Sunday, November 29, 2015

IMO, Person of the Year in Cuba

IMO, Person of the Year in Cuba
Yoani Sanchez - Award-winning Cuban blogger
Posted: 11/28/2015 2:14 pm EST Updated: 11/28/2015 4:59 pm EST

14ymedio, Generation Y, Yoani Sanchez, 28 November 2015 - December will
soon be here and numerous lists of this year's protagonists will be
published in Cuba. A difficult task in a country that over the last 12
months was visited by a pope, a secretary of state and even by Mick
Jagger. However, the person who takes all the palms is not a politician,
a religious leader or a rocker. It is a mobile application with a short
name and a profound impact on our reality: IMO.

With over 150 million accounts worldwide, this video-call tool burst
into our daily lives mid-year to shorten distances and reunite families.
With its simple interface and capacity to adapt itself to the low speeds
of our internet connection, IMO has achieved what insularity and
politics has limited for so long: contact with the world.

Headquartered in Palo Alto, the startup responsible for this tool for
text chats, voice and video, was founded by one of the first ten Google
employees, who says that he likes working "on challenging projects." A
maxim that has been extensively tested in Cuba, where despite the
technological obstacles the app has spread virally through smartphones
and tablets.

Anyone who says that technology distances us and locks us in solitude,
can wander through the wifi zone on Havana's La Rampa and see the tears
and smiles this utility gives rise to when Cubans connect between here
and there. The emotions are very much as if they were face to face.
There is no coldness on the screen, nothing dehumanizing on the
keyboard, when they are the only chance of encountering the people we love.

The corner of Infanta and 23rd, any Saturday. A lady enjoys the son she
hasn't seen for two decades, checks out his latest hair dye, while the
emigrant's sister has brought the dog who also participates in the
moment. At their side, a young man no more than 20 insistently repeats,
while holding the phone in front of his face, "Don't delay, get me out
of here." Through IMO we have tackled, in recent months, our hopes and
our despair.

Even prostitution with foreigners has become more technological through
the new utility. Now "the merchandise" is evaluated before the customer
arrives in the country. The other day a young girl swept a tablet with a
camera over her whole body while, on the other side, someone with a
German accent asked if it was true that she was over 18.

However, IMO deserves the title of Person of the Year above all because
of the key role it has played in the migratory crisis facing close to
4,000 Cubans on the border between Costa Rica and Nicaragua. While the
official media remained silent about these rafters-on-foot, this tool
has kept their families on the island informed about the fates of their
loved ones trapped in Central America.

Source: IMO, Person of the Year in Cuba | Yoani Sanchez -

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