Friday, June 22, 2012

Cuban blog gathering prompts official criticism

Posted on Thursday, 06.21.12

Cuban blog gathering prompts official criticism
Associated Press

HAVANA -- Cuban bloggers and tweeters talked tech in Havana on Thursday
at a Spanish-organized forum promoting social media in one of the
world's most unplugged nations, prompting accusations from state-run
media of an attempt to foment subversive activities.

With about 50 people present on the first day of the three-day Click
Festival, organizers and attendees insisted their purposes are not

"Click Festival is a technological event that aspires to spread the
world about the use of new technologies here in Cuba," said Spaniard
Jose Luis Antunez, one of the organizers. "It's an apolitical event,
although it may have some links, and above all we want people of all
ideological stripes to attend."

Antunez is a member of Spain Blog Event, or EBE for its initials in
Spanish, which holds a similar conference each year in its home country
and gets sponsorship from tech companies such as Microsoft and IBM.

Thursday evening, Cuban state-run website Cubadebate posted a strongly
worded editorial seizing upon such corporate sponsorship, among other
things, to allege nefarious intent by the organizers.

"In Havana they are cooking up a subversive monster, supposedly not
politicized, 'promoting' the use of information and communications
technologies," the editorial read.

"The intention of the Click Festival is clear," Cubadebate added. "To
advance the strategy of constructing networks ahead of an aggression, as
was done in Libya, Syria and before in Yugoslavia, and strengthen the
idea of the counterrevolution linked to the United States as a promoter
of freedom on the Internet."

Dissident blogger Yoani Sanchez, who is routinely excoriated in the
official media, kept up a fast-paced barrage of tweets on subjects such
as Cuba's woeful Internet access and the "rights of the Internaut."

"We Cubans are ready to become human beings of the 21st century," she
told journalists. "We want to have access, and enjoy and learn from the
new technologies."

Cuba is one of the least-connected countries in the world and relies on
costly, plodding satellite hookup.

The government historically has complained that the U.S. embargo
prevented it from linking to undersea cables that run near the island.

However a $70 million fiber-optic link strung from Venezuela has not
changed Internet access in Cuba so far, and it's not even clear whether
it's being used.

Cuban authorities stopped talking about the cable last year after its
arrival, amid rumors of corruption and project mismanagement.

A Venezuelan official said recently that the cable was operational, but
did not address rumors of problems with the infrastructure the cable was
to link to.

Follow Andrea Rodriguez on Twitter at

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