Huffpost WorldPost
Yoani Sanchez Headshot

A Tiny Glimpse of the "Real" Internet, The Forbidden Internet

Posted: Updated:
Print Article

2010-05-08-rosa_diez.gif
A few days ago, the Internet once again gave me a couple of pleasant surprises. I was in the middle of the process of trying to travel out of Cuba when my phone rang and a voice with a Madrid accent asked if we could plan to meet. I didn't know who the man was because the noise of a passing truck kept me from hearing him when he introduced himself. But I confirmed that at 4:30 there would be coffee waiting for him and his friends on the 14th floor of this mass of concrete. Half an hour later, I received a text message from a commentator on Generation Y, telling me that the digital forums had already published news of Rosa Diez's visit to my house. So I was able to complete the puzzle of who had just made that unintelligible call and pointed out to Reinaldo, with amusement, "Our real life is running a few hours late with respect to our virtual existence."

Finally, the prediction that appeared on the web came true, and the spokeswoman for the Spanish political party, the Progressive and Democratic Union, knocked on my door. We talked like old acquaintances, like people who have retraced their steps and met at a bend in the road to share stories of the stones, the hollows, the sunsets. We exchanged energy because, believe me, this slight woman exudes an enthusiasm I've only seen in the very young. The principle subject was Cuba, this Island where there is physical space for everyone, but which they would like to convert into an exclusive space for those who embrace an ideology. I told her about my apprehensions, but there was also time to detail my hopes and to enumerate the positive forecasts. She, for her part, listened to us without proselytizing.

Before leaving, Rosa took out her iPhone and in the browser wrote the URL for the Progressive and Democratic Union. On the brilliant screen appeared a modern site, highlighted in magenta, that is updated almost daily. Between the walls of this house, that had heard dozens of Cubans talk of the Internet as if it were a mythical and difficult to reach place, this little technological gadget gave us a piece of cyberspace. We, who throughout the Blogger Academy, work on a local server that simulates the web, were suddenly able to feel the kilobytes run across the palms of our hands. I had the desperate desire to grab Rosa Diez's iPhone and run off with it to hide in my room and surf all the sites blocked on the national networks. For a second, I wanted to keep it so I could enter my own blog, which is still censored in the hotels and cybercafes. But I returned it, a bit disconsolate I confess.

For a while on that Monday, the little flag on the door of my apartment asking for "Internet for Everyone" did not seem so unrealistic. A tireless little weaver-spider called Rosa had shown us the most slender strand of the great World Wide Web.