Conference image © 2010 by Gregory Engels
UPDATE: The audio of the conference is now available HERE (Please repost freely)
The Greens/European Free Alliance, a European parliamentary group, held an online conference in Brussels today titled “Blogging for Democracy – Cuba, the European Union and the influence of Web 2.0”
It featured Cuban bloggers Yoani Sánchez (Blog: Generacion Y), Claudia Cadelo (Blog: Octavo Cerco), Luis Pardo (Blog: Lunes de Post-Revolución), Miriam Celaya (Blog: Sin EVAsion), Reynaldo Escobar (Blog: Desde Aquí) and others.
The Cuban bloggers took turns addressing the conference. The discussion focused on the need for:
an open debate about the situation in Cuba and the Blogger Movement as a possibility to raise one’s voice regardless of the media censorship in Cuba. The conference also challenges how EU policy on Cuba is seen on the island and what future role the EU should play.
I followed the proceedings through the live-blogging of Henrik Alexandersson on The Embedded Citizen. He did a great job transcribing the conversation — even with multiple telephone line disconnects — taking place at the European Parliament building.
His blog’s comments section also served as a platform for discussion and a conduit to forward questions to the speakers and the Cuban bloggers on the phone — apparently 20 of them in a room somewhere in Havana.
Here is a portion of his great reporting:
– Phone lines working.
– Franziska Brantner, German Greens, greats everyone welcome and says hallo to Cuban bloggers. She states that it is important that we face the difficult Cuba issue.
– Cristian Engström, Swedish Pirate Party, talks about how the internet (web sites, blogs, forums, Twitter etc.) helps people in oppressed parts of the world to organise in opposition. He also underlines that the Internet also is important for transparency and openness in our part of the world.
– Manuel Desdin is talking about how Cuban bloggers have taken citizens journalism to a new level – and that this really is changing the Cuban society.
– Benoît Hervieu, Reporters sans frontièrs, tells us how bloggers in Cuba often must try to use the hotels wireless networks. He tells us how the regime bullies bloggers and filter the Internet. Even “ordinary” journalists have the same problem. He is afraid that this will get worst the next few months.
– He continues by telling us that the Cuban Regime are going more nervous and aggressive. But he thinks that contacts between Cuba oppositionals and people in the outside world might hold back this development.
– Susan Dennisson, Amnesty, touches on several aspects of Cuban oppression. When it comes to the technical aspects of Internet in Cuba, she would like to know if the EU can help in any way.
– SD also tells us that Cuban Post Offices have started to provide (limited) Internet access.
– Phone line down. Redialing in progress.
I was told that an audio recording of the event will be available soon. I’ll post it as soon as it becomes available. The hashtag to follow on Twitter for this event is #cubanbloggers. There are more photo’s of the conference on Gregory Engel’s Flickr page. He has a post of the event on his blog as well.
The conference ended in a hopeful note:
– All 20 bloggers around the phone in Cuba says hallo to you all – and hope that we will stay connected. With better connections.