Thursday, February 25, 2016

Open Letter to ETECSA Against Its Continuous Privacy Violations

Open Letter to ETECSA Against Its Continuous Privacy Violations / Somos+
Posted on February 25, 2016

SOMOS+, 20 February 2016 — We've got a special post today, an Open
Letter written for us by Lizet González Rodríguez, a mother from
Cienfuegos who recounts her battle against the ETECSA monopoly, in
addition to giving us important details about her life and way of
thinking. It also serves as a gloomy reminder of the constant and
flagrant violations this company commits against the privacy of its clients.

We've faithfully honored this author's text. It's a bit extensive, but
it's worth it.


From Lizet González Rodríguez — Thanks to the kindness of the
Revolution and not my own, after 7 years of living with a Latin American
student from the ALBA project in the field of Medicine, it is with a
clean human conscience and without an eye for greed, that it was because
of him, during the last year of his career, I was granted telephone
service as a reward for my hard work, gained in large part due to my
effort and sacrifice, and not due (at all) to the Cuban Revolution. It
was through his stay in the house that we got to know other foreign
students that would visit us for the friendship and familial support our
home provided.

It's well known that our only telecommunications company, ETECSA, famous
for their poor understanding, or their complete ignorance of the
difference between quality service and cost, offers internet services to
foreign students in Cuba.

Since the company does not provide telephone services, these students
visit homes like mine near the school of Medical Sciences that have
telephone service in order to ask for permission to use the family phone
and to link their internet account to our telephone number so they can
stay in touch with their family abroad, thereby using the full palette
of options. They can do this without signing a contract, or without any
explanation of the ins-and-outs of the service, the account owner cannot
use the service that is being linked to their own, and no favors, or
exchanges of any kind takes place.

As another option, they sell a certain amount of hours for a price, and
if they go over their allotted time, they incur extra cost; all this for
an astronomical cost. After some time, practically at the end of the
student's course study, the one we let use our telephone service, we
find ourselves summoned by ETECSA; they accused me, as the named owner
of the telephone account, of committing fraud against the company, and
I, as the account owner, and not the foreign student who had a
contracted service with ETECSA, could do so without needing to
authorize, nor officially sign as owner.

My story begins at the end of 2014, one morning I heard shouting in the
streets and it was directed towards my husband. I got close to the door
and saw three people, one in particular, a supervisor from ETECSA,
Yoiner Besada Chaviano, whose photo I've attached to my letter, I got it
from his Facebook profile, because I consider him to be the most
sadistic and sarcastic person that could exist in this company, truly
fear inspiring; he's followed by two people, one who is the whistle
blowing agent from MININT [Ministry of the Interior], who days earlier
had been interrogating the neighbors.

But, not to get off topic, I'll tell you how things went down. Not
wanting to explain myself from behind the fence and in front of the
neighbors, I invited them in my house.

Amusingly, supervisor Besada said they were there due to anomalies in my
service and they wanted to check the service connection in the house, of
course, without a service order, or warrant. I agreed since I had
nothing to hide. They didn't find what they were looking for.
Afterwards, I told them to come outside to the patio to where the
telephone connection hooked up and again, they didn't find any
"anomaly." We went back into the living room where I asked them exactly
what type of anomalies they expected to find? He said he wasn't sure,
but they were under orders from the Havana office's anti-fraud department.

I kept pressing the question and he continued to be evasive. Finally, I
asked the million dollar question: "Do you think it's from an internet
connection that a medical student has linked up with my phone?" He
answered with another question as would any of his kind, "Ah, why do you
have an internet connection?" "You should know," I said, "it wouldn't
come in through thin air, nor satellite, but through an obsolete
telephone cable."

That's when he gave me a summons and had me sign to the effect that my
husband, who is the account owner, should appear at his offices next
week to explain the use of the telephone services and another form where
it said that our telephone service was under investigation. I didn't
sign this last form because I didn't agree with it, not to mention, I
wasn't the user under contract.

