Cuba and the Killer of Dreams

Fernando Ravsberg*

Some 40,000 young Cuba received text messages, written abroad, intended to create a network that would ultimately promote anti-government protests

HAVANA TIMES — An investigation by the Associated Press has revealed that Washington created a Cuban Twitter called “Zunzuneo” to destabilize the island’s government. They intended for the text messages to spark off a “tropical spring.”

Days later the Cuban government announced that a similar program, “Piramideo”, is in full operation with the same goals. It appears that the White House insists on trying to influence Cubans to provoke a rebellion.

Actually this is nothing new; this is the digital version of TV Marti and it’s having similar results: millions of US taxpayer dollars spent to exert negligible influence within Cuba, reaching only 40,000 people.

The slow opening in Cuba will not be stopped by the covert programs in Washington, said officials of the Ministry of Communications.

Washington’s laments about Cubans’ lack of Internet access would have much more resonance if we didn’t know that two years ago a $2 million fine was levied against the Ericsson Corp. for selling mobile network equipment to Cuba.

Senator Patrick Leahy said that it is the economic embargo which prevents US companies from providing Internet service legally in Cuba, which would have better results than USAID’s efforts, and without putting Cubans at risk.

Seeking a Cuban Spring

White House spokesman, Jay Carney, swears it’s only “a development program” of USAID, which he says “is not an intelligence agency.” He denied that the program is secret but paradoxically declined to give technical details of the project.

Even today a covert US program, called Piramideo, is in operation. It promotes youth networks in Cuba through bulk SMS.

However, the Associated Press revealed an official USAID document clearly directing that “there should be absolutely no mention of the involvement of the US government.”

It isn’t secret but they hide the details; it is legal but they hide the role of Washington. It only serves to help Cubans talk to each other, but the messages are processed abroad. It seems they are throwing stones and then hiding their hand.

This time even the [usually anti-Cuban government] El Pais newspaper of Spain acknowledges that the network “was secretly conceived and financed by the US government in order to cause a change on the island through the texting of political content that would inspire a “Cuban Spring.”

The newspaper says that the USAID operation was performed “through front companies with bank accounts in the Cayman Islands and computer servers in three countries” and almost mockingly adds that “Washington denies that it was a covert operation.”

The Trojan Horse rides in Cuba

The USA takes advantage of Cuba’s limited internet access. Even today no home Internet service is available and the Internet cafes have a total of some 300 computers nationwide for a population over 11 million.

A few days ago Israel Rojas, of the popular duo Buena Fe, was virtually burned at the international stake for saying that Internet could become Cuba’s “Trojan Horse”. Who would have thought that it would be a US news agency [Associated Press] that would prove him right.

Israel did say that despite the risks, “we want a fully computerized Cuba. A country in progress. A nation where the new technologies not only accepted but also become tools for development.”

He agrees with officials of the Ministry of Communications who confirm that an opening to the access to the Internet will continue to expand regardless. It is the wiser choice, because closing the small window will only contribute to isolating Cuba and frustrate its youth.

The bombs that exploded in hotels in 1997, causing one death and several injuries, reached the island in the suitcases of “innocent” tourists and and no one thought to ban international tourism as a means of preventing further attacks.

The main target of these covert operations are young Cubans.

The path forward is to provide infinite point of access and to lower prices, making it possible to go in and out of cyberspace on our own networks, and thus avoiding the minefields so graciously offered by Washington.

The country’s resources should be utilized: thousands of IT specialist, hundreds of cybercafes and several educational TV channels capable of teaching people all about browsing. There is nothing to fear; Cubans are smart and educated.

But the challenge is also practical, the general population, and especially young people, will not learn to navigate cyberspace if they are not allowed the freedom to browse, exercising their capacity to discern between good and evil, right and wrong, the truth and lies.

No one should ignore Cuba’s unique situation in cyberspace, where thousands of “USAID” ships are ready to attack. But even then the worst answer is fear because nothing kills dreams more than fear.

No one can ignore the particular Cuba’s unique situation that Cuba has in cyberspace, where thousands of ships “USAID” ships are ready to attack. But even then the worst answer is fear because nothing kills dreams more than fear.
(*) Visit Fernando Ravsberg’s blog.

16 thoughts on “Cuba and the Killer of Dreams

  • What? No Facebook, Twitter or Internet access for Cuban teenagers? Now that is one sad country…

  • Myanmar existed as a military dictatorship with a huge drug production and massive suppression of democracy for over twenty years and the U.S. did squat to change things.
    Myanmar was a problem for its own people and not for U.S. hegemonic aims in southeast Asia .
    Had Myanmar gone “COMMUNIST” in 1988 , the U.S. would certainly have intervened militarily.
    The U.S. was as effective in bringing democracy to Myanmar as it was in bringing it to South Africa.
    The United States is not particularly interested in democracy because capitalism and the U.S. oligarchy DEPEND on undemocratic societies to exist .
    There are some 54 examples of the U.S .intervening to destroy democracies in William Blum’s ” Killing Hope” ( book and website) .
    So far Myanmar is the sole example that has been presented of the U.S. making attempts at democratizing any country in its history and I contend I have made my point and won the game at 54-1 without even having to go pre-1945.

