Society for Cultural Anthropology
Oral Presentation Session
As the channels of access to the internet have expanded and diversified, online interactions with friends and family on and off the island have become more important in many Cubans’ everyday lives. Engagements with digital infrastructures have provided new tools to organize and coordinate grassroots actions around issues as diverse as disaster recovery, same sex marriage, and animal cruelty. These digital spaces have activated organizing efforts among a generation often disconnected from the traditional spaces of social and political participation.
The growing access to these digital spaces has already changed the way Havanans weathered hurricane Irma in 2017 and organized to provide direct aid after the January 2019 tornado. In the lead up to the 2019 Constitutional referendum, state-organized listening sessions about the proposed constitution took place nationwide in traditional spaces of popular participation. Digital infrastructures such as Facebook and the Cuban Paquete also provided space for heated debates. Both Evangelical churches and LGBT facebook users and their allies utilized digital tools to influence the outcome and make demands on the state to establish themselves as new political actors. In April 2019 a procession against animal cruelty, largely organized through digital infrastructures, was the first event in decades organized by non-state actors to be permitted to march Havana streets. From the digital margins, competing groups of Cuban citizens are activating to influence the social and political future of the island they all call home.