Despite Censorship and Poor Internet, Cuban Podcasts are Booming

No subject is off limits.

El Enjambre provided detailed coverage of the remarkable July 11 anti-government protests in Cuba and searing criticism of the ruthless crackdown that followed.

The hosts also dissected the dismal state of the health care system as Covid-19 cases surged on the island, mocked the sputtering initiatives by the government to allow some private sector activities, such as garage sales, and attempted to read the tea leaves on the future of Washington’s relationship with Havana.

Each episode includes a short, humorous, scripted drama, a segment called History without Hysteria and a lengthy conversation that tends to focus on the issues Cubans have been arguing about on social media over the past few days.

“The objective was to create a conversation like you’d have on any street corner in Cuba,” Mr. Condis said. “But we provide only verified facts, because it matters greatly to us to never provide false information.”

Mr. Condis said he steered clear of using what he views as needlessly polarizing language, refraining, for instance, from referring to the Cuban government as a dictatorship. The hosts don’t take for granted the relative freedom they have enjoyed so far in criticizing the government. After all, Cuba does not have press freedom laws and critical journalists are often subject to harassment and home detention.

“At any moment they might go to war with us and take us off the air,” Mr. Condis said.

If anyone has been pushing the boundaries it’s Ms. Sánchez, an ardent critic of the government who first gained prominence as an early adopter of technology in 2007, when she began writing a raw and lyrical blog about life on the island.

In December 2018, when Cuba’s telecommunications company Etecsa began offering data plans for smartphones, Ms. Sánchez saw an opportunity to expand the reach of her journalism, which had previously been distributed as an emailed newsletter and a PDF file.