Cuban lecturer and activist to visit UAF

Lakeidra Chavis/Sun Star Reporter
Nov. 19, 2013

Activist, journalist and blogger Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo will be visiting UAF to talk about internet restrictions in Cuba, his native country.

Pardo Lazo will visit UAF from Nov. 25 to 27 and will give a discussion titled “Virtual Leadership in Today’s Cuban Blogosphere.” The lecture is focused on Cuba’s blogosphere, or their current blog atmosphere, compared to free blogging without restrictions.

His lecture on Nov. 25 will take place in the Schiable Auditorium in Bunnell from 6 to 8 p.m. The presentation is open to everyone.

In Cuba, internet use in private homes is currently restricted. In early June, the Cuban government expanded the amount of public internet availability throughout the country. There are many people in and outside of Cuba who disagree with these restrictions

Pardo Lazo focuses on engaging Cuban youth with social media, specifically blogging about their experiences living in Cuba. Due to this, Lazo has been arrested by Cuban secret police.

Daniel Darrow, a Spanish instructor, first learned about Pardo Lazo by following him on Twitter. One day, Pardo Lazo asked where his followers were from. When Darrow responded, “Alaska,” Pardo Lazo said that it was his father’s dream to travel here, according to Darrow. Pardo Lazo then asked if he could speak at the university.

“I told him I would try with no guarantees and the ball started rolling from there,” Darrow said in an email.

Pardo Lazo will be speaking to some Communication, Political Science and Justice classes. He will also give a presentation on his topic to an advanced Spanish class, to not only talk about the issues Cuba faces but so students can hear Spanish spoken in a Cuban dialect, Darrow said.

Darrow did not have any official funding to bring Lazo up to Alaska, but talked to different departments and organizations to get help. Darrow received funding from ASUAF, the College of Liberal Arts, as well as the Office of Diversity and Equal Opportunity and the Political Science, Foreign Languages and Communication departments.

Pardo Lazo will also be interviewed on the KSUA radio talk show, General Protection Fault on Wednesday, Nov. 27, at 7 p.m.

“I am interested in learning about how him and his fellow bloggers have found ways around the censorship and the cost issues that he faces,” said Jeremy Smith, producer and host of General Protection Fault, “So we will most likely talk about that and other issues which face bloggers dealing with a repressive regime.”

Pardo Lazo is currently touring the U.S. to spread awareness. He has spoken at prestigious universities like Brown, Princeton and Georgetown.

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