Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews.
A few days ago, on Tuesday 27th and for a couple of hours, more than a hundred people (most of them young) exchanged ideas about the events of July 11th in the country. In a panel -organized by the La Manigua collective and transmitted in its voice chat under the leadership of psychologist and activist Karima Oliva Bello- we listened to the remarks of Verónica Medina (actress and vice-coordinator of La Madriguera), Iramís Rosique (member of the Editorial Board of La Tizza and specialist of the Network in Defense of Humanity) and José Ernesto Nováez (journalist and writer, coordinator of the Cuban Chapter of the Network in Defense of Humanity). I don’t know if they have participated in a voice chat on Telegram, a messaging application that (like the popular WhatsApp or the Cuban Todus) which allows the gathering of communities in a virtual “living room” in which they “converse” in real-time, thanks to the exchange of audio messages.
After the initial comments by the panelists, the exchange was open to the participation of more than a hundred listeners who gathered for the occasion. Then a range of ideas flowed that covered, among many other issues, aspects as diverse as the pointing out of errors in the political and/or cultural work within disadvantaged populations; assessments of the relevance or error of having eliminated spaces for collective development such as the scholarship system or the pioneer camps; the substitution of political work (discursive, explanatory, dialogic, pedagogical) for superficial administrative vision (which stops at the management of figures, flows and operations); the need to undertake a profound renovation of structures of popular power such as the CDRs, the FMC and the Poder Popular itself; the obligation for the state and political apparatuses to continuously revive their interactions with the citizens. This is needed so that, in the midst of a relentless economic, political, ideological and cultural war against Cuban socialism, any sign of estrangement, distance or alienation between the population and these directive bodies is prevented.
In addition, there is the need to reinvent the discourses and ways of communicating; the request to eliminate any demand for an active revolutionary policy that continuously rectifies problems of vulnerability, poverty, marginality and their cultural, behavioral, social and educational consequences, social integration and personal fulfillment; the need to increase the participation and, in general, the leading role of young people in society, whether in concrete actions or in the reflection and dissemination of new ideas; the demands on the mass media regarding the importance of showing a more active role, as well as greater immediacy and depth in the analysis and dissemination of the country’s problems, the continuous presence of such problems/demands in the various party instances, the efforts bu State agencies to solve or mitigate them and, most importantly, the placement in the foreground of the communities’ responses; the need to change models of action and/or communication to make the fight against corruption, state bureaucracy, “campaigning” and the weaknesses of the media itself more transparent.
A day earlier, on July 25, this same voice chat had connected us live with the arrival at the Capitol in Washington of the members of Puentes de Amor, a project of solidarity with Cuba and the fight against the blockade, coordinated by Carlos Lazo in the United States. Weeks before, in another transmission, also made from the space of social networks, the collectives of Bufa Subversiva, Brújula Sur, Cimarronas, Horizontes Blog and La Tizza met to create the “collaborative broadcasting channel” Malas compañías. There they developed another very interesting discussion, which they titled Comunidad lgtbiq+ en Cuba. Where are we and where are we going?
These are names of new spaces for the presentation and discussion of ideas, as well as actors to postulate them. In communicational terms, the transformation leads to the obligation to assimilate and produce for a world in which greater speed, diversity and integration between text, audio, still images and video messages are imposed. In addition to the above, a world where exchanges become more challenging, captivating and interactive the greater the dialogicity.
On the one hand, I am interested in listening, and I confess to having enjoyed these exchanges of opinion in territories that require me to abandon my clumsiness in the handling of digital communication technologies, and to quickly incorporate myself into the many options offered by the universe of social networks, blogs, websites, podcasts, voice chats and other alternatives for establishing contact. I believe that there is an enormous potential that political and mass organizations, state entities, neighborhood structures and the most diverse projects of social transformation need to assume, integrate into their work and daily practices, and make the critical analysis of problems, communicative transparency, participation and social dialogue in the country increasingly diverse, extensive, deep and significant in its transformative character.
