Yoani Sanchez, the Cuban dissident and world-renowned blogger, called on the phone from Havana today to address the We Have A Dream: Global Summit Against Discrimination and Persecution:
Fortunately for me and many Cubans, technology has permitted us to project our voice both inside and outside the island, to be able to reach those places where our government does not permit us to travel.
But the path to end the censorship and the state monopoly over information is still a very long one for us. Precisely on that topic I want to speak to you today — of the personal civic drama that signifies not being able to significantly access the new technologies and especially the internet.
We are a nation locked in the 20th century; we are still unable today to navigate in cyberspace. We need to pass through an ideological filter, or pay a very high price that is inaccessible for our salaries. Only the very reliable functionaries, the foreigners in our country, or the communicators from our official sector, can have access to internet from their homes. The rest of the Cuban citizens are condemned to an information blockade.
And for that reason, today, at this forum, I want to denounce the crimes against connectivity that the Cubans are suffering, in not permitting us to gain access to other information…the citizens of this country are being victimized by a crime against journalism and mafia.
It is a violation of our rights to be denied knowledge of what happens outside and inside of our national frontiers. Nevertheless, despite these restrictions, human rights activists, non-conformist citizens, and non-conformist artists are finding the way to express and spread their voice.
The magnificent tool of blogs and Twitter have served us as a substitute to the free press that we do not have. From the small country in the east of the country, from the places where no one has ever seen a computer connected to the internet, through cell phones, Cubans are able to tell our story. Messages going out through Twitter are like an SOS, a call for help that is able to leap over the wall of control.
Technology has protected us. We have avoided in many cases that the repression would be excessively harsh with us. Each minute that passes that we Cubans are not permitted the massive access to the technologies, are years and years that we remain behind professionally and as citizens.
International community: please, pressure Cuba, so we could feel like individuals of this millennium, and interact with the citizens of the world on an equal basis. To get information today is to get democracy for tomorrow.