My husband went to the interview where we left practically accused by a
commission of telephone fraud and were to await a judgement. Two days
later our service was cut off and the company had us under
investigation. We were notified that same day of the suspension, which
had to be done within 30 days, and our service remained cut off for 2
months despite the fact that the investigation was supposed to take only
9 days. Ok, fine, my questions are thus:

— How can they sell an internet service to a student without providing a
personal line to link it and force him to give 2 telephone numbers of
third parties in order to get service?

— How do you charge a telephone account, month after month, for access
to ENET and continue collecting fees from a student for internet service
if according to your company, it was fraudulent?

— How do you investigate and prosecute a national user if he never had a
contract for said service and as a consequence, his link, if he wasn't
notified to verify what happened and inform him of his national rights
and duties, or is that something too unimaginable to ask for?

— And finally, how could this national user be prosecuted for a fraud he
didn't commit due to not being the person authorized to use the said
service, without being notified, but investigated, stepped on, judged,
bullied instead of it being the foreign user who is the exclusive party?

In February of 2015, after 2 months and several weeks, the judgement on
the investigation found the national user committed "telephone fraud"
and was issued an excessive fine, based on the company's losses, which
as we all know is a totally inflated rate, it's extremely expensive,
well out of the financial reach of people who work and is compensated
with only a part of their salary.

This supposed fee for "the alleged economic losses" incurred by ETECSA,
was expected to be paid in CUC [hard currency], which is not the
customary, monetary form of payment for services.

This case is based on subjective proof and threats, in findings of
espionage through the use of the telephone service likely by cell phone
(my cell phone), while they violated the terms of confidentiality of
clients without any recourse, and they were always sure to note they
wouldn't give any data if we got a lawyer, and all the while, this
threatened to uncover our own Pandora's box: that our mobile telephone
service, for which we Cubans pay a veritable fortune, has become our
worse enemy; they tap all our calls and listen to our messages in a
truly despicable manner and later use them against us.

And fine, I ask myself:

Where does this leave this dominated people's rights to citizenship, to

How far can the impunity of man go? How can they reduce us to a bare

In this abusive and arbitrary, and somewhat polemic case, I was found to
be acting as "head of a group," named without much explanation (since I
wasn't the account owner, but my husband).

Just the chilling image of a video conference, they'd say from Havana,
could very well be from the office next door, explaining via antiquated
and stupid equipment run by a paid underling which they claim are the
same services used by the Highest Offices of the Province so they can
speak to their families abroad, some because they can't afford it
economically, and others so they're not monitored by machinery used for
spying by those they flatter and defend. Betraying themselves when they
seem lost, the very occurrence of making a call to a third-party in the
outside world as a suspected fraud.

How long are we going to be prisoners of a system that doesn't let us
communicate with the real world so that people continue to live under
the shadow of an expired world model without knowing reality, a reality
that we all know is censorship and being manipulated by a system imposed
on our country, while they shout to the four winds that they are not the
ones who deprive us of these services, rather it is the fault of a
brutal imperialism that makes them do it and limits our development, the
very same imperialism with which they are currently seeking to
re-establish relations.

Even though our rights are neglected in contemporary Cuba. How far and
for how long are we to suffer the despotism and trampling of rights
normally bestowed to any individual in other parts of the world, making
us prisoners on our very soil.

Given everything that was exposed, I had to "hand over" my telephone
service to a neighbor in order to pay the "compensation."

A year later, in February 2016, the second part of this nightmare
begins. The neighbor that I gave my telephone service to was called in
by ETECSA for suspicion of fraud, which we thought was the result of
some leftover data error that reappeared from the last case that came to
the surface now that she has no internet access. I mean, since December
2014, that phone did not have an internet link tied to it.

In her case, the same history was repeated in those offices, she was
surrounded by "a commission" of 8 individuals, like a firing squad, and
through their affirmations their intimidations, where they told her that
her telephone service was under constant monitoring during the last year
(once again, a clear violation of citizen rights).

