The Cuban Regime Lost Its Monopoly on Information With the Arrival of ’14ymedio’

In the last ten years, the will for change has reached the majority of the Island’s citizens.

The large demonstrations of 11 July 2021 in numerous cities across Cuba shook the bases of power / Facebook / Marcos Évora

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Ariel Hidalgo, Miami, 23 May 2024 — If I were to describe in words what has happened in Cuba in the last ten years, I would say: a desire for change. An awakening to the reality in which Cubans lived had already occurred among the greater part of the population, although  hidden by the veil of double standards. Almost no one believed in a promising future under that system, but except for a small minority, the only hope for liberation was solely individual: leaving the country.

In that decade from 2014 to 2024, the will for change began to gradually arrive for that majority, and I think we could identify three key years: 2014, 2018 and 2021. The fact that we are celebrating the ten years since the birth of 14ymedio is significant in that process, because it was the first independent digital newspaper made in Cuba. The totalitarian regime began to lose its monopoly on information.

The era of the information society had arrived in the world, but countries like Cuba and North Korea tried to put obstacles in the way of the spread of this technology among the population, because by its very nature it was antagonistic to the dominant totalitarian powers, a mechanism  whose general form Marx himself had discovered almost a century and a half ago: the development of the productive forces entered into contradiction with the relations of production, only now these productive forces were no longer represented by the machinery of the typical factories of industrial society, but by personal computers, mobile phones and the Internet.

These relations of production, represented by totalitarian structures, became a brake on their development

These relations of production, represented by totalitarian structures, became a brake on their development, because their leaders realized the eminently subversive nature of those inventions. In 1991, there had been a massive protest in Regla, a municipality in the capital, over the murder of a young man at the hands of the Police, but in the other neighborhoods of the capital almost no one knew about it until the next day – and some still haven’t found out – due to the lack of effective communication. If it had been today, in a few minutes the entire country would have found out, from San Antonio to Maisí.

But since this process of information technology could not be stopped, because one could not live with one’s back to the world, Cuba had to open up more to a large part of the population, although timidly, in 2018. This exchange of ideas through blogs and of social networks was generating the will for change. And the following year this change became evident when in the constitutional referendum, despite so many irregularities and the fear planted in the people, accustomed to always agreeing – “so as not to look for problems” – power had to recognize that at least – among those who did not vote, those who annulled the ballot, left it blank or voted no, almost a third had refused to vote affirmatively.

Between 2020 and 2021, various acts of protest took place, especially in Havana, such as hunger strikes with the solidarity of many people, sit-ins in front of government offices, support from local people for victims of police abuse and even a strike among drivers. And finally, all this led, with the San Isidro Movement and the artists’ protests, to what we all already know: the large demonstrations of 11 July 2021 in numerous cities in the country that shook the bases of power.

Those demonstrations and other subsequent ones have been brutally repressed and there are still hundreds of protesters imprisoned

Although those demonstrations and other subsequent ones have been brutally repressed and there are still hundreds of protesters imprisoned, the contradictions that caused them, far from being resolved, have become even more acute, which is why, if I published, weeks before that memorable date, that the “Cuban nomenclature sleeps on a tinderbox,” now that the burden is much worse, a whisper in my ear tells me that something very big is going to happen.

Nor is the exile the same one to which I arrived in 1988, directly from a cell, the one where the oldest exiles predominated, amazed that the people did not rebel and that the Army did not carry out the military coup that they had so long expected, convinced that the dissidence that was being talked about was a false opposition manufactured by the dictatorship, which is why they threatened to kill me and even went to plant a bomb on me that by mistake caused havoc in a neighbor’s house.

Fortunately, that exile was little by little receiving the successive doses of reality brought by the mass exoduses. One day I will tell about when, immersed in deep discouragement, I abandoned everything and went to Florida International University (FIU), not to teach or receive classes, but to pick up trash from the university campus, and I met those simple workers, noble men and women recently arrived from the other shore and I received from them a transfusion of hope, the hope of a new Cuba.


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