  • You have GOT to be joking.
    The U.S. is the BIGGEST threat to both peace and democracy on the planet .
    Google: Uncle Sam Top Menace To Peace On Earth : Paul Street
    The article details a recent poll of over 68,000 people in a great many countries, including many close allies of the U.S. who by a wide margin voted the U.S. the biggest threat to peace on Earth.
    The U.S. corporate media in the U.S. that YOU get your misinformation from ,never printed, aired or televised a single-word about that poll .
    I seriously doubt you can bring yourself to read it.
    Anyone who believes that the U.S is up to doing good in the world is just delusional and willfully ignorant of history.

    Try reading Street’s article if just to see what the world thinks of the United States and why.

  • The political relationship between the United States and Burma worsened after the 1988 military coup and violent suppression of pro-democracy demonstrations. Subsequent repression, including the crackdown on peaceful protestors in September 2007, further strained the relationship. Massachusetts attempted to sanction Burma directly in 1996 but those efforts proved unconstitutional. Later, the United States federal government imposed broad sanctions against Burma under several different legislative and policy vehicles.
    The Burma Freedom and Democracy Act (BFDA), passed by Congress and signed by the President in 2003, included a ban on all imports from Burma, a ban on the export of financial services to Burma, a freeze on the assets of certain Burmese financial institutions, and extended visa restrictions on Burmese officials. Congress has renewed the BFDA annually, most recently in July 2010.[4]

  • In 2009 the Obama administration loosened restrictions on U.S. telecom providers, allowing them to do some business in Cuba. But this did not ignite an explosion of connectivity. The reason may be some U.S. confusion about restrictions on operating in Cuba, or perhaps U.S. companies just don’t see Cuba as a lucrative market.

    It’s also clear that the Cuban government is deeply wary of the Internet. Havana maintains tight control over the media and does not tolerate political dissent.

  • “a $2 million fine was levied against the Ericsson Corp. for selling
    mobile network equipment to Cuba.” We were told the US only wanted to promote connectivity and free speech in Cuba. How are the US apologists going to explain this one away.

  • Like the stock market, much of the time it is not facts that drive events, it is
    impulse developing momentum and driving events ( e.g. “momentum” stocks.) Among the phenomena that shape impulses are hopes and fears. There is nothing new about the current USAID issue. USAID has been trying to derail Cuba for a very long time and has used millions upon millions of US dollars and various strategies, including those mentioned in the article. Many strategies have been used including funding several Jesuit Universities to do “research” on the issue of Cuban property rights and the distribution of property in a post Castro era. Georgetown, Creighton, Loyola are among the Jesuit institutions that have received considerable sums from USAID. ( An aside to note here is that in the United States, Jesuit schools are not the property of the Vatican, they belong
    in-trust to the Trustees who control each institution. Thus, one need not look further for the basis of relationships between said institutions and USAID. ) The commendable article above could include another point. The pot of gold in this “market” is the Florida vote and the coming elections. The impulse is to garner Florida’s vote. By dealing with Zunzuneao / Twitter the way it has, the current administration in Washington has managed to toss a bone to those who favor better relations with Cuba and another bone to those who are loathe to do so. On the one hand the public sees a governmental entity (USAID ) advocating government disruption in Cuba. On the other hand, the public sees an administration condemning the interference. Obliquely, the administration is having its cake and eating it too. The cloud over the drama is that John Kerry recently forbid USAID to be involved in anti Cuba actions: a bad situation for the administration as far as those of us who remember Kerry’s pronouncement are concerned. But who remembers? Perhaps those who would like honesty and directness from our government? To stray a bit from the topic at hand: it is no secret the vast majority of Americans desire a more open relationship with Cuba and would like to travel there. I am reminded of a talk given by a Cuba travel advocate. He asked “ what kind of ‘friend’ would ask the American people to give up their right to travel?”

  • The US supports internet freedom projects in 27 countries around the world, not just in Cuba. State Department’s 2013 Advancing Freedom and Democracy Report, which specifically states:

    “In closed societies, U.S.-supported broadcast programming provides citizens with alternative sources of news. We support open, public, and safe Internet access and training programs that increase citizen access to information*, including through U.S.-funded resource centers**. The Department’s internet freedom programs promote digital free expression, assembly, and association, helping those in closed societies connect personally and globally.”

    The countries where the U.S supports and funds such Internet freedom programs, namely:

    *Armenia; Azerbaijan; Brunei Darussalam; Cambodia, China; Cuba; Ecuador; Egypt; Eritrea; Georgia; Guinea Bissau; Iran; Kuwait; Kyrgyz Republic; Madagascar; Malaysia; Nigeria; Russia, Rwanda; Singapore; Syria, Timor Leste; Tunisia; Turkmenistan; Ukraine; Vietnam

    **Afghanistan; Albania; Algeria; Angola; Armenia; Azerbaijan; Bahrain; Bangladesh; Belarus; Bolivia; Bosnia and Herzegovina; Burkina Faso; Burma; Cambodia; Cameroon; China; Congo; Cuba; DRC; Cote d’Ivoire; Ecuador; Egypt; Eritrea; Ethiopia; Guatemala; Georgia; Guinea; Haiti; Honduras; Jordan; Kazakhstan; Kenya; Kosovo; Kuwait; Kyrgyz Republic; Liberia; Laos; Macedonia; Madagascar; Malawi; Moldova; Morocco; Mozambique; Nepal; Nicaragua; Niger; Nigeria; Oman; Pakistan; Paraguay; Philippines; Russia; Rwanda; Saudi Arabia; Senegal; Sierra Leone; Sri Lanka; Sudan; Swaziland; Syria; Tajikistan; Tanzania