Five Things You Need to Know About the Lack of Freedom of Speech for Cubans
1. The Cuban government refuses to acknowledge the existence of independent media, outside of the island. The dictatorship wants their citizens only to view and read filtered information; which is what the government provides them with.
2. Activists and human rights defenders are being threatened daily, imprisoned, and even tortured for attempting to bring freedom of speech for Cubans.
3. The United Nations Human Rights Council met in May of 2013 to evaluate the state of social, cultural and economic rights. The report submitted by the Cuban government differed dramatically from the reports of actual Cuban activists and many non-governmental organizations.
4. The internet in Cuba is one of the most censored in the entire world. For the most part, it is only legally accessible at expensive hotels and other tourist hot spots.
5. Yoani Sanchez is one Cuban woman gaining popularity for her widely read blog concerning life on the island amidst the rigid restrictions.
Yoani Sanchez: Fighting for Freedom of Speech for Cubans
Yoani’s blog is actually read more outside of Cuba than in her homeland. This is due to severely limited web access by her fellow citizens. To combat this, she has printed her blogs on paper, burned them to CD’s and downloads them to USB drives. It has become a sort of underground railroad network where one person uses the hotel internet to download it onto one of the aforementioned means in order to pass it on. This is how many Cubans are finding access to the internet without actually being connected via a computer. Yoani’s blog is helping to enhance freedom of speech for Cubans.
Yoani also opens her home to teach her fellow Cubans, workshops on methods for obtaining information, how to go about starting their own blogs concerning all the human rights issues Cubans face. With more than half a million followers, her Twitter via SMS messaging has become another way of getting around the lack of freedom of speech for Cubans
While there has been a considerable amount of backlash from the government, it has actually worked in Yoani’s favor as it has exposed the injustice in Cuba to the international community. There is a new film documenting the fight for freedom of speech for Cubans, along with two other female bloggers in Iran and China. Its aim is to give a platforms for these women’s stories and display how powerful the Internet can be where repression is the norm.