Alan Gross: Castro's prisoner
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    Free Information Is “Food For The Brain,” Said Alan Gross

    Free Information Is “Food For The Brain,” Said Alan Gross / 14ymedio,
    Mario Penton

    14ymedio, Mario Penton, Miami, 13 September 2016 — The last day of Cuba
    Internet Freedom Forum (CIF), which is meeting in Miami this week and
    was attended by dozens of experts in the use of networks, explored the
    importance of recognizing internet access as a fundamental human right
    and analyzed trends in the digital market on the island and the
    landscape of independent journalism, among others. The event, organized
    by the US Office of Cuba Broadcasting (OCB) and the first of its kind in
    history, seeks to promote new ways to increase connectivity in one of
    the countries with the worst internet access index in the world.

    Among the most relevant events of the day was the Internet Freedom:
    Fundamental Human Right workshop, which involved the US subcontractor
    Alan Gross who spent five years in prison in Cuba for “acts against the
    territorial integrity of the state.”

    Gross’s first words were “¿Qué bolá?, asere” – what’s happening, dude.
    Gorss said that “information is food for the brain” and, therefore,
    should be considered a human right.

    The former prisoner, cigarette in hand, also noted the island’s need to
    “land” in the 21st century. “If we believe that the Cuban government
    says about the the need for exports to improve its economy, we have to
    think that it would facilitate contacts between producers and foreign
    markets, and that can only be done through the internet,” he added.

    In the panel on trends in the digital market in Cuba, the founder of the
    site Apretaste, Salvi Pascual, explained the results of a survey
    conducted through this new initiative, which allows information to be
    collected through Nauta email. The results show that the majority of
    those consulted on the island want internet, although they would have to
    pay a fixed monthly fee. The survey also showed that a high percentage
    of the inhabitants on the island want the government rationing system to
    be maintained.

    “Internet is a universal human right and that is why the Castros fear
    it,” said Cuban-American Senator Marco Rubio in a video message
    addressed to the public forum.

    In another panel, dedicated to independent journalism on the island, the
    analyst Miriam Celaya recalled the background of this phenomenon. Other
    participants such as Rolando Lobaina, Ivan Garcia and Ignacio Gonzalez
    also addressed the issue from the plurality of independent sites and the
    awakening being observed in other media in which official journalists
    participate, such as El Estornudo, OnCuba and El Toque.

    Lobaina raised the challenge of organizing an event of this kind on the
    island, but said government repression towards the independent press
    “would probably prevent it.”

    The event presented the work of the digital site Martí Noticias, which
    has about six million visits to its website and an average of more than
    nine minutes of time spent on the site.

    “It is an excellent opportunity for an exchange between those of us on
    the island and those in exile. The future of the internet in Cuba we are
    going to guarantee for everyone,” Joanna Columbié, a member of the
    Somos+ Movement (We Are More). The activist added that this type of
    event has a real impact on ordinary Cubans, because it provides tools to
    facilitators who, once in the country may continue the educational work
    there.

    According to Rachell Vazquez, a freelance journalist who contributes to
    14ymedio, it is increasingly necessary that the information produced in
    Cuba not only reflect the reality of the capital, but also the interior
    of the island.

    “Freedom, both of expression and on the internet, is fomented when
    people of a neighborhood or a municipality see their lives, their
    concerns and their hopes reflected in the work we do. That’s the best
    way to contribute to the change of mentality in Cuba,” she said.

    Source: Free Information Is “Food For The Brain,” Said Alan Gross /
    14ymedio, Mario Penton – Translating Cuba –
    translatingcuba.com/free-information-is-food-for-the-brain-said-alan-gross-14ymedio-mario-penton/