According to an article in Martí News, Cuban police have searched several homes in Havana and confiscated devices with Wi-Fi capacity. As the State’s telecommunications monopoly, ETECSA has played a large role in the recent crackdown. According to reports, ETECSA officials have arrived at several homes and seized wireless routers, antennas, and receptors without explanation.
These arbitrary searches are evidence of yet another abuse of power by the regime. Article 56 of the Cuban constitution clearly states, “The home is inviolable. No one can enter a private home against the will of its owner, unless otherwise stipulated by the law.” Many believe that the recent search-and-seizures are the government’s attempt to eliminate clandestine wireless networks that connect Cubans with other parts of the island.
The article included the account of “Rolando,” one of many who have turned to the underground technological network in Cuba. Rolando reported that he has had access to Wi-Fi for 7 years and described how “the network started locally, with only neighbors participating” and soon thereafter “expanded to include other streets, neighborhoods and municipalities.”
Although such underground networks have continued to proliferate, ETECSA does not provide any sort of connection service to the island’s population. Unfortunately, only foreigners can access the Internet and cable TV. Despite these and other limitations, Rolando described how those on the island use the underground networks for chat services and FTP, also known as File Transfer Protocol. Using FTP, Rolando and others can share “TV series, movies, documentaries, programs, books, and other archives.”
In many instances, these clandestine networks exemplify resourcefulness and demonstrate the Cuban people’s desire for information. For instance, several Wi-Fi antennas on the island are made of common household items, such as fans and other appliances.
Connect Cuba, a campaign of FHRC for the Cuban people, fosters this spirit of innovation, and provides Cubans with the resources necessary to enact change and get connected. The project’s funds are allocated towards purchasing storage drives, smart phones, computers, and other technology for the “internet without internet.”