Civil Liberties

Evading Communist Censorship with Samizdat Flash Drives

Dissent in Cuba.


The Cuban dissident Yoani Sánchez gave a speech in Mexico last weekend, and The Miami Herald reports that she painted a gloomy picture of the civil liberties situation in her country. "Often, activists, including independent journalists, are detained on the street, pulled into cars without plates, pushed, threatened [and] questioned by civilians who never identify themselves," she told the crowd.

But there are ways, she added, to route around censorship some of the time:

Sánchez said underground blogs, digital portals and illicit e-magazines proliferate, passed around on removable computer drives known as memory sticks. The small computer memories, also known as flash drives or thumb drives, are dropped into friendly hands on buses and along street corners, offering a surprising number of Cubans access to information.

"Information circulates hand-to-hand through this wonderful gadget known as the memory stick," Sánchez said, "and it is difficult for the government to intercept them. I can't imagine that they can put a police officer on every corner to see who has a flash drive and who doesn't."