I was able to visit Cuba on late past June. Maykel Moya, my main contact with the Debian and free software community, had invited me several times to the island, trying to build a bigger effort on free software initiatives there. So I accepted telling I was going to ask for some financial support to the DPL himself. So, I came to the DPL asking for sponsorship and he briefly came with the 2IC, Steve McIntyre, to try to make it happen. The money couldn't get out from SPI because of the US embargo issues, so they sponsored my flight from Mexico City with Debian UK Society support. I paid for my lodging on a well-placed hotel, since, in any case, I couldn't get to be hosted by some local because it's illegal for Cuban citizens. Maykel and his very nice friend, Medardo Rodríguez, agreed happily to feed me during my staying. The first idea I conclude from my visit to Cuba is that most of the things are not as they are expected. Most of the things and life itself is widely different than what we have been told, mainly by the US government. I had a fake idea on how the people live, on how the people feel about the revolution and on how they think about it. I enaltecer the innocence of people, Cubans are some of the nicest people I have ever met on my whole life, without prejudges, well informed on what's going on with the outter world and artistically and scientifically sobresalientes. The first day I was in Cuba I had the chance to meet some of the active members in the free software community, precisely and as it was expected, at least as I know it, most of them are a bunch of good and big friends. We had the chance to drink some rum and to taste to nice black Cuban coffee, besides that Medardo cooked his worldwide famous spaghetti with a sauce which I still keep a wonderful memory because of its incomparable aroma. Because my visit would be short, the next day we already have some scheduled activities and in the afternoon I offered a workshop on package creation and maintenance, with the participacion of around twelve or fifteen persons. It was held on the Mathematics and Computing Faculty in the University of Havana. With examples such as Liferea, I tried to guide the assistants on how a Debian package is created and what are the important parts to have present. The people became interested and intervened several times, having the chance to clear all doubts present. I have to admit that I thought people in the room would have a very basic level on free software matter, but I was certainly with a malformed image on Cuban prejudges, which are sometimes present if you haven't visited the island: Lots of the people are really immersed on the free sofware world. We changed rooms the next day, because the heat was unbearable in the Maths Fac. rooms and we achieved a room in the Philosophy Faculty, where we had air conditioning facilities and which became a very nice place to work and chat in such a hot weather, for most of us. Because of the great interest that there is in Cuba on bringing Debian in some government dependencies, Maykel had planned some talk about Custom Debian Distributions, since that'd be where some work, which has been intended until now, would go on. I had the chance to talk about what I know in the matter and about SimpleCDD, on which the guys became greatly interested. In the afternoon, we had a talk on translation, internationalization and localization. Most of the current initiatives of the Debian community in Cuba is to bring more people collaborating in the project, and from some sort of point of view (which I share), translating is a nice way to begin to be involved on Debian, obviously, by non-native English speakers, like us in Latin America, and also when not having strong technical skills on packaging or on Unix in general. We showed how the website is organized from the CVS, so that it happily coexist with translation teams, and things like that. A dinner was organized the next day, where Medardo cooked his fabulous spaghetti again and a cake was baked with the Debian swirl in it. I really thank you all guys for such a nice detail, it is really beautiful to see how a project like Debian can get so inside in hearts' people, no matter if they are Chinese, blondes, black, Latin, Europeans, Africans or whatever, only a few times we realize of such a thing. Enjoying some nice black tobacco and some strong Cuban coffee we started a discussion around mathematics (since most of them were involved with them) and how they impact on our ordinary life. In the gatherings of free software folks in my country what we mostly do is to get drunk or something similar and we forget about real-life discussions, not only around free software but of life itself. It's wonderful for me to get into these kinds of social circles with a great knowledge level and where the analysis of life is an everyday thing. The very last day, I had an small health problem, which didn't allow me to assist to the last of our meetings: May this report be helpful for me to apologize for the people waiting for me on that day, these were issues a bit against my will which made me remain in bed. Cuban free software effort and community, just as most of the communities around Latin America, is going up. Everyday, more free software has been adopting on government instances and interest is rising on urban communities. Lots of Cubans are into computing careers and building even stronger social bows while using free software and adopting Debian. This has been being a reality on Latin America, which is expected to keep going up. In the afternoon I took a taxi saying goodbye to Havana by visiting Plaza de la Revolución (where you can see the image of Che Chevara in the Ministerio del Interior main wall). I said goodbye watching the revolution in the streets and smelling the beautiful perfume of the Cuban freedom. Thanks, really thanks to all the nice people I met in Cuba. You guys, rock, and are rocking from my heart. Thanks also to aj and Sledge for supporting this (and others) proposals (I owe them an apology since this report took several "manyanas" to be released). If you are curious on looking at some pics, have a look at my gallery (with Spanish captions, though): http://www.damog.net/gallery/v/cuba/ Cheers, -- David Moreno Garza <email@example.com> http://www.damog.net/ <firstname.lastname@example.org> Yo mastico algoritmos.
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