Yenisel Rodríguez Perez
HAVANA TIMES – It seems as though decisive steps to make Internet services widely available in Cuba will finally be taken. Much pressure has built up in connection with this issue as a result of the heated disputes that are probably taking place between different interests groups on the island.
Who could doubt that cyberspace is the political arena where the country’s sociopolitical and economic fate is to be defined?
Speaking of a Cuban civil society within this context, to then ascribe it a leading role in this struggle, is entirely naive. “Civil society” continues to be a euphemism in Cuba.
Using the concept of civil society to refer to the pressure exerted on the government by people is placing barely effective initiatives undertaken by individuals or small groups (all of them minorities that are invisible at street level) under a single category.
These political initiatives, though defined in their political aims, have a very limited sociopolitical impact owing to the atomization of our society and its highly depoliticized nature.
It would therefore be more precise to speak of different interest groups linked to power centers (and I don’t know whether I’m still being too optimistic with this description).
Ultimately, it is unquestionable that the steps being taken towards making Internet services more accessible reflects the consolidation of neo-liberal and pro-Right tendencies in Cuba’s political panorama.
We could think of a map that situates the government’s passive and leading opponents. We first come across those who wish for total and unrestricted Internet access in order to facilitate the complete overthrow of the Castro regime, following the logic of the Arab Spring.
On the other extreme we have those who oppose all changes and are interested in preserving the status quo on the basis of misinformation and the centralization of global information flows, represented by the governmental gerontocracy and their lackeys.
Last but not least, we have the reformists, interested in more or less far-reaching and organized reforms in the area of Internet access, who aspire to efficient and “democratic” government control, inspired by a center-right type of capitalism that seems unfeasible in a world as crisis-ridden as ours.
I wonder about the revolutionary Left, about Cuban anarchism. Has any path been traced by resistance and recycling, through which we hope to be able to channel all of our strength, in the interests of a future with greater access to the world-wide web? Will we be able to take advantage of the loopholes left unguarded by the powerful in their political maneuvers and their strategy of everyone-for-himself?
As an individual, I have been adjusting my personal expectations in connection with all of this. I know that the Internet is not a magic lamp that comes to fulfill our wishes, much less if our wishes are of a political nature.
Technology can point towards the distant horizon, but it is ultimately mired in daily social relations (relations we could ironically refer to as “analogic”).
What we are unable to overcome through social praxis, face-to-face among individuals or before the social institutions around us, no Facebook, Twitter or Saint Google is going to grant us.
I have come across very little reflection and political awareness on the Internet. Rather, I’ve run into the same realities that one can see from my window, in the dirty and poetic neighborhood where I live: plenty of gossip and a whole lot of profanity.
Let us improve our aim!