During the questioning, it became known that I, the little so-and-so,
had "transferred" my telephone service, to which she explained that I
had done so due to the problems previously described and my desire to
not continue with this named entity's service.

Afterwards, they continued questioning why she used services like "3
party calls, call waiting, and busy signals, etc. (Ah, fellas, isn't
this . . . phone service?) to which she alleged that she didn't stop
those features because she didn't think it was necessary, plus they
questioned the use of a card to call long distance to which she gave her
own explanation. They argued that it was through that same avenue that
fraud continued to be committed, something totally impossible and stupid
(which now is sadly a common occurrence), ironically, even by they

When she asks why she's being investigated and accused by this
"commission," all of this, mind you, without any proof of internet
access and without knowledge of the subject, is when they asked her
about me, if Lizet González, daughter of . . . if I've visited her home,
used her telephone, if she's given me an illegal extension, what's my
relationship with her, etc. to which she responded: No.

This is when they tell her, clearly intending to create conflict between
neighbors, that I'm tricking her and using her (I guess, telepathy, or
magic), and since I don't have a phone, I have somehow interfered with
her connection, making it some kind of receptor so that I can continue
my "telephone fraud."

It is inexplicable for a reasonable person to understand, always arguing
even amongst themselves, questioning the sheer possibility of it all,
and in the end, thinking "yes, it can be so."

Nevertheless, without giving much explanation, after an afternoon of
shock and visible deterioration, my poor neighbor was advised to go
home, to change her telephone number, cancel all her services with
ETECSA and that afterwards said entity would give her the "ultimate
verdict" — to either pay a high restitution "for nothing," or end her
telephone service.

This is where we are in this moment and of course, there's much friction
between the families, but once more, this is just another sad example of
Divide and Conquer.

I ask myself. Now, do I truly warrant this type of high-level attention
as if I worked for the CIA, or NASA?

This has an indisputable not so hidden connotation: politics.

Political views vary within my family. My father is a retired, General
of a Brigade. My husband, on the other hand, is one of the few direct
family members of Luis Clemente Posada Carriles living in Cuba; this is
reason that neither of us can have communication with the exterior
without being monitored by "them."

They wanted to stay on top of what we thought, even what we ate, and
this intensified after my husband presented an invitation for an
entrance visa at the U.S. Interest Section in Cuba for his radicalized
cousin in 2013. She didn't have anything to do with his previously
mentioned Uncle, but it left us MARKED and of course, the visa was not
granted, so we wouldn't have gone through this nightmare if it hadn't
been for that.

Since that time, a relentless pursuit began, to strangle us with
never-ending fines (related to other entities), all arbitrary and
inexplicable, asphyxiating our family's economy of which I have the proof.

The goal of this letter is to relay my story, one of thousands as a
victim of a system that for a long time, I DO NOT BELIEVE; the one that
my father, a man who I admire and respect, fought for, one that promised
and didn't deliver as we all know, that brags about non-existent human
rights that are constantly violated; that represses, that abuses; that
blocks; that persecutes; that brands anyone who wants change as
counter-revolutionary, those who intend to revolutionize problems; or
has the concept already changed?

This letter could cost me dearly, but it's necessary for the world to
know the reality we live in and all the deprivation and spying the Cuban
people are subjected to. That's why I am demanding my rights and liberty
and nothing more than what should be ours. I don't think we should wait
anymore for it, but instead, we should pursue the truth. Change is
within our grasp, that's why every day WE ARE MORE (Somos+), we are
voices that rise up to denounce the oppressive abuses of those who
suppress us as a people, as Cubans.


Lizet González Rodríguez

Natural de Avenida 30 entre 47 y 49, edificio 2, apto 9. Cienfuegos. Cuba


Source: Open Letter to ETECSA Against Its Continuous Privacy Violations
/ Somos+ | Translating Cuba -

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