Isbel Diaz Torres
HAVANA TIMES – The Cuban State has more than enough qualified personnel, trained at the country’s well-stocked technical and military academies and the University of Information Sciences (UCI), to develop a project as wide-encompassing and complex as the “weekly package.”
Someone could of course ask: why go to so much trouble? If the Cuban government is able to remain in power, among other methods, by maintaining the people uninformed, it would seem contradictory to create a system that takes information to people.
The package, however, could well be the latest government strategy to deny Cubans access to the Internet. Just look at how this process has developed:
- Do you need an anti-virus. You have the Cuban company Segurmatica.
- Do you want a digital encyclpedia like Wikipedia? You have Ecured.
- Do you want an email service? You have Nauta, offered by Cuban servers.
- Do you want to access social networks? You have La Tendedera, available on intranet at Cuba’s computer clubs.
- Do you want an operating system? You have Nova, a Cuban GNU/Linux product.
- Do you want to have your own, personal blog? You have Reflejos or Bloguea, offered by national servers.
- Do you need a search engine? You have 2×3 (a platform that no one knows whether it’s ever worked or not) or Orion (developed at the UCI), used to conduct searches in Cuban servers.
But that is not the bulk of people’s needs.
- Do you want to watch cheap soaps, listen to the latest reggaeton number, take in some reality shows, good and bad films or Discovery Channel documentaries, read gossip magazines and see anything that runs contrary to Cuba’s cultural policy? Then you have the “package.”
What we won’t have is access to the Internet to be able to look for what we want, when we need to and without any ideological filters – the ability to organize ourselves and know, first hand, about civil disobedience in other parts of the world and other parts of Cuba, to do research and establish personal links with other citizens, to push forward the new type of journalism that critics speak of.
To the optimists who want to see steps towards technological sovereignty in the items listed above, I will say only that, in practice, nearly none of those platforms (particularly those aimed at interpersonal communication) actually work, and those that do abide by “security” regulations that undermine user rights or are simply out of the financial reach of most Cubans.
In my view, these have been created to produce the semblance of a society “in step with the times”, capable of inserting itself, without any critical resistance, in the new world order – and there is nothing better for this than a technology that has been deprived of the few liberating elements we could develop within it.
To be sure, the strategy aimed at “computerizing Cuban society” was designed many years ago and consists in this: to pass all contents through the filters of the governing bureaucracy and make only a sterile and stagnant world of information available to the population.
The technicians and ideologues behind this project have presented it at different academic gatherings, where we are told about the Portal del Ciudadano (“The Citizen’s Portal”) and about how all information will be provided us by a powerful and self-sufficient intranet.
An editorial published by Granma on December 12 is quite revealing in this connection. The article refers to the implementation of the national information platform known as Red Cuba, “designed to ensure, in a sovereign fashion, the presence of contents produced in the country and representative of its culture, characterized by quality and diversity, managed and administered by Cuban entities, with a view to satisfying the information needs of the public and offering needed services, as well as guaranteeing access to international networks.”
The 154 Internet locales scattered across the country and the “broader possibilities to connect to the Internet in different locations, to include public libraries and post offices,” as well as platforms for university and institutional networks that “could eventually offer their services to society as a whole,” are offered as examples of this nationwide network.
These experts have never spoken about the package, of course. When they are asked about it, they claim not to know where it comes from. Curiously enough, those who participate in its distribution say the same thing.
We should follow the money trail and not pay too much attention to the sad analysts employed by the Ministry of Culture, who simply don’t know what to say in light of so much political schizophrenia.
It’s a question of keeping the “masses” entertained, docile, isolated from true consumption, in other words, the well-known social control strategy used by States to guarantee governability and that Cuba is setting in motion at a time when less and less can be justified on the basis of Cuba-US conflicts.
I don’t have any proof of this, only the package. Which is why, to be more precise, rather than a thesis, this is more of a hypothesis. But does that make it less true?
Read my two posts, analyze them, and I think you won’t find it hard to discover what the true aim of the package is, even after it has made it to the street, has been restructured and enriched with other contents by distributors to make it look like an exercise in social autonomy.