Cuba’s not so wide web gets a boost from artist tied to regime

Cubans in the west of Havana can now access international news and social networks using the nation’s first ever free, unrestrictive WiFi hub, created by Cuban artist Kcho.

Internet penetration in the communist nation is estimated to be between 5% and 25%. According to the BBC, an hour of internet can cost about as much as a week’s wages, so access is a privilege few can afford. And those who do have access encounter a great degree of censorship once online.

Kcho is known to have solid ties to the Castro regime and now some are speculating that Kcho’s free hub could means the regime’s grip on connectivity and censorship is declining.

The BBC’s Cuban correspondent Will Grant said many analysts in Cuba see this as a small, but potentially significant step. “What seems clear is that no such internet access could happen without the tacit approval of the authorities, who may well be using Kcho’s initiative to test the waters of allowing greater internet access on the island,” he said.

Regardless, Cubans are happy. Adonis Ortiz (20) told the Guardian that he uses the service to video-chat with his father, who lives in the US and whom he hasn’t seen in nine years. “I come as often as I can,” he said.

Read more about this story at the Guardian.

– Featured image “Labuci” by Kjgomez, via Wikimedia Commons