The first meeting of users of the social network Twitter was celebrated in Havana on July 1 at 4:00 pm at 23rd and 12th of the Vedado district and in the Pabellón Cuba, headquarters of the Saíz Brothers’ Asssoication [es].
The event hosted almost 100 people, mostly young journalism students, administrators, professors of the University of Havana [es], the Polytechnic University Jose Antonio Echeverria and the University of Information Sciences [ES], journalists and bloggers, among others.
“I want to meet you” and “Come from behind the @” were the motivations of the principal organizer, a young man named Leunam Rodríguez (@leunamrguez) [es], administrator of the Cuban Radio Portal [es] and author of the blog Twitterencuentro [es].
Despite the change, a day before, from the original location at 23rd and 12th to the Pabellón Cuba, which motivated discrepancies among those who remained faithful to the original venue and those who decided to go to the Pavilion, the majority of the Cuban tweeters met up at the Carmelo restaurant bar after 5:00 pm also located in Vedado and then moved to the park's Amadeo Roldán Theater.
Mi espíritu de romántico impenitente me indicó que debía permanecer fiel a la idea original, al Cinecittá primigenio, aunque fuéramos dos gatos, aunque la prensa nunca hablara de ese lugar, aunque no hubiera salas de navegación ni burocráticas complacencias.
No le resto legitimidad al otro lugar de reunión, solo que nunca entenderé ni apoyaré cambios a deshora, cualesquiera que sean las razones, sobre todo porque ninguna ameritaba el traslado imprevisto (otros dicen que imperativo).
I don't delegitimize the other location, it's just that I will never understand or support changes at last minute, whichever the reasons, especially because no reason warranted the unexpected move (some say it was imperative).
During the 15 days before the event, around 200 people on Facebook confirmed their presence and the hashtag #Twitthab [es], one of the most active in Cuba, brought together opinions about the event from different parts of the world.
Estando ya en el Carmelo nos presentamos uno a uno, tomamos unas cervezas, tarareamos alguna que otra canción y pasamos a ser acogidos por el parque que se encuentra frente al teatro Amadeo Roldán. Fue una tarde especial hay que reconocerlo. Lo más interesante fue que luego de estar un rato en el Parque se unos unieron los amigos que habían ido para la actividad del Pabellón Cuba, en ese momento los que parecíamos periodistas éramos nosotros preguntando cómo había acontecido todo por la otra sede.
Estevez also requested the Cuban government to, “Trust a little more in the Youth of Today.”
Some tweeters preferred to remain on the margin of the event. Such is the case of @VICcollor [es] who reflected on his Twitter account: “yesterday I exchanged two boring Twitthabs for an interactive concert”. While, other Cubans residing abroad like @jorgedearmas [es] asks “when will there be an open, virtual Skype meeting?”
@dianikflores: Quiero acompañarlos en la próxima Odisea, ya vi las fotos, que envidia, debí haberme escapado[…]
For their part,@sol24 [es] and @arielissac [es], Cubans living in Miami, followed Twitthab through social networks and sent real-time messages [es] to the participants and shared what was being published on the web.
For the author @elainediaz2003, “Twitthab was controversial and historic, it was beautiful, it was exciting”. Lety (@laeconomista) [es] who met up with participants in the park of the Amadeo Roldán theater, was happy to “meet many people” and stated that it had been “a special moment”.
The international press echoed the event, and prestigious media outlets like the Washington Post and USA Today, as well as the Associated Press, EFE, Reuters and the Inter Press Service covered the event that didn't receive equal attention in the national press. According to @yohandry8787, Cuban reporting was missing.
After the meeting, the participants exchanged photos and videos to publish on social networks and began planning future events. Paola (@cubamar) [es], a Cuban residing in Mexico, proposed to have the next meeting at the beach, nicknamed Twittbeach; while @cubanitoencuba [es] suggested that it be on the first Friday of August in Almendares Park located in the capital.
The last report on internet access in Cuba published by the National Statistics Office illustrated very low levels of penetration in the Cuban population. However, Cuban internet users have overcome the technological difficulties in order to create a nascent and varied network of Twitter users.
The first known user of this network in Cuba is the specialist Orlando Ignacio Romero (@orlandoignacio) [es] who now works as deputy artistic director of the Cuban weekly Bohemia [es] and signed up for Twitter at the end of 2007.
In 2010 Twitter exploded in Cuba and the accounts created on the island have increased although the actual number of users continues to be less than in other Latin American and Caribbean countries.