The Minister of Communications, during the balance sheet of the Informatics and Communications Business Group, highlighted the need to encourage human capital and undertake projects that increase income
by Yaditza del Sol González | firstname.lastname@example.org
February 19, 2020
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews.
Establishing alliances that promote productive linkages between different Cuban enterprises, implementing services to citizens, with priority given to government management and electronic commerce, as well as accelerating the safe development of technological infrastructure and encouraging research, development and innovation programs, are actions that respond to a single strategy: the implementation of the policy of computerization of society.
This was the opinion of the head of the Ministry of Communications, Jorge Luis Perdomo Di-Lella, who highlighted the need to encourage human capital and undertake projects that increase income. In this sense, he referred to the possibilities of exporting Cuban software, with a guaranteed quality, and in the deployment of proposals that are connected with foreign investment.
“The challenge is to diversify services, make them attractive, study which ones we can offer in the international market, all from the resources we have. In view of the economic situation of the country and the tightening of the U.S. economic blockade against Cuba, we are called upon to manage financing and seek foreign currency. [We must do this] either by using measures to make state-owned companies more flexible or by means of productive chains. This not only contributes to the monetary stability of the country but also to the very development of business.
During the assessment of the Informatics and Communications Business Group, the Minister called for a close follow-up of the e-government program. [This is] because once the present stage is over, “we are entering a more complex phase, where the provincial and local governments must guarantee the updating of the website’s contents and motivate the citizen to be at the center of the transformation of the management they carry out”.
With respect to cyber security, he said that there is a demand for digital certificates in the country and yet there is no consolidated marketable supply from computer and communications companies. The use of these certificates by the institutions allows us to increase the security codes and protect the exchange of information, an essential tool in a scenario where Cuban users are increasingly connected.
As Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel has mentioned on several occasions – the Minister emphasized – we must be able to make better use of the financial resources at our disposal to enhance the process of computerizing society.
By the end of 2019:
7.1 million Cubans were connected to the Internet, representing 63% of the country’s population
More than 143,000 homes were connected to the Nauta Hogar network
More than six million active lines are supported by the mobile phone network on the island, and 70% of these connections were made through smartphones
Source: Global Digital Report 2020 and Etecsa
By Yurisander Guevara
January 29, 2020
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews.
We started with a delivery that was born in China and has been consolidated as one of the best in its field. WPS Office is, in a way, “a clone” of Microsoft Office. Not only is it similar in design, but it also has its own functionalities. This does not mean something pejorative, on the contrary, it reinforces the idea of how well Microsoft has done in this section to inspire others to follow in its footsteps.
WPS Office is multi-system. It has versions for Windows, MacOS, GNU/Linux, Android and iOS. Originally known as Kingsoft Office, this program supports all Microsoft formats. And while it has now gained more notoriety, what many do not know is that this product has been available since 1989.
Among its main applications are Writer, the word processor; Spreadsheets for spreadsheets, and Presentations for slides. It does not have software for database management, mathematical formula manipulation or vector graphics. However, in an office suite the most used are the options already mentioned.
WPS Office has a premium or paid version, which allows you to convert documents to PDF format, as well as manage documents in multiple platforms from the user account, among other benefits. This software can be downloaded at www.wps.com.
Born in September 2010, and since then, with the support of the community of users of free technologies, LibreOffice has grown into a solid and full-featured product, managed by the non-profit organization The Document Foundation.
Its creation is due to a bifurcation of another office software: OpenOffice. Among its applications are Writer (word processing); Calc (spreadsheets); Impress (slides); Math (creating and editing mathematical formulas); Draw (vector graphics editor), and Base (database management similar to Access).
LibreOffice is a fairly complete solution that can cover the needs of more than 90 percent of the users. As standard it uses its own document format, .odf, but it also supports the latest and even the oldest Microsoft formats, such as .docx or .doc.
