Rob Sequin | Havana Journal
I was fortunate to be invited to be a panelist at the Roots of Hope conference session about connecting with the Cuban people scheduled for Friday April 8, 2011.
Instead of a Power Point presentation, I wanted to write this article featuring information and links to numerous blogs from writers who live in Cuba along with humanitarian organizations from the US that are connecting with the Cuban people in their own way.
Cuba Connected: Reach Out, Connect, Inspire
In recent years stories from young Cubans on the island have gained worldwide recognition in unprecedented ways. Much has contributed to this including increased travel to the island and changes in laws both by the Cuban Government and Foreign Governments toward Cuba. But primarily it has been due to individuals who are committed to lending a helping hand and making sure the world cannot ignore what is going on. Our guests will discuss not only what they have done to spread awareness for young Cubans but what more can be done empower Cuban youth and give them a voice.
Moderator - Cristina Fernandez, Raices de Esperanza
Consuelo Isaacson, Caritas Cubana Catholic Charities
Manela Diez, Professor at Georgetown University
Rob Sequin, Havana Journal
Manny Hidalgo, Latino Economic Development Corporation
Independent Voices from Cuba
Since all media in Cuba is controlled, influenced (or at least monitored) by the Cuban government, it is a real challenge for individuals to have an independent voice in Cuba and equally as difficult to have their voice heard outside of Cuba. However, computers and the Internet have allowed many to get their word out of Cuba so people around the world can have an independent view of life on the ground in Cuba.
Listed below are the blogs and media sources that are connecting with the world outside of Cuba.
Of course the most famous Cuban blogger is Yoani Sanchez who has endured many personal and physical acts of intimidation from the Cuban government. She felt the need to start blogging due to the many difficulties of everyday life in Cuba. When she began blogging several years ago, Cubans were not allowed into tourist hotels, but with her “European” appearance, and ability to speak German, she routinely managed to get into hotels with internet access so she can write her blog. Today her and many other bloggers share digital information by swapping flash drives due to low internet connection speeds and the fact that independent journalism is illegal in Cuba.
Her articles have been featured in numerous prominent international publications and blogs. In 2008 she won the Ortega y Gasset Prize for Journalism and many other awards since then.
An English translation of Miriam Celaya’s blog from Cuba says that Miriam is a Habanera of the island, belonging to the generation that has lived torn between disillusionment and hope, whose members reached adulthood in the controversial year 1980. She has published collaborations in the digital magazine Encuentro en la Red, for which she created her pseudonym. Miriam started Sin Evasion / Without Evasion under the pseudonym Eva Garcia but in her entry of July 22, 2008, she came out from “behind the mask” and posted her photo and name.
Network of Independent Cuban Bloggers
In the lower right sidebar of Sin Evasion, other Cuban blogs in addition to Miriam’s and Yoani’s from Translating Cuba are listed.
Crossing the Barbed Wire
Desde Aqui / From Here
Iván’s File Cabinet
Photos From Cuba
Post Revolution Mondays
Retazos / Fragments
The Children Nobody Wanted
The Voice of El Morro
Through the Eye of the Needle
Voices Behind the Bars
Volunteer to Translate Cuban Blogs
If you would like to help Cuban bloggers with translation, Hemosoido enables volunteers to offer translation services. If you would like to offer Spanish to English translation assistance, click on the British flag and you can view all the Cuban blogger posts queued for translation.
Mr. Escobar has his own voice in addition to his wife’s voice… internationally known Cuban blogger Yoani Sanchez. He is an activist in his own right and has been very successful connecting with the outside world as well.
He has been an independent Cuban journalist since 1989 living and working in Havana. He received his degree in Journalism from the University of Havana in 1971 and subsequently worked for different Cuban publications. His main website is Desde Aqui but you can find his articles written at Cuba Encuentro, Desde Cuba and the Huffington Post.
Miriam Leiva and Oscan Espinosa Chepe
Miriam Leiva and husband Oscar Espinosa Chepe publish the Cuban Reconciliation blog Reconciliacion Cubana which offers analysis of current economic, political and social development of Cuba.
Ms. Leiva is an independent journalist and human rights activist who was a senior official at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for twenty years but was fired after her husband was deemed to be a counter revolutionary in 1992.
Mr. Espinosa Chepe is an economist and independent journalist who was arrested in March 2003 in the “Black Spring and sentenced to twenty years in jail for his political views but paroled for health reasons.
Ladies in White
The Ladies in White or Damas de Blanco also are not among the Cuban youth but they are getting their word outside of Cuba advocating for better human rights.
Palabra Nueva, represented at the conference by Orlando Marquez, the magazine of the Archdiocese of Havana was founded in 1992 in response to the call of Pope John Paul II to give a voice to the Catholic Church in Cuba and to maintain dialogue and communication with the Catholic faithful. In addition to religion, the magazine focuses on the Cuban economy, culture, sports and more.
