Cointelegraph By Joe Hall
Cuba, a country known for its unique blend of rich history, vibrant culture and political isolation, is the focus of Cointelegraph’s latest on-the-ground documentary. The Truth Behind Cuba’s Bitcoin Revolution explores Bitcoin’s (BTC) impact in one of the world’s last remaining communist states.
The documentary provides a firsthand account of how Cubans are using Bitcoin to navigate challenging economic circumstances, attract new businesses and save money in a censorship-heavy environment.
Journalist and Bitcoin enthusiast Joe Hall embarked on the journey to Cuba, determined to witness and capture the “Bitcoin revolution” that gained prominence in Alex Gladstein’s book Check Your Financial Privilege. Gladstein explains how Cubans have harnessed Bitcoin’s stateless, low-fee nature to escape financial oppression and secure their savings.
The documentary explores how Bitcoin has taken root in the Cuban financial landscape, brought to life through interviews and interactions with Cubans, as well as the co-founders of the “Cuba Bitcoin” community — Forte, Catrya and Bitalion (not their real names). Paco de la India, a regular Cointelegraph contributor, traveled with Hall and provides feedback and commentary throughout the documentary.
Bitcoin users in Cuba primarily engage in peer-to-peer transactions, buying and selling Bitcoin through Telegram and Signal groups. They run nodes with limited resources and evade online surveillance and access banned internet sites with VPNs.
Unlike many countries, Cuba is devoid of centralized crypto exchanges such as Coinbase or Binance. Plus, Cubans are banned from creating accounts due to the country’s poor diplomatic relations with the United States.
Consequently, the environment for Bitcoin in Cuba is a unique ecosystem that operates almost entirely outside of the reach of the state. Moreover, the resilient Bitcoin community is set against a backdrop of economic hardship. Seventy-two percent of Cubans live below the poverty line, and while the minimum monthly wage is approximately $30, Catrya — one of the documentary’s main characters — explains that it is closer to $13.
Cuba’s economic hardships are exacerbated by hyperinflation, with the Cuban peso losing more than 940% of its value in the last two years. Through testimonials and interviews with Cubans across Havana, it’s clear that Bitcoin has emerged as a lifeline for those looking to protect their savings from currency devaluation.
Related: Cuba Bitcoin community hosts BTC-only meetup
The documentary captures the grassroots adoption of Bitcoin in Cuba. It also highlights the efforts of the humble Cuba Bitcoin community, who spend their time educating and propagating the principles of Bitcoin to Cubans in an environment where the consequences of their actions are uncertain.
Ultimately, as Bitcoin continues to gain traction in Cuba, it remains to be seen how the government will react to the emergence of a parallel financial system. The Truth Behind Cuba’s Bitcoin Revolution provides a rare glimpse into a nation on the cusp of transformative change. Bitcoin could offer Cubans a glimmer of hope and freedom on an island where such aspirations have been long suppressed.
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