Tuesday, December 30, 2014

A New Thesis about Cuba’s Weekly Package (Part II)

A New Thesis about Cuba's Weekly Package (Part II)
December 29, 2014
Isbel Diaz Torres

HAVANA TIMES – The Cuban State has more than enough qualified personnel,
trained at the country's well-stocked technical and military academies
and the University of Information Sciences (UCI), to develop a project
as wide-encompassing and complex as the "weekly package."

See Part I

Someone could of course ask: why go to so much trouble? If the Cuban
government is able to remain in power, among other methods, by
maintaining the people uninformed, it would seem contradictory to create
a system that takes information to people.

The package, however, could well be the latest government strategy to
deny Cubans access to the Internet. Just look at how this process has

- Do you need an anti-virus. You have the Cuban company Segurmatica.
- Do you want a digital encyclpedia like Wikipedia? You have Ecured.
- Do you want an email service? You have Nauta, offered by Cuban servers.
- Do you want to access social networks? You have La Tendedera,
available on intranet at Cuba's computer clubs.
- Do you want an operating system? You have Nova, a Cuban GNU/Linux product.
- Do you want to have your own, personal blog? You have Reflejos or
Bloguea, offered by national servers.
- Do you need a search engine? You have 2×3 (a platform that no one
knows whether it's ever worked or not) or Orion (developed at the UCI),
used to conduct searches in Cuban servers.

But that is not the bulk of people's needs.

- Do you want to watch cheap soaps, listen to the latest reggaeton
number, take in some reality shows, good and bad films or Discovery
Channel documentaries, read gossip magazines and see anything that runs
contrary to Cuba's cultural policy? Then you have the "package."

What we won't have is access to the Internet to be able to look for what
we want, when we need to and without any ideological filters – the
ability to organize ourselves and know, first hand, about civil
disobedience in other parts of the world and other parts of Cuba, to do
research and establish personal links with other citizens, to push
forward the new type of journalism that critics speak of.

To the optimists who want to see steps towards technological sovereignty
in the items listed above, I will say only that, in practice, nearly
none of those platforms (particularly those aimed at interpersonal
communication) actually work, and those that do abide by "security"
regulations that undermine user rights or are simply out of the
financial reach of most Cubans.

In my view, these have been created to produce the semblance of a
society "in step with the times", capable of inserting itself, without
any critical resistance, in the new world order – and there is nothing
better for this than a technology that has been deprived of the few
liberating elements we could develop within it.

To be sure, the strategy aimed at "computerizing Cuban society" was
designed many years ago and consists in this: to pass all contents
through the filters of the governing bureaucracy and make only a sterile
and stagnant world of information available to the population.

The technicians and ideologues behind this project have presented it at
different academic gatherings, where we are told about the Portal del
Ciudadano ("The Citizen's Portal") and about how all information will be
provided us by a powerful and self-sufficient intranet.

An editorial published by Granma on December 12 is quite revealing in
this connection. The article refers to the implementation of the
national information platform known as Red Cuba, "designed to ensure, in
a sovereign fashion, the presence of contents produced in the country
and representative of its culture, characterized by quality and
diversity, managed and administered by Cuban entities, with a view to
satisfying the information needs of the public and offering needed
services, as well as guaranteeing access to international networks."

The 154 Internet locales scattered across the country and the "broader
possibilities to connect to the Internet in different locations, to
include public libraries and post offices," as well as platforms for
university and institutional networks that "could eventually offer their
services to society as a whole," are offered as examples of this
nationwide network.

These experts have never spoken about the package, of course. When they
are asked about it, they claim not to know where it comes from.
Curiously enough, those who participate in its distribution say the same

We should follow the money trail and not pay too much attention to the
sad analysts employed by the Ministry of Culture, who simply don't know
what to say in light of so much political schizophrenia.

It's a question of keeping the "masses" entertained, docile, isolated
from true consumption, in other words, the well-known social control
strategy used by States to guarantee governability and that Cuba is
setting in motion at a time when less and less can be justified on the
basis of Cuba-US conflicts.

I don't have any proof of this, only the package. Which is why, to be
more precise, rather than a thesis, this is more of a hypothesis. But
does that make it less true?

Read my two posts, analyze them, and I think you won't find it hard to
discover what the true aim of the package is, even after it has made it
to the street, has been restructured and enriched with other contents by
distributors to make it look like an exercise in social autonomy.

Source: A New Thesis about Cuba's Weekly Package (Part II) - Havana
Times.org - http://www.havanatimes.org/?p=108247

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