This software is available for Linux, Windows and Mac. On GNU/Linux systems it almost always comes standard with the installation. To download it you can visit en.libreoffice.org.
Although its current name is Apache OpenOffice, this office suite is known to everyone as OpenOffice. It is an open-source project born in 2000 as a result of the release of the StarOffice source code by Sun Microsystems, according to several specialized sources.
The company Oracle acquired Sun Microsystems, so OpenOffice was under its shadow until it was donated to the Apache Foundation, which since then manages the software as a project.
This software has fewer features than LibreOffice, although it is still a free alternative that provides the user with the same applications as the latter, but it does not have compatibility to export, at least as standard, to the most recent formats of the Redmond giant for office documents, according to the website My Computer Hoy.
The latest stable version of OpenOffice dates from last year and can be downloaded at www.openoffice.org.
Although not updated since 2018, this office software package is quite interesting.
Developed by the German company SoftMaker, founded in 1989, FreeOffice is a free office suite based on SoftMaker Office technology (which is paid for and includes more features).
FreeOffice has as applications a word processor (TextMaker), spreadsheets (PlanMaker) and presentations (Presentations). Its software is proprietary, but its free version is available for Windows, Linux, MacOS and Android.
At www.freeoffice.com it is possible to download this suite which also offers, separately, a free PDF document editor.
This is a software as a service that does not require installation in the case of computers, as it can be used only with a web browser, as it is in the cloud.
Google Docs is a simple and fast way -as long as the Internet is available-, to work with digital documents. It has a text editor, spreadsheets, a presentation editor and a form editor.
If used as a mobile application, it allows you to keep files offline, and in its desktop version it offers the possibility of downloading the document to your computer. However, perhaps one of its greatest features is the ability to archive text on Google Drive, which makes it ubiquitous and accessible if there is a network connection.
A downside to this type of application is that users could sacrifice their privacy if their Google Account is compromised. The Google office suite is available at docs.google.com.
As we have seen there are several alternatives to Microsoft Office, all free and available in a wide range of operating systems or even as a service. Do you want to try one?
BRIEF UPDATE, September 2015 Next week I’ll be returning to Cuba. This has been my longest time away since 1999 when I began regular visits. It’s been a year and a half. So much has changed since then! The Five are free and home. Diplomatic relations, broken by Washington in 1961, have been restored, and the process Cubans call “updating their economic model” has been continuing, as Raul Castro described it, “sin prisa, pero sin pausa”, which means “without rushing, but without stopping”. There’s so much to be learned and said about the process, which even the most attentive observer from abroad can barely begin to grasp. So now I’m looking forward with great anticipation to being able to catch up with friends and colleagues there, and to share with readers what I can see, hear and begin to try to understand. Below a link to my first extended commentary on Cuba, written after my second visit, fifteen years ago. Some remains valid, some has long since been resolved. Well, enough for now.
Los Angeles, California
September 8, 2015.
TWO MONTHS IN CUBA
Notes of a visiting Cuba solidarity activist
by Walter Lippmann
These are some notes on my visit to Cuba from November, 2000 to January, 2001. Some things in Cuba are very similar to the US, but many others are very, very different.
This essay doesn’t pretend to be a full-scale analysis of Cuba. That would be beyond its scope. These are my own observations, reflections and comments on things I myself personally saw, heard and did. Before and after visiting Cuba, I spent some time visiting Mexico, to get some perspective and to make a few comparisons. I hope you’ll find it useful.
On the final page of this essay, you’ll see links to some other pictures I took, and a page of references for useful English-language sources on Cuba so you can research Cuba further on your own.
WHY CUBA? WHY ME?
