Service sends censored news to Cuban cell phones

A blogger in Spain has been texting news headlines to cell phones in Cuba, reported the newspaper El Nuevo Herald de Miami.

The Cuban exile Ernesto Hernández Busto, who writes the blog Penúltimos Días, created the free service called Cuba Sin Censura (Cuba without Censorship) from his home in Barcelona. Cuba Sin Censura selects news censored on the island and sends it to subscribers through his website.

Hernández said that the service is currently in its test phase, reaching 1,000 cell phones in Cuba. The website Cuba in Miami says the service will be completely active in September.

In 2009, Hernández sent between five and six text messages a day through the "Granpa" system, a play on the official newspaper of the Communist Party of Cuba, Granma, but the effort failed when Cuban authorities blocked the broadcast. Now, Hernández uses a computerized system to send the messages.

"Cuban authorities can't block the messages from Cuba Sin Censura because each is sent from a different telephone number," Hernández told El Nuevo Herald.

In 2010, Cuba had close to a million cell phone lines, according to a report from Radio Nederland.

"It's easier for Cubans to connect and involve themselves through text messaging than Internet because the prices to access the web are really high right now," Hernández said in an interview with Radio Nederland.

Hernández finances the cost of sending each message (about 30 U.S. cents) through donations and advertising, the blogger said. "It's about selecting current national and international news that has been censored or manipulated by the official Cuban press," Hernández explained in an e-mail to the Knight Center.