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Thirty ideas from people under 30: The Change Agents

The Monitor interviewed young artisans, politicians, educators, entrepreneurs and faith leaders. And they have trenchant suggestions on how to improve the world. We'll serve this smorgasbord in bite-size servings of 3 to 7 profiles per day. Today's lineup of change agents includes a British activist, a voice for justice in Pakistan, and a web guru in search of former extremists.

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Romy Portuondo Remior, 22, Cuban-American youth activist.
Courtesy of Romy Portuondo Remior
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Romy Portuondo Remior: A Cuban 'Evolutionary'

More than 50 years after Fidel Castro's revolution, Cuba remains politically and socially isolated, its people largely blocked from external communications by an authoritarian regime.

Enter Romy Portuondo Remior – born in Havana, raised in Miami since she was 5, and now a rising star in the Cuban-American community – who wants to foment an "Evolution," one tweet and YouTube video at a time. Ms. Portuondo Remior, 22, a board member of the Cuban American National Council, believes passionately in the potential for social media to inform and empower Cuba's people, to help effect change.

Challenges loom, of course. Access to the Web in Cuba is generally slow, expensive, and heavily restricted by the government. With only about 14 percent of the population online – and many of the connections sporadic – Cuba has the lowest rate of Internet access in Latin America.

Yet the tech-savvy are increasingly finding ways to connect with the outside world, and Portuondo Remior, a management team member at Roots of Hope, a nonprofit that empowers Cuban youth, believes new, easy-to-access social networking methods can expose Cuban Web users to more news, views, and information.

"When one of Cuba's dissidents sends out a tweet or blog, we know about it. They have a spotlight on them. But what about the everyday people in Cuba? We need to motivate them to do more than just socialize online. We need to engage them – they need to hear and be heard," says Portuondo Remior.

"Social media is going to have a role in creating a new civic culture, a new form of expression for the Cuban people who for so long have lived literally and figuratively on an island. Social media is a tool to give them a fresh perspective on a world they have limited access to."

– Jacqui Goddard, Miami

Next: Jared Cohen: Moderator of extremism

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