Monday, March 23, 2015

Internet in Cuba, I’ll believe it when I see it

Internet in Cuba, I'll believe it when I see it / Jeovany Jimenez Vega
Posted on March 22, 2015

"If you want to free a country, give it the internet." Wael Gonium

Jeovany Jimenez Vega, 25 February 2015 — A vice president who gives an
assurance that the country "… is committed to social information" but
who then automatically sees it as being led by the communist party, and
who sees it as "…a key weapon for the revolutionaries to get
participation in the social project we desire": who at the same time
emphasises that "… everyone's right to the internet presupposes the duty
to use it properly and in accordance with the law, and also presupposes
the responsibility to be vigilant about the defence of the country and
its integrity", and a Deputy Minister of Communications assuring us that
along with the economic development of this sector there must also be
running in parallel the "political and ideological strengthening of the
society," are indications that we will not see anything different
anytime soon after the recent Information and Biosecurity workshop ends.

The underhand warning which indicates the presence in the front row of
Col. Alejandro Castro — implied candidate to inherit the family throne —
and the silence whenever the subject turns to his father, President Raúl
Castro; Comandante Ramiro Valdés' permanent position in charge of the
Ministry of Communications — twice ex-Minister of the Interior, the most
rancid relic from Cuba's historic establishment and the chief
implementer of current repressive methods — all reciting together the
same refried speech and the repeated ignoring by the Cuban government of
the latest offers of the US telecommunication companies for when the
embargo controls are relaxed, are factors which make us think that
nothing is about to change in Cuba in relation to the internet, and that
we are only starting a new chapter in this soap opera of demagogy and

The Cuban-in-the-street can't see it any other way, living under a
government which, up to now, has charged him a quarter of his monthly
basic salary for every hour on the internet; for him, every word heard
at the end of the workshop referred to continues to smell of bad omens,
sounds like more of the same, especially when we bear in mind that this
shameless tariff is not for any high quality high-speed service, in the
comfort of our homes, as you might expect, but which they have
characterised in the worst way, only available in cyber rooms of the
dual-monopoly ETECSA-SEGURIDAD DEL ESTADO, and, because of that limited
to their opening hours, at a 2 Mb/second speed, and using PCs with
restricted copy-paste and often with disabled USB connections, with all
keystrokes tracked and with more than one "problematic" page blocked. In
fact, nothing you wouldn't expect from a government which recently
created a brand-new Cyberspace Security Centre, presumably intended to
become a virtual equivalent to the notorious Section 22 of its police

Meanwhile, in Guayaquil, Ecuador, I repress my swearwords every time I
stop in front of a cyber room's poster offering me three hours of
internet for a dollar!, in a country with an average monthly salary of
about $500, a country which is also third world, but which offers free
wi-fi in many public places, including bus stations, in restaurants and
malls, where internet and TV satellite dishes are a common urban sight
even in the poorest neighbourhoods. There couldn't be a more obvious
contrast between this reality and what we Cubans have to live with in Cuba.

All the above confirms for me every day more strongly my ongoing
conviction that information control will be the last card in the deck
that the Cuban dictatorship is going to give up. Nothing will have
changed in Cuba for so long as all Cubans don't have open unconditional
uncensored access to the internet from our homes. This is such an
obvious truth, and would represent such a decisive step forward toward
the real opening-up of Cuban society, that only on that day will I
believe that change has started. It's as simple as that.

Translated by GH

Source: Internet in Cuba, I'll believe it when I see it / Jeovany
Jimenez Vega | Translating Cuba -

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