The Fallacy of Internet in Cuba / Jeovany Jimenez Vega

Cubans waiting for the internet under Fidel’s watchful eye. Source: Global post, from: Photographer: STR / Source: AFP/Getty Images

Not to slam Granma, but it happens to be the only publication I subscribe to and I, like millions of Cubans, do not have access to the Internet so here’s my revenge. I couldn’t help reading in the International section of the July 6 edition the unfortunate way in which the Latin Press Agency scored another miscue, this time with the statements of its president Luis Enrique Gonzalez who just said at a world summit on mass media that in Cuba, “… more than 30% of the population has access to the Internet, and another 30% to the new technologies, through social services that now exist on the World Wide Web.”

Guys like Luis Enrique leave me flabbergasted, publicly putting out this lie in the crudest way. On hearing this anyone would suppose that Cuba has a connectivity rate comparable to any other country in the region, when the reality is quite different. This gentleman knows that the political authorities and the Cuban government has been doing everything humanly possible to keep their people in absolute cyber-darkness; that in my country only a privileged few can access the Internet, and even they with dagger of censorship threatening to oust from their jobs anyone with the temerity of post some “inappropriate” comment, because the Party that oversees everything is not going to make an exception just for something as strategic as information.

If the selected journalists, rancid Roundtable panelists, managing directors of foreign companies, diplomatic personnel, high officials or exceptional public figures ideologically aligned with the Cuban government are permitted to connect from home, or the students who make up the pathetic cybernetic response brigades from the University of Information Sciences join the count of this 30%, it would still be a count that this Cuban would greatly doubt, and we must always take into account, that in order to be on line the sine qua non is always absolute submission to the rules established by the inquisitors.

I hope that Mr. Director of the Latin Press, when he speaks of the other 30% who have “access” to the new technologies, is not referring to the declining network of “Youth Clubs” or the misnamed “surfing rooms” in some post offices, places from which, with great luck, you might barely be able to write an email and where, inexorably, the censoring eye of the Party and the Political Police are looking over your shoulder, which is no secret to anyone.

I also hope that they are not referring to the most select sector which has the affluence required to pay the extortionate fee to connect in hotels — between 6.00 to 12.00 Cuban convertible pesos (CUC) for one hour (which is $6.60 to $13.20 in US dollars, or, if we look at the average monthly salary of 400.00 Cuban pesos, the cost is 150.00 to 300.00 Cuban pesos) — which is fixed by Resolution No. 146/2012 of April 27, established for our workers by the Ministry of Finance and Prices, all of which would make one die laughing if it weren’t so serious.

Regardless of what this head-in-the-clouds director says, I do know something very specific: it may be pure chance (?) but I don’t know a single Cuban doctor in my entire circle of relationships who connects to the Internet, nor a single one of my neighbors in the many streets around, nor one of my family members, nor any friend, who can connect freely from their home which is also true for me and every blogger I know.

There are no two ways about it: the Cuban government deliberately keeps its people deprived of Internet access because it fears the free flow of information and desperately needs to maintain the most absolute monopoly on it to preserve its power without jumping through hoops. More than once I’ve said: I maintain with absolute certainty that if the powers-that-be in Havana considered it convenient for the maintenance of their status, our people would be able to access the Web regardless of any economic or political obstacles, including the United States embargo.

Thus, I would suggest that Mr. Luis Enrique, a complete professional of the press, at least learn to lie with more subtlety for the sake of the brand new agency he represents.

July 22 2012