Satellite dishes

Inside a water tank Dayron hides a satellite dish to capture television from Mexico and Miami.  He lives in a building with eight apartments and supplies a cable with the forbidden programming to each neighbor.  Even though the police track these illegal distributors, there’s little they can do given the growing number of those committing the same offence.  Havana seems, at times, a spider’s web lined with false clotheslines and water pipes through which flow, in fact, the banned foreign television signals.

To subscribe to this sort of underground business, many families pay a monthly fee of two hundred Cuban pesos, half the salary of any professional.  In return they receive twenty-four hours of soap operas, shows and musicals.  The few national and ideological channels can’t compete with the bright colors and variety coming from the audacious aerial directed towards the satellite.

To counteract this phenomenon, the government has trained several law enforcement teams that search the roofs and cut the suspected cables.  The fine can exceed one thousand pesos and includes the confiscation of the receiving equipment and the television.  The fear of being caught, however, hasn’t managed to deter the daring viewers.  Some entrepreneurs have even managed to run the distribution network under the street, alongside the old water pipes.  To do it, they’ve hired the real work teams who pretend to repair an actual leak when, in fact, they are laying the hunted cable.

Dayron’s clients are willing to run all the risks, in order to see something different.


  1. Wonderful!
    Speaking from this side of the Atlantic, it may be useful to point out that the Soviet Warsaw Pact (military alliance) never seemed so powerful as just before it imploded. They outnumbered NATO by at least 3 to 1 in every department and by 5 to 1 in some. They were building submarines bigger than our aircraft-carriers and surface vessels so large we had no designation (such as the Yuri Andropov, renamed the Peter the Great and, despite having been declared “unfit for service” in 2004, now wallowing on your side of the pond, salvage tugs at the ready:-))
    HOWEVER … the people, particularly in Eastern Europe, knew it was all based on lies, since, however desperately the regimes sought to block communications, the masses knew that somewhere, someone made a decent pair of jeans. A worry for Cuba, the second most isolated nation in the world after N Korea, is the possibility of a kind of national “Stockholm-syndrome”, where kidnap victims begin to identify with their captors. Symptoms include blaming those outside for the actions of the kidnappers. “It’s all the fault of the Americans that most Cuban farms are derelict.” It sounds as though this isn’t too great a danger, however. And, while a regime with massive forces mobilized to repress its own people may seem impregnable, it is actually living in fear.
    Just keep leaning gently, and with Yoani’s good humour, on the whole rotten structure!

  2. This post reminds me of an experience in a casa particular that I stayed in when I traveled to Cuba where the person running it was watching CNN that had fuzzy reception in the same way that people in America will try to watch pornography on TV in the same way. Just really struck me.

  3. If the system they have is so good and so perfect as they claim and there is so much freedom in Cuba why then such insistence on controlling the information Cubans receive?

    I guess the only way for people to believe their lies is if they are not allow to see the truth and following Goebbels doctrine any lie repeated sufficiently will become in truth.

  4. I have to chime in with SilentVoice here. I have never understood how the hypocrisy of a system like Cuba’s stands. How can you say people are “free” when what they are able to read, view, and write is censored? It seems to me that the leaders are saying very clearly that they think the people they govern are too stupid to think for themselves and must therefore be protected from themselves, like little children.

  5. I remember when the tyranny started to serve all hotels with a package of tv channels (1985). They transmitted the coded signal from the radio tower on the old building of CMQ tv at the crossing of the streets L and 23. Very soon the people found the way of decoding the signal and watch the prohibited tv programs. The tyranny started to pursue the violators and decommissioning the decoding artifacts. People response then were to invent smaller artifacts that could be easily hidden, some of them as small as a beans can. Then the tyranny decided to change the system and use the satellite system.

  6. Does the Cuban government have the right to isolate their citizens from information? Many have called this recognized behavior of the Cuban government as paternalism.
    I would say that is more than just paternalism, since is a way to not given them new ideas of events occurring around the world and making them see the world thru their own tinted glasses that the dictatorship uses to see the world.

    I remember while I was in Cuba the only reliable source of information from the outside for us was Radio Marti and before that the Voice of America. Even for meteorological information we had to turn to foreign radio stations!

    This censorship of information is not only with regards to radio stations or TV signals it is also extended to books and now the internet. Do we see then genuine the claims that the Cuban government will give access to everyone on the internet?
    I will have to see to believe it! They will crack down very heavily on web sites they do not like people to read.

    Can anyone tell me why do they want to exercise so much control over their citizens mind?
    Is it part of their propaganda machine at work?

    While I was in Cuba I build a big TV antenna in order to get better reception for me to listen to Music FM stations in Florida and I remember one of them came to ask me why I needed such a big antenna I remember that I responded that we needed the antenna to get better reception of the Cuban television! 😀 and that I was using the plans for the antenna published on a magazine in Cuba at the time!I am sure they knew I was not telling the truth but at least they did not make me take it down.

    Why should the government care if one listen to American music or not or if one listens to the news coming from another country? Why is so important to them to have such a control over their citizens. What is it that they do not want them to learn?

  7. This valiant skinny girl is “endiablada” this weekend ……. already posted another article…….I guess our friend the English Translator must be dizzy with all work has had the lasts days!!!!
    This last post announces that next February 16, at the Book Fair in Havana, she and group of writers and young cubans will try to present a book written by a fellow writer that has been forbidden by the tyranny. Already the tyranny proffered menaces against those young people.

  8. Hola,

    porque no escribes tu blog en espanol? Me parece que a lugar de escribir toda esa chatarra que todo el mundo ya conoce deberias abrir un blog sobre los puercos alla en miami, a ver si se dignan de una vez a luchar un poco mas por la gente en su pais que tanta crisis esta pasando.

  9. #9 Rosa — el blog es en espanol. Este sitio es un traduccion. Pinche la bandera espanol arriba…

  10. A Rosa: Porque el mundo habla inglés. ¿Como va a informar el mundo entero lo que esta pasando en Cuba?

  11. #9 Rosa,

    En los Estados Unitidos hablamos engles. Para mi engles es bueno y mi espanol is no malo. Mi espanol es pequeno. En Cuba habla espanol. En China habla espanol, no? No, hablo Chinese. En la internet primo habla engles.

    Habla el mundo = Habla engles. El mundo estudia engles. No estudia espanol para el moundo. Porque? No se. No comprende porque? Es como es.

  12. A Rosa: Naca, por que no abres un blog sobres los puercos en tu domicilio. Te aseguro que con la candidad de puercas no has de temer un atentado terrorista musulman. Ya tu sabes que a esa gente no le gusta el perco. Chao puerca.

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