MIAMI – A software developer living in Cuba and identified only as “Kuma” – to protect him from the communist island’s authorities – won the top prize at a contest organized for creators of “apps” to make the Internet accessible to the majority of Cubans, contest organizers announced Monday.
According to the organizers of the HeyCuba Hackathon, held here over the weekend and attracting more than 100 contestants, Kuma created an app named Navegar that allows users to get access and navigation ability to any Web site, just like any other such app on the market.
“I really feel honored to have participated in the HeyCuba Hackathon since it provides a practical alternative for Cubans to access services and very useful apps, It was more difficult to participate from Cuba, since the Internet connection keeps going down or disappearing when you need it most,” said Kuma.
The runner-up in the Miami contest developed a solution using email as an intermediary to make Google searches based on the free platform Apreteste created by the event’s organizer, digital coder Salvi Pascual.
The hackathon is an initiative launched by the Florida Vocational Institute, or FIV, headed by Arnie Girnun, who put the FIV’s instructors, computers and installations at the service of the contestants.
The hackathon was deemed a success by Salvi with “so many people interested in this cause and in helping Cuba,” and he added that it was “a unique opportunity allowing us to have people in Cuba and the U.S. working together on something that is completely linked to science.”