The Archdiocesan Council of Laity of Havana also publishes a Catholic magazine in Cuba titled Espacio Laical that is also not controlled by Cuban state media. It features dozens of independent authors.
Mr. Paya has been a “dissident” for many years and is the leader of the Christian Liberation Movement and organizer of the Varela Project. His has tried for many years to change the Cuban government’s hard line against human rights. He has been very successful over the years using the Internet to get the word out about his work.
Cuban American Blogs
Manuel A.Tellechea reviews Cuban American blogs so his Review of Cuban-American Blogs is a good resource for this information.
Reaching Out to the Cuban People
Above I have posted examples of how the Cuban people are connecting to us. Below I post examples of US organization connecting with the Cuban people. All the trips listed are scheduled for 2011.
Common Ground Travel
This company has a long history of organizing cultural and educational trips to Cuba. These professional research trips are open to full time professionals interested in full time research in Cuba in their field or in a field directly related and applicable to their work.
>>>Graphic Arts & Printmaking in Cuba
>>>History of the Cuban Revolution
>>>Public Health in Cuba
>>>Education in Cuba
>>>Social Work in Cuba
>>>Historic Preservation in Cuba
The Evangelical Christian Humanitarian Outreach for Cuba offers organizes trips to Cuba in order to provide humanitarian aid to churches. Travelers can learn first-hand about the condition of life in Cuba and observe ongoing missions and interact with Christians working with local churches.
Witness For Peace
Witness for Peace is a politically independent, nationwide grassroots organization of people committed to nonviolence and led by faith and conscience. Witness for Peace’s mission is to support peace, justice and sustainable economies in the Americas by changing U.S. policies and corporate practices that contribute to poverty and oppression in Latin America and the Caribbean.
>>>Research Delegation for Health Care Professionals
>>>Professional Research Delegation for Educators
>>>Research Delegation for Lawyers and Legal Professionals
Pastors for Peace
Pastors for Peace celebrates and honors the achievements of young people in Cuba and features annual caravan trip to Cuba so travelers can learn about daily life in Cuba as they visit organic gardens, neighborhood projects, health centers and schools. In July 2011 the caravan will travel in school buses, trucks and cars along 12 different routes, visiting 130 US and Canadian cities along the way. At every stop they will educate people about the blockade while collecting construction supplies and tools, medical supplies and equipment, educational and cultural supplies that will be donated to the Cuban people.
Their Cuba program concentrates on: Healthcare and Education; Art and Culture; Economics and Politics; Environmental Protection and Sustainable Development; Architecture and Urban Development. Global Exchange organizes research delegations to Cuba, customized tours for humanitarian organizations, educational institutions and religious groups. These are the upcoming 2011 Cuba trips:
>>>Cuba Organic: Revolution & Evolution
>>>EcoArts: The Ecology of Music, Dance and Cuban Culture
>>>Culinary EcoArts in Cuba
>>>Fiesta del Fuego
>>>Public Education: From Pre School to a PhD
>>>VIII International Conference on Environmental Protection and Sustainable Development
>>>Health Care and Alternative Healing in Cuba
>>>Business, Foreign Investments and the Economic Future of Cuba
>>>Health Care, Nutrition and Wellbeing
>>>Cuban Women in Sustainable Development
>>>Arts, Culture and Architecture
>>>Sustainable Agriculture and Urban Gardens
>>>Sustainable Cuba New Years: Health Care and Alternative Healing
>>>Sustainable Cuba New Years: Public Education: From Preschool to a PhD
>>>Sustainable Cuba New Years: Environmental Protection and Sustainable Development
>>>Sustainable Cuba New Years: Sustainable Architecture and Urban Planning
Center for Cuban Studies
In keeping with their commitment to provide U.S. citizens with information about Cuba, the Center for Cuban Studies consults on people-to-people travel to Cuba.
>>>Visual Arts: (Havana, Cienfuegos, and Trinidad)
>>>Greening the Economy: Eco-tourism & Urban Agriculture (Havana, Pinar del Río, Varadero, Zapata Swamp)
>>>Architecture & Preservation (Havana, Cienfuegos, and Trinidad)
>>>Great Museums of Cuba (Havana, Cienfuegos, Matanzas, Trinidad, and Santiago)
>>>Visual Arts & Education (Havana, Pinar del Rio, and Cienfuegos)
Roots of Hope
Their Cell Phones for Cuba aims to provide young people in Cuba with refurbished cellular phones. Cell Phones for Cuba will focus on boosting the connectivity of young people on the island and promoting greater means for communication.
Cuba Study Group
Carlos Saladrigas just released a 48 page report advocating for US based loans to Cuban entrepreneurs and said “An orderly, market-oriented economic reform process is decidedly in the best interests of Cuba, the United States and the region”.