Meanwhile, for the great majority of Cubans, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other well-known applications are only news that are difficult to access and at a cost prohibited by their pockets and options.
In a report by the organization Freedom House regarding internet freedom in 2013, Cuban ranks among the worst countries in the world in terms of connectivity and one with immense government regulation.
In Cuba, which has a population of 11.2 million people, 15% are reported connected to the internet according to official statistics. But, this figure includes those who access only email or the State internet system without the ability to freely navigate the internet.
The last report from the National Office of Statistics (ONEI) indicated that in Cuba there are only 74 computers for every 1,000 inhabitants. ETECSA has promised to deliver internet access to Cuban homes in 2014.
October 23, 2013
Translated by: Marlene Temes