Thursday, June 23, 2016

The War Against Subcultures on the 'Reflejos' Platform

The War Against Subcultures on the 'Reflejos' Platform
MARÍA MATIENZO PUERTO | La Habana | 22 de Junio de 2016 - 8:59 pm.

Several blogs installed on the Reflejosplatform, in the
domain, have been censored, either because they do not comply with its
absurd and incomprehensible "Terms of Use", or because connectivity
levels are so poor that authors are barely able to update their sites,
which also leads to permanent suspension.

The platform's "monitoring department" is responsible for ensuring that
the domain's "Terms of Use" are observed. There is a similar
department at the Communications Ministry, charged with "monitoring"
both the Cuban blogosphere and activity on the domain.

According to the plastic artist and administrator of the censored blog, "there is a kind of war against all subcultures."

"We were warned three times: once because we published a story featuring
a kind of raw realism that they considered pornography; the second time,
for a series of artistic nudes, most of them from the waist up; and the
third time for promoting a club member's party," says the blogger.

In November of 2015 the bloggers Derbis Campos and Samuel Riera
anonymously informed DIARIO DE CUBA of some of the abuses that they had
been suffering for promoting the Club de Osos de Cuba, composed of men
who like other men.

"It seems that time we didn´t conform to the objectives for which the
platform was created either," says Riera, who wonders whether different
lifestyles will ever be accepted by the supervisors of a network
characterized by their dogmatism and machismo.

The censorship of the blog was inspired by other
motives. An essay by the activist Jimmy Roque Martínez on the UMAPs,
entitled "Con el perdón (o no) de Mariela Castro", prompted the
monitoring to department to slap the blog with a three-month

Subsequently accessing the platform ended up becoming impossible,
according to its administrator, Yasmin Portales: "it was so bad that you
couldn't administrate the blog."

"I would try to upload the same article four or five times, to no avail.
It's a kind of vicious circle, in which we always lose," says Portales.

After three months without being able to update it, the blog was closed due to inactivity.

"The article said that those responsible for the UMAPs are still in
power, and have not been held responsible by the justice system for
their crime." Thus did one of the platform's administrators paraphrase
the most biting section of the article by Jimmy Roque. "And that has no
other interpretation than holding Fidel and Raul accountable. And we
cannot tolerate that."

The administrators of seem to know their jobs very well. Each
censured blog is filed, recording its existence and its infraction. But
they don't really need to check the archives to remember the
"infractions" of each of those censured.

They assure DIARIO DE CUBA that none of their actions have been
personal, but rather strictly related to the duties assigned them.

"The platform is to serve the interests of the Revolution, and our
regulations are very clear on this point," they explain.

"We will not publish anything that threatens the morals or the interests
of the Revolution. Moreover, what the article (Roque's) said is an
interpretation. The UMAPs were like performing Military Service, not
concentration or forced labor camps."

Portales, a blogger and also and LGTB activist, has provided DIARIO DE
CUBA with a list of Cuban blogs on religious themes and sexual diversity
that it is practically impossible to browse.

Access is hampered to, among others, (on the
Afro-Cuban heritage);;; (a religious blog); (the IAl-Masumin Islamic Center);; (a network of people living
with HIV); and (on the HSH project, in Villa Clara).

With regard to blogs featuring religious themes, the administrators of
the Reflejos platform claimed that the suspensions were mainly due to
attempts to raise money or do business via the blogs, acts prohibited by
the Terms of Use.

In the event of an alleged nonconformity, the users of Reflejos can only
communicate via email, although some manage to find phone numbers, and
are attended to. However, at the headquarters of the computer
authorities, located next to Central Park, the orders given the
receptionist are "not to talk to anyone, because they don't take calls
from the public."

Some users wonder whether this "monitoring" extends to other areas of
the Cuban network.

Not long ago, "I was chatting with a friend, a professor at the
University of Pinar del Rio, in a chat room provided by that research
center, and I wrote the phrase 'gay community'. Well, he received,
instead of the word 'gay', the word 'censored'. These are things that
you tell people, and they sound unbelievable, right?" says Derbis Campos.

Other users have had similar experiences, such as being unable to
navigate the CENESEX page from the National Council of Performing Arts,
or from the connection provided by the Hispano-American Center for
artists and writers, because the acronym "SEX" appears in the
institution's name.

Source: The War Against Subcultures on the 'Reflejos' Platform | Diario
de Cuba -

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