For a couple of years now, I've been able to correspond through e-mail with my family in Cuba through an aunt who is a former diplomat. Just last night, I recieved an e-mail from another aunt - who has no connection to the government - informing me that her son had bought a computer, so we could e-mail there as well, and what's more - they could chat with me through yahoo chat - where I promptly created an account. A few hours later, I was added by them, and spent a couple of hours chatting with my aunt and grandmother.
During this conversation, the topic of me moving to Miami came up quite often - it's something my whole Cuban side of the family wants, and lately, as much as I like Canada, I've been seriously considering doing - since I miss the culture, the climate, and of course family, plus there isn't much of a of market in Ontario for an entry-level computer engineering technologist. One thing I noticed right away was that they never mentioned the U.S. directly. it was "when are you going to go south to be closer with family?" or "Why don't you just pick up and move to that place we've been talking about?"
Afterwards, I spent a couple of hours chatting with my 20 year old cousin who owns the computer - and here is where each of us was able to get a pretty good view of how things were on the other side.
Being a 20 year old guy, first thing he wanted to know was how Canadian girls compared with Cuban girls - I tried to explain to him the multicultural nature of the country - but he was still amazed that my girlfriends have ranged from Russian-Israeli to Irish - I've never had to work so hard to convince someone that I am not infact some sort of international playboy.
I sent him some of my favourite photos of Canada, we talked about school, work and life in general. I learned that a yahoo account is "very expensive" in Cuba, and they haven't decided if they will keep it past the 23rd of this month. He said he loves chatting online, and surfing the web - "though it's very limited".
He then asked what kind of computer I was running - I gave him my stats reluctantly - thinking it must be years ahead of whatever he has, and was shocked to learn he's running a 3 gig P4, 512 megs of RAM, 80 gig hard drive - only downside he says, is that he's got onboard video - but he has asked his big brother, who is "overseas" (more dancing around mentioning the U.S.) to send him a Geforce 6800.
After the topic of computers and graphics cards was breached, naturally gaming came next - he plays games like Call of Duty and Warcraft III, and was very curious when I mentioned FEAR, since he has heard much about it (I chose not to mention OFP, given the subject matter).
The whole experience left me obviously very happy to be able to have such direct contact with close family, and also gives me hope for change, as more people beging having this sort of access to the outside world - as limited as it may be. The biggest obstacle however, seems to be financial - obviously not everyone in Cuba can afford a computer - any computer, let alone a 3 gig system - and even a yahoo account is expensive, but, it seems to me like it's a start.
Very interesting exchange there. But i dont understand why cant they say US ? Is it a personal dislike thingy or is it that their net is being monitored and if they say certain words they'll be under surveillance? If so then it sucks , but i have a few cousins living in the states who shy away from debating topics such as terrorism or bin laden on msn or whatever chat program they are on.
Plus why do they have to pay for a yahoo account? Its free? Or does he have a paid account? Or do yahoo have only paid accounts for people in cuba? That would suck and i can only wonder why thats so .
As for the PC's and games well they have infiltrated every where , if a die hard fundamentalist like laden uses them then i guess Cubans are no biggy .
That's what they're afraid of.
Originally Posted by (Acecombat @ May 15 2006,15:14)
They have to pay to have access to it. Why? because the government controls internet access, and they can make it so.
Originally Posted by [b
A very interesting read! Certainly brings some contrast to most media which seems to be divided in two camps, atleast here in Sweden. With one side saying "Cuba rules, the people there aren't too oppressed" and the other one saying pretty much the opposite.
Personally I would love to read some more of your personal experiences, if you have the time or energy to provide it.
when i travelled in cuba , that what i noticed too , the things that the cuban are mlissing the most is internet and travelling , the rest is of course important but much more due to economical situation , but they do not always realize all the advantages they have over latin country but also u.s and EU.
In the future , Cuba is probably going to have an easier situation because countries like venezuela (Chavez), Bolivia(Morales) are slowy doing a good job on their sides. (nationalization of Bolivia's natural gas fields for ex) .
Glad this was of interest to a few people . Well, what exactly would you like to know? I'm currently home sick with a lung infection, so I have plenty of time, but probably not the energy to write my entire life story . I can tell you that technology definitely seems to be finding it's way into Cuba more quickly these days. The last time I visited - much too long ago in late 98, the only person I knew who had a computer was my aunt, who was still a diplomat at the time, and she had a Pentium II running Windows 95, and I don't believe she had any access to the internet outside Cuba, such as e-mail. The best console that could be found was the SNES, and the people who had them would rent them to the rest of the neighborhood to make money.
Originally Posted by (GoOB @ May 15 2006,16:57)
American movies have always been shown on Cuban TV as far as I can remember - so people do see a glimpse of how things are in the west and are fairly savvy of American pop culture, but as their experience of this comes only from movies, it's all somewhat surreal to them. The Beta format by the way, was (and likely still is) very much alive in Cuba
The most important thing that's missing is hope for improvement. You can join the army, become a farmer, or do whatever else and get by on rations (if you're very lucky you can land a job in the tourist industry and do very well from tips and gifts from visitors) or you can lead a life of crime and live very well compared. Now to be fair, this is not too different from most latin american countries, and there are many less people starving or dying from disease in Cuba than in other latin american countries,but the only reason anyone would want to become a doctor or an architect is because that is what they love doing - it definitely would not be the salary - which would roughly be the same across all professions. There is some limited entrepreneurship springing up here and there - but all that is still strongly regulated by the government.
Originally Posted by [b
Hrh, tough question... But, how "open" do you reckon Cuba is? This might be a real tough question to answer, but to what degree does the average Joe live in direct fear of the government? My grandmother was a resident of the soviet union back in the days, and she had some pretty awful stories to tell about corrupt authority and otherwise unpleasant things. And my father had some real complications with his notebook and camera when he went to Moscow before the wall fell.
Originally Posted by (Tovarish @ May 15 2006,22:59)
And one more thing, is it true that tourists are only allowed to ride in special taxicabs?
Well, it's "open" as long as you don't critisize the government, and praising the U.S. is not recommended either. The average Joe doesn't really live in direct fear of the government, most people just live their lives and follow the rules - corrupt authority? of course there is some of that. As for the taxicabs - no, I don't believe that to be true. It wasn't in '98.
Originally Posted by (GoOB @ May 15 2006,18:39)
Thanks for sharing your story, Tov.
I think your cousin doesn't know your hotmail account.
Like how they were playing Backstreet boys?
Originally Posted by [b
lol nope - I haven't used that for mail in years - only msn messenger, so he wouldn't .
Originally Posted by (RalphWiggum @ May 15 2006,22:43)
Ah yes, the low point of my visit in '98 - walk into a nightclub in Havana, and "what the hell? is it impossible to get away from this shit?"
Originally Posted by [b
On the other hand, I was introduced to G n' R at the age of 8 or 9