In Cuba: “You Will Learn, but not Too Much”

Alfredo Fernández

A new Cuban Internet card at US $5 an hour.

HAVANA TIMES — “You will learn, but not too much” – this was the maxim that a number of martial arts masters in ancient China stuck to, fearing that, one day, their disciples could outdo them.

It would appear that the Cuban government, whose most recent and predictably timid reform has afforded Cubans a bit more access to the Internet, is founded on precisely that idea.

How else could we explain the creation of new cybercafés, which will offer Internet services in several municipalities across the country at the “affordable” price of US $5 the hour?

Never before have we seen such clear proof that the Cuban government isn’t interested in providing its citizens with Internet access.

The same generation of revolutionaries who, on taking power, shut down all dissenting newspapers and forced citizens to break ties with relatives living in the capitalist “outside”, now shows itself incapable of making possible the free access to information available to those of whom it “asked” for so much sacrifice.

By the looks of it, this was too much to ask, and Raul continues to implement reforms as he promised he would, “slowly but surely”, showing a particularly firm commitment to the first half of the formula.

In a world with increasingly less expensive web services, where countries like the United States and Argentina envisage providing all citizens with Wi-Fi services by 2020, the opening of a few cybercafés offering limited Internet access (with many blocked pages) is a laughably insignificant step.

The Cuban State continues to act like a strict father who disciplines his children with antiquated methods, who uses medieval punishments like forcing a kid to kneel on a grater, out in the hot sun, for misbehaving.

This, at least, is what the penalty of closing down a user’s account, for accessing forbidden sites or using an e-mail account to send out anti-government information, recalls.

To top things off, the cute fellas responsible for the blog “La joven Cuba” (“Young Cuba”) called for measures that punish those who they consider are making “inappropriate” use of the Internet.  Do these young men actually know the Internet as much as they claim? If so, why do they insist on forgetting that it is as free as the wind?

I feel sorry for them and for anyone opposed to the unrestricted use of the Internet. The World Wide Web is here to stay, and, if it’s here to stay, this is precisely because of its libertarian nature and not because of any restriction that may be imposed on its use.

Whoever attempts to control, evade or ignore the Internet will only discover, after wasting their time miserably, that they have shot themselves in the foot.

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.