Criminalization of the Internet in Cuba

Yenisel Rodriguez

Foto: Caridad

The Cuban state and government have deployed a mass media campaign to politically criminalize the Internet. The argument is that it is part of one of the strategies for political intervention by the United States into Cuban affairs.

Once again the logical fallacy is being applied, according to which there exist only two political positions in the country: leftist anti-imperialism of the socialist brand (though actually statist nationalism) and the extreme right position that favors annexation by the US.

Based on the ideology of the false dilemma, they’ve constructed a performance in counterpoint between the well-known dissident blogger Yoani Sanchez and a blogger defending the regime (an angelical nationalist blond). According to the line of the media campaign, these two sides represent the political positions of Cuban cyberspace. The “good guy,” of course, they define as the angelical blogger upholding the regime.

Nevertheless, we know that the Cuban political situation is much more diverse and complex than that presented by this false dilemma. For example, there exist online spaces such as Havana Times, where the diversity of opinions goes beyond ravenous annexationism and cheap nationalism.

HT is a vehicle, in my very personal opinion, of a common interest for generating democratic consensuses on the principal problems that affect our country. Free of the doctrinal complicities of the Cuban regime and with no ties to financial contracts of the empires to the north, its bloggers hold diverse political opinions when it comes time to formulate and publish their ideas.

I personally know social democrats, anarchists and communists of the old guard (to borrow from the old phraseology) to only mention three classic molds. Nevertheless, I don’t fail to recognize that political positions exist that are not included in the debates presented by Havana Times.

Therefore, how can one define from the ideology of the false dilemma the diverse lines of Havana Times? This is an indispensable question around which plenty of debate could be generated.

In any case, the new government offensive against debate in cyberspace, that some of us Cubans have access to, is worrisome. It is an orthodox assault by the regime that is taking advantage of the difficult international situation to settle some of its old accounts before an international opinion dizzied in the face of war.

In the present political conjuncture we need the unity of all of us Cuban bloggers who don’t accept the reductionist duality promoted today under the ideological fallacy of the false dilemma. Prior to any authoritarian assault against the new socio-virtual networks, we must consolidate our forums for debate.

4 thoughts on “Criminalization of the Internet in Cuba

  • Havana Times, as you indicate, Yenisel, is just the best. HT and Circles Robinson are making a significant contribution to Cuban and world history.

  • Yenisel one gets the false impression from this fragment

    “For example, there exist online spaces such as Havana Times, where the diversity of opinions goes beyond ravenous annexationism and cheap nationalism.”

    that you think that Yoani proposes annexationism since you mentioned about the two poles of internet discurse Yoani Sanchez and Elaine Diaz (I presume you are referring to her by angelical blond). You probably did not mean to say that but others reading this will get that impression.
    Yoani Sanchez is very far from proposing annexation. The best way to know what she says is to read her. It is very good reading and already translated to english.

    Otherwise, I believe your analysis here is right on the point. The political elite is trying to gain control of the internet and asphyxiate any of the free speech coming out of Cuba. To yet again give the falce impression of union and total support for them that has never existed.
    Any time any one tries to polarize a situation claiming there is only this point or view and this other they are usually mistaken just like you rightly claim they are using false dilemma logical fallacy.

    You all never mind of the political orientation that each of you individually have should unite and fight for this remanent of freedom that still exist for you all. Their reaction towards the internet is because they have realized what a potent mechanism it is for people of like thinking to unite and to fight injustices as has happen already in Africa. They are very much afraid of loosing the power they have.
    Totalitarianism is the enemy of Freedom. When any one expresses what they really feel and does not simulate then they have lost. That is why they fear internet so much.

  • Thank you Havana Times for this article and allowing many of us cubans from inside and outside the island to put the truth forward in our comments and articles. I think we should ALL be heard! Gracias!

  • Yenisel, I think I cringed when I saw that “Las Razones” was taking on the internet. The whole series has been used to take one well constructed case and then apply it across a broad swath of cultural terrain. For example, painting all NGO’s as antirevolutionary because there are some instances of the US Spec. Inter. Sec. using NGO’s for their work. Or as you so well point out, saying the internet is dangerous and there is an ongoing “cyberwar” because of a few bloggers. It seems like without an imminent military threat to the island (think of 2003 and Bush and all of the talk from Cuba about being invaded) Cuba is starting to militarize language concerning the internet.

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