Cubans and Logging In to the Future

Alfredo Fernandez

HAVANA TIMES — Having left Cuba less than a month ago has proven a major revelation for me. Yes, because for a Cuban crossing the limits of the island for the first time brings with it a peculiar significance to the trivial act of traveling in today’s world.

Shortly after arriving to Ecuador, which is far from being a developed country, the unnecessary sacrifice that Cubans are subjected to daily becomes all so clear.

It’s impossible for me to understand why in Cuba we don’t have full Internet service, a tool that interweaves much of the daily life of the inhabitants of the planet.

I also can’t understand always having to search for something to eat on the island? A brief visit to any market in Ecuador and you will find a diversified and affordable offer, even for the less fortunate pocketbook.

I’ll never forget that “conversation” between Eliecer Avila [then a student leader at the Computer University] and Ricardo Alarcon [the former chair of the Cuban parliament], where Alarcon, in one of his usual statements answered the student by saying, that “travel would be the best way to end the doubts of the people on the legitimacy of the Cuban system.”

To be honest Mr. Alarcon, now that I can verify what I always imagined, I reassert what I invariably thought: the difficulties faced by people in Cuba are absolutely unnecessary.

Twenty days ago I left Havana and to this day I cannot find the slightest reason for complicity with what Alarcon defends to the limit. To the contrary, thinking of Cuba I can only feel sorry for my country, even more so for those who have not yet traveled, enabling them to enter into the future and see like me, that which they have known for a long time.

Alfredo Fernandez

Alfredo Fernandez: I didn't really leave Cuba, it's impossible to leave somewhere that you've never been. After gravitating for 37 years on that strange island, I managed to touch firm ground, but only to confirm that I hadn't reached anywhere. Perhaps I will never belong anywhere. Now I'm living in Ecuador, but please, don't believe me when I say where I am, better to find me in "the Cuba of my dreams.

13 thoughts on “Cubans and Logging In to the Future

  • Grady, lighten up.

    I get called all manner of nasty things on a regular basis here and I couldn’t care less. But you seem to have a remarkably thin skin at a little light hearted tease from me.

  • You are so adept at falsification and taking cheap-shots. I’m impressed!

  • You wrote: “Cuba had no acces to fiber-glass cables because of the embargo. Lets wait whether the cable from Vebnezuela wikll change things.”

    The facts are that Cuba did have access to fibre-optic cable, a French firm installed the cable to Venezuela, and two years later, there is still no public connection to the internet.

    If what you wrote is not what you meant, that’s your problem.

    So why didn’t you move from Austria to East Germany?

  • As a Canadian, I can see many things that make the lives of Cubans difficult. I and also see many things to admire and envy.

  • If I may suggest, the phrase you are looking for is “make-believe socialist fantasy”. It cannot actually exist, you cannot even describe it accurately, but it makes you feel good talking about it.

  • Griffin, I see the point that you–and Moses–make so well, with 20/20 vision. The Marxian, state monopoly deviation from authentic socialism is utterly dysfunctional–and utterly asinine.

    And yet, the alternative to this moronic deviation cannot be the monopoly-capitalist monster that you seem to idealize.

    I’ve struggled to find a synonym for the form of socialism that would be, in fact, authentic and workable. The nearest I’ve come up with, thus far, is “social-capitalism”–which may or may not survive intellectual discourse.

    But, what I know for certain is that the bankocracy of monopoly-capitalism is not working, and it is destroying our world and civilization.

  • Griffin: you`re just one of those cold war paranoiacs with your hart – warming anti communist stories. There was never a lack of vegetables in the GDR first of all, second of all, if you had read my article carefully, I never denied the existence of the cable from Venezuela. I just mentioned, that it would take years to set up an adequate infrastructure to allow also individuals access to the internet. So stop seeing everything through your anti-communist and anti Castro propaganda -eyes.

  • So the embargo on US internet monitoring technology is slowing the expansion of the Cuban internet? I suspect there’s also the matter of training sufficient numbers of Cuban technicians who will be responsible for operating the snooping equipment. Perhaps more significantly, the delay is a reflection of the internal power struggle between old guard Fidelists who want to keep things the way they never really were, and the more progressive Raulists who want to move more quickly to a Chinese model military/corporate dictatorship.

  • Griffin, I believe the delay in delivering ‘affordable’ internet access to the Cuban people is a little more complicated than the obvious fear the Castros have that this access with severely lessen their ability to control reality. The latest technology to monitor internet and text messages entering and leaving the island already widely exists today but is closely held by the US and a few allies. Even the Chinese do not have the same level of expertise in snooping without slowing down the upload speeds of the user. Given that, it is rumored that the Castros are currently building a Chinese version of this snoop technology but are in the market for what the US uses. Until the Castros have the capacity to fully control the flow of information, the process will likely be delayed.

  • I have heard of similar reactions experienced by immigrants form Eastern bloc countries. The aunt of a friend of mine had just arrived in Canada from East Germany. The older woman had insisted on accompanying her niece to the grocery story to help with the shopping. Back in East German, shopping for groceries was a difficult and harrowing experience and no way did this hardened German woman expect her young niece capable of managing it on her own. So they drove to the local supermarket, parked the car and walked inside the Loblaws. The old women was stunned to see row after row of food, long coolers of meat, milk and cheese, and most astonishingly of all, pyramids of neatly piled oranges. It was the oranges that got her. She collapsed sobbing in the produce aisle. The niece had to drive her aunt back home to rest.

    “They lied! They lied! They said you were all starving! They lied!” the old woman cried.

  • Cuba does indeed have access to fibre optic cables as well as all the assorted networking equipment required to establish a modern internet service to the island. A Chinese subsidiary of the French company Alcatel-Lucent was contracted to lay the under-sea cable from Venezuela to Cuba. This job was completed in 2011. Since that time the Cuban gov’t has stalled progress on Cuban internet service for fear of the political and social ramifications of improving communications with the rest of the world. Simply put: the regime does not want the Cuban people to communicate freely with each other or with the outside world.

  • My wife nearly cried the first time she entered the Costco near our home. She had been in the US less than three days and was understandably overwhelmed by the stark difference between her experiences up to that point in Cuba and her new life. While she, probably more than most in Cuba, realized the differences intellectually beween our two countries, to actually see it for herself was beyond her imaginings. The Castros will spend their eternity paying for the damage they have done to Cuba and her people.

  • Alfredo : I don`t really get, how you don`t know why the access to the internet still is more than uncomplete. I think that you might have forgotten, that Cuba had no acces to fiber-glass cables because of the embargo. Lets wait whether the cable from Vebnezuela wikll change things. At the other hand, infrustructure in Cuba is not that developped yet to allow people access to the internet in there homes. A solucion could be the openening of internet cafes in all major places where low cost acces is guaranteed. Maybe ECTECSA, earning enough mioney through cell-phones, could consider this. It is a bother, having no access to the internet and if Cuba doest want to stay at the level of last century, lots of efforts will have to be made to guarantee the use of internet. A modern socialist society cannot do without it.

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