My interest in Cuba has deep family roots. My father and his parents lived there from 1939 to 1942. As Jewish refugees from Nazi Germany, they were unable to enter either Great Britain or the United States, despite having close relatives in each. The Roosevelt administration strictly enforced a restrictive quota on Jewish immigration. My father and his parents had to wait in Cuba until 1943 before obtaining permission to enter the US. I was born in New York City in 1944. (A good history of the Jewish experience in Cuba is Robert M. Levine’s 1993 Tropical Diaspora (ISBN:0-8130-1218-X). There’s also a novel which eloquently evokes the time when my father lived in Cuba, Passing Through Havana, by Felicia Rosshandler (ISBN: 0-312-59779-7).
My father took me to Cuba in August, 1956. We visited his old residence and met some of his old friends. I don’t remember much about it except that Cuba was a very hot and sticky place. (I was only 12 at the time.) We stayed briefly at the Hotel Nacional, and after that we moved to a smaller hotel. We traveled to Pinar del Rio with one old friend, John Gundrum, also a German immigrant, but one who’d never left Cuba.
In November, 2000 I made my second visit to Cuba as an adult. I’d spent three weeks there in late 1999, on a delegation of yoga teachers and students meeting and practicing with our Cuban counterparts. I knew more than most in the US about this Caribbean nation. I’ve read a lot of Cuban history, and followed Cuban affairs closely. Now I wanted to take a much closer look.
How do Cubans actually live, day-to-day? I wanted to get a sense of how they work, their likes, dislikes and so on. It’s one thing to hear and read about a place, in the media (Cuba is terrible place! People are dying to leave!) or, on the other hand, uncritically favorable accounts among the few left media sympathetic to Cuba.
My Spanish is limited, so I often had to depend on bilingual friends and acquaintances for answers and directions. During my 31-year career as a social worker for Los Angeles County, I learned some simple “street Spanish,” but not enough to carry on a complex conversation. I met many who speak, and wanted to practice, English, so I was able to get answers to my many questions.
In Havana I stayed with a Cuban family I’d met in 1999. One family member had recently quit the public sector job he’d had for 13 years, and entered self-employment. He translates Cuban TV scripts from Spanish into English as an independent contractor. Cuba hopes to sell these to providers like the Discovery Channel. He also translates for visiting journalists and filmmakers. Weeks before my arrival he’d worked with Academy Award-winning documentary filmmaker Barbara Kopple, filming the Washington, D.C. ballet’s visit to the country. His mother is an engineer working for a government ministry. She belongs to the Cuban Communist Party. I didn’t pay rent, but bought the food and other items for the family. I often shopped and sometimes cooked for the family. I don’t think they’ve eaten so much garlic in their lives! (Fortunately, they like garlic…)
CUBA’S HISTORIC GOALS:
INDEPENDENCE AND A JUST SOCIETY
Essential to understanding today’s Cuba is the bitter history of US-Cuban relations. The two nations have had a long, close and tense connection. Nineteenth century US politicians discussed annexing the island. They tried to derail its independence, or thwart its efforts to forge a just society where the interests of Cubans was put first. Even now, most US politicians still act and speak as if they have the right to tell Cubans how to run Cuba. The revolution led by Fidel Castro and his compañeros is the most successful of Cuba’s efforts.
Backers of the overthrown Batista dictatorship were welcomed to the US. Washington opposed Cuban efforts to take control over national resources from foreign (mostly US) companies. It has opposed, and tried to turn back, the revolution at every turn. Washington and its supporters call this policy “the embargo.” Cuba calls it “the blockade.” This is because Washington relentlessly tries to bulldoze all other countries into supporting its anti-Cuban activities.
SINCE THE COLLAPSE OF THE SOVIET UNION
During Cuba’s alliance with the USSR and the states of Eastern Europe, the island received long-term contracts for its commodities at stable, and sometimes well-above world market prices. This provided the economic and military foundation for Cuba to survive Washington’s decades-long effort to starve it out. Washington had to think twice about military intervention. The island’s politics and economics were heavily influenced by the Soviet model.