USB sticks defy Cuban government

The Cuban government’s strict censorship programmes are being wiped out by bloggers armed with USB sticks.

Cuban blogger Yoani Sanchez said that “nothing is changing” in Cuba’s ossified political system and press freedom is still a joke.

But she took heart from the fact that underground blogs, digital portals and illicit e-magazines were thriving and were depending on memory sticks rather than the internet for delivery.

Thumb drives were offering a surprising number of Cubans access to information, Sanchez said.

According to McClatchy it is difficult for the government to intercept the memory sticks. Coppers cannot be put on every corner to see who has a flash drive.

Sanchez’s blog, Generation Y, is translated into more than 20 languages, and she has nearly 440,000 followers on her Twitter account.

She said that people who come into the sights of the Cuban regime led by Raul Castro were still being repressed in ways that “don’t leave fingerprints”.

Activists and independent journalists are detained on the street, pulled into cars without plates, pushed, threatened and questioned by civilians who never identify themselves, she said. Normally they are freed after a few hours.

She said that there had been no significant changes in Cuba to the model which kept Castro and his brother in power. Anything seen at the moment was just cosmetic and designed to keep them safe.

Cuba faces an exhaustion of the Castro system and is “on a countdown to what will occur”, whatever that means.

Right now,  internet controls are still tight. She estimates that only three percent of the country has an internet connection. The only sure way to get information to people is virally.

Not only is data shipped on USB drives but there are homemade TV dramas taped in their living rooms, she said.

She said that the power and ingenuity of the alternative media in distributing information in Cuba is incredible. This has forced the Castro government onto the defensive.