Communicating about life in Cuba

Senior Anthony Vega, freshman Laura Chaviano and junior Lolita Sosa worked with Aramis Perez from the Cuban Democratic Directorate to communicate with Cubans Tuesday evening. Using a speaker phone and three calling cards, students here were able to speak to Cubans who shared with them their experience living on the island today. Brittney Bomnin // Photo Editor

Communicating freedom isn’t an easy task, but that didn’t stop a group of students from trying.

Gathered around a wooden table in UC 233 on Tuesday, six UM students placed a conference call to Cuba to reach out to a group of politically dissident Cuban students.
“The goal is to bridge the youth there with the youth here in order to better understand each other because we live very different lives,” said junior Lolita Sosa, secretary of CAUSA: Students for a Free Cuba.
Sosa was joined by senior Anthony Vega, junior Simone Azcarate, sophomores Miguel San Pedro and Humberto Morales and  freshman Laura Chaviano in placing the call.
“They speak very freely about what they believe and where they stand,” Sosa said. “They speak just as freely whenever they can.”
The organization’s programming centers on raising awareness on human rights issues pertaining to Cuba and connecting young people in the United States and Cuba.
The island’s government, which has been ruled by the Communist Party since 1959, holds a tight control on expression against the government and has been known to punish dissidents who speak out against the Castro regime.
According to the United Nations Human Rights Watch, Cuba has tortured and imprisoned political dissidents. They have also received reports of the government committing extrajudicial executions against those that speak out against the communist party.
Four international calls were placed to the students on four separate calling cards. Each time the credits on the card would expire, they would have to dial the Cuban students again.
On the third attempt, Sosa and fellow CAUSA members were greeted by an automated message saying that their number was no longer authorized to connect with the students. The conference call was able to successfully conclude on the fourth and final attempt.
The entire conversation was captured live on Ustream, a video streaming Web site, in order to reach more people.
The call was the first in a series of organizational events intended to promote awareness of living conditions on the island.
CAUSA will host an event on Thurs., April 29 in the UC lower lounge featuring a presentation by the daughters and wives of Cuban political dissidents.
Like many CAUSA members, sophomore Miguel San Pedro, thinks the communist regime has had a terrible effect on Cuban society.
“When a country doesn’t have freedom, it doesn’t flourish,” he said.
Ramon Galiana may be contacted at rgaliana@themiamihurricane.com.
Brittney Bomnin may be contacted at bbomnin@themiamihurricane.com.

If you go

What: “Conversation with Cuban Activists”

Where: UC Lower Lounge

When: 7 p.m.

Who: CAUSA