Cuba: Exciting First Meeting of Twitter Users in Havana

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.

Group of tweeters that joined together on July 1 at 23rd and 12th in Havana. Photo by Elaine Díaz.

“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.


Leunam Rodríguez and the author Elaine Díaz, two of the principal promotors of Twitthab. Photo courtesy of Elaine Díaz.

@iroko and @unaprevia at the meeting of Tweeters in Havana. Photo by Elaine Díaz.

About the disagreement, the journalism student, Rafael González (@rafauniversidad) [ES] shared on his blog [ES]:

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).

My unrepentant romantic spirit indicated that I should remain faithful to the original idea, the primeval Cinecitta, although we were two cats [few people], although the press never mentioned this location, even though there were no rooms equipped with internet nor bureaucratic complacency.

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.

Eduardo Estevez, @estevez121 [es], specialist in information technologies and member of the Cuban community for free software said in his blog:

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.

Being there in Carmelo we introduced ourselves one by one, we drank beer, hummed a song or two, and ended up in the park just in front of the Amadeo Roldán theater.  It was a special afternoon, one has to recognize that.  The most interesting thing was that after being in the park for a little while friends who had attended the activity at the Pabellón Cuba joined us, and at this moment we were the ones acting like journalists asking them how it had gone at the other venue.

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?”

From Stockholm, @reinaldogarcia2 [es] sent [es] congratulations to Twitthab, and the Cuban journalist @dianikflores [es] lamented that she hadn't been able to attend for work reasons:

@dianikflores: Quiero acompañarlos en la próxima Odisea, ya vi las fotos, que envidia, debí haberme escapado[…]

@dianikflores: I want to join them at the next Odyssey, and I saw the photos, so much envy, I should have escaped […]

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”.

Group of Tweeters in Havana. Photo courtesy of Elaine Díaz.

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.

*To see more photos of #Twitthab, please look at Elaine Diaz's gallery.

Join the conversation

Authors, please log in »


  • All comments are reviewed by a moderator. Do not submit your comment more than once or it may be identified as spam.
  • Please treat others with respect. Comments containing hate speech, obscenity, and personal attacks will not be approved.