Doctors Have (Limited) Internet Access
Last week Cuban doctors had access to the Internet (25 hours / month), as the well-known server Infomed came to form part of the globalized world of communications. It wasn't easy, but it finally arrived, although the Internet that Cuban doctors now access is slow. Very slow. Instead of "broadband" we are talking about "narrowband." Nevertheless, it does represent progress towards development.
Because this happened in Cuba, doctors had to find out about it, little by little, over "Radio Bemba." There was no announcement, of course, in the press, on the radio, or on television. The authorities in charge of introducing changes are apparently not even authorized to inform the interested parties. Everything happened under wraps, which means that even the doctors are spreading the good news in whispers, and only to trusted colleagues, as nobody knows what might happen if they are caught committing such a serious indiscretion.
Internet, Wi-Fi ("wee-fee," as we Cubans say), smartphones and tablets are revolutionizing Cuba, but not as some had envisioned, Arab Spring style. They are changing minds, and have revealed to be
unfounded the fears harbored by some who are stuck in the Stone Age, who had augured great social cataclysms caused by the new information and communications technologies.
Doctors are eagerly looking for any information on their profession, young people opt for videogames, relatives and friends chat and can see each other via IMO, students do research on the subjects they are studying, and bloggers and journalists get information and publish their ideas and opinions, which may be valid or not, but it is their right. The Internet, in spite of everything, and above all, is perhaps the most democratic development in human history.
With a click I can say whatever I want, find out about what interests me, and even what does not; or escape from disagreeable things and the cyberstupidity that floods the Web. But, most importantly, I make the decisions. Each individual has control over what he does, and that feels good.
The terms chat, blog, and post are already part of a still small number of Cubans' vocabularies. But their numbers will grow, based on promises by the communications and computers authorities, not only because there will be more equipment, but because prices will drop too. Hallelujah!
The world is changing, and so is Cuba, albeit grudgingly. Not long ago the profits earned by the companies producing the most modern technologies were bitterly criticized (Letter by Fidel Castro to the VII Congress of the UNEAC, 1 April 2008), without pausing to perceive the benefits that they bring to the economies of the countries where they operate, regardless of whether their governments are on the Right or Left.
It will not belong before technological backwardness will be overcome, along with psychological hang-ups leading to hunts for satellite dishes and camouflaged cables. Fear of the Internet already belongs to another era. One that is, hopefully, over forever. We look forward to the day when we can see the world from the comfort of our homes, acquire knowledge that is still barred, and see our grandchildren, born in distant places, more often.