Archive for June, 2008

The Palace Tantrum

Not long ago I declared that in this blog that our dear comrade Fidel was not a theme that interested me. This is true, but what does interest me is my friends and fellow travelers on this road. And now Yoani has received, without soliciting it, the graciousness of the consecration from the the most high: his eminence has immortalized her in the prologue of the book: Fidel, Bolivia, and Something More…. And not only by including a reference to her in a paragraph where he calls on personalities so famous, and so contradictory, as José Martí and Che, but because it is perhaps the first time that the proud Cuban ex-president takes aim with his frightful gun towards a humble common Cuban. Because if it was a small thing to include her in a publication of his gang, the June 23rd edition of the newspaper Grandpa has just reproduced, over two and a half pages, the aforementioned prologue, which suggests the intention to develop a media campaign against the well known Cuban blogger. The “arguments” are the same as always: that American imperialism, and also European, are preparing “the spade work” against Cuba. This time, it is not a matter of the “small groups” and the traditional “mercenaries” which have been presented so many times in the press and on television’s Mesa Redonda [Roundtable]. Now we are facing another Cuban, one without any political affiliation and without the least intention of bothering senior citizens, presented as the threatening Medusa of the nation, servant of the ex-metropolis. How sick is that?!

Many things can mask themselves behind the disproportionate attack on alternative opinion in the person of Yoani, but the most evident in this palace tantrum is the impotence in the face of the accepted fact: in Cuba there exists different criteria for those whom the official press publish; there are anxieties about freedom of expression, the will to do it, and hope for a better country; and the entire world knows it. Yoani is not the only palm. Nor do we need her messianic intervention, or anyone’s, to think with our own heads. If the arrogant patriarch preferred to ignore this and the foreign press covered it, it’s their problem. We are not making ourselves responsible for his intentional ignorance. Neither has the official press published the emphatic reply of journalist Reinaldo Escobar, Yoani’s husband, to the invectives of the all powerful one.  The little king does not comprehend, from his infinite pride, that there are many who value a sincere opinion over the boring Reflections from obsolescence. At this point, not even History could absolve him.

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A recent article (Monday, June 9, 2008, in the Granma newspaper) reports that the announced 1500 km underwater cable that will link Cuba and Venzuela via “two pairs of fiber-optics” should finally be hooked up around the end of 2009 or the beginning of 2010, “in such a way that in the first half of the latter year, the system would be able to begin operations.”  The referred text says that, with this cable, this country’s current capacity for links with other countries could be multiplied by 3000.

What the article doesn’t make clear is if this “cutting edge technology” will also be destined to democratize communications within the interior of the Island, in what measure the population will have access to the Internet with all of the facilities that it involves, how much cheaper the price of tickets in the scarce cyber-cafés will be, and how many more will be opened to the public by this magical, long-awaited cable.

That is to say, if the criminal blockade by the U.S. government is preventing the connection of Havana to the Cancún-Miami cable which passes only 32 kilometers from our beloved Malecón, is it supposed that this new cable will be the end of the internal blockade that the authorities have imposed on us, at least in relation to communications?

Because, while the tight and absolute control over communications continues, and while there are no changes to the interior of the country, a whole web of fiber optics could be woven connecting us to Venezuela, Nicaragua, or any other country, without it signifying a substantial improvement for Cubans.  As long as there is no change in mentality linking the terms “communications” and “individual liberties,” the new technologies won’t serve to do anything more than reinforce old ideologies, and the brand-new access will only permit the reading of the Granma International Newspaper and similar sites.  Hopefully, between now and the final implementation of the Cuba-Venezuela link, Cuban society will be in a position to exercise, freely and without restrictions, its right to connect with the world.

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