Predicting change in Cuba is difficult, and Sanchez said she liked to use as a metaphor the decrepit mansions in Old Havana, which can often withstand hurricanes “even though they are at the point of falling down.”
“The Cuban system is like one of these old mansions, facing into the wind and not falling down,” she said. “But one day, they want to fix the door. They take out screws, and the house collapses.”
Sanchez dismissed Cuban government estimates that 20 percent of the island has access to the internet, saying her own observations suggest it may be only 3 percent.
“The number (of users) is very difficult to know because in Cuba not only opinions can get you sent to jail, also polling. My own personal thermometer, from what I see around me, is that there is a true network of viral information.”
Still, she said, any Cuban who wants to look for information will find it, although disagreeing with the government remains a punishable offense
“The average Cuban no longer swallows the pabulum of information given by the government. He or she is looking for more,” Sanchez said.
As a result, Cubans are creating and distributing information on the sly, sometimes captured web-pages or even homemade TV dramas taped in their living rooms, she said.
“The power and ingenuity of the alternative media in distributing information in Cuba is incredible,” she said.
The Castro government, she added, “is on the defensive.”
“It either opens the media to other voices, or another kind of journalism that is more objective and real and shows what is happening in Cuban society,” she said, “or it stays as it is now, totally defensive, attacking, insulting, creating libel campaigns (and) media lynchings.”