Cuba Punishes Doctors for Using Revolico / Cubanet, Orlando Gonzalez

The government has cancelled your INFOMED email account due to its having been used on a classified ad website.

cubanet square logoCubanet, Orlando González, Mayabeque, Cuba, 12 March 2015 — Since February 23, the government has been cancelling some doctors’ and dentists’ internet and email accounts on the nation’s INFOMED network, which the state designates for health care professionals. The reason? Emails were being used to post classified ads on the popular Revolico website. Punitive actions like this are evidence of the government’s intention not to allow free access to Internet, at least in the short term.

The classified ad website  http://www.revolico.com is very well-known among many Cubans on the island. It lists a wide range of products available on the black market, including merchandise at prices much cheaper than those found in state-owned retail stores. The government has tried, so far unsuccessfully, to block access to the site. Nevertheless, Cubans have managed to make a mockery of the limitations by going continue reading

through web services designed to evade censorship (VPN and web proxies). An offline version of the webpage is also delivered to homes through the popular underground entertainment service known as the “national packet.” It contains all the classified ads from the previous week.

Fifty-nine-year-old retired dentist Tania Alonso stated, “INFOMED email is the only way I have of communicating with my family overseas. Now they have taken it away because a nephew of mine, who uses the computer in my house, posted an ad for his cell phone on Revolico and listed my email address. No one told me anything. Only after I asked why I had not had email service for a week did they tell me that I was being sanctioned and they had cancelled my account. I really don’t know if what my nephew did is as serious as all that.”

Doctors in several cities claim they have made complaints in the respective workplaces but have not received explanations for the sanctions.

“It’s unbelievable that visiting a classified ad page — a right in almost every country in the world, including Venezuela — is virtually a crime here,” says Jose Alberto, a gatroenterologist from the city of San Antonio de los Baños. “For this ’indiscretion’ the authorities punish doctors who have served on various international medical missions, taking away their only means of accessing the INFOMED network. I think this action is ridiculous and shows a total lack of respect for health care professionals. We are practically slaves to the government. We work for a salary which barely allows us to eat. In any other country of the world we would be more recognized and appreciated than we are in our own. I am a veteran of three international missions and they take away my access just for using my email address as the contact in a classified ad.”

Revolico.com, screen capture

Another health professional who did not want to be identified said, “I went a week without being able to access my email account and neither the supervisors at my workplace nor the technical support person knew why. Only after I called the INFOMED offices was I informed it had been cancelled.”

CubaNet contacted Carlos Javier Peña Díaz, a co-founder of Revolico and based in Spain, who agreed to comment.

“It’s been seven years since our website was blocked in Cuba and we still don’t understand why,” he notes. “Revolico’s only goal is to help Cubans by providing them with an alternative marketplace based on the classified ad model. They can use our website to easily advertise products or contact sellers.”

Doctors and dentists who have lost their accounts add that they do not agree with this action and will take their complaints as far as is necessary. Their letters of appeal were sent to the management of INFOMED ten days ago and those affected have not yet received a response.