Why Cuba couldn’t control the internet
The Cuban Communist Party has lost the battle for the internet by failing to understand it; by believing that fear and punishment alone - their chosen tactics for street protests and university classrooms - can silence dissent. Looking back on that period now, it feels downright prehistoric: in order to publish our writing, we had to disguise ourselves as foreigners and visit Havana's few internet cafés, which restricted access to Cubans and charged high prices to tourists. Renowned professionals devoted months of work to programming these parallel networks - only to realize that the virus that is the internet had already irremediably infected the Cuban people. Despite the high costs of internet usage - still prohibitive for the majority of the population - Cubans found ways of peeking into the World Wide Web. Then came everything else: the first images in over 50 years of a Cuban presidential caravan being booed by a crowd protesting the delay in aid for storm victims in Havana on February 1, 2019; the searing mockery of a venerable Sierra Maestra comandante who, in April 2019, suggested we eat ostrich as a solution to the chronic food shortage; the anguished sobs of families who lost three daughters on January 28, 2020, when a balcony collapsed on top of them after years of warning signs. Cell phones connected to the internet were the ideal infrastructure for chronicling the protest. The internet is a terrain that Cuba's Communist Party is forced to traverse but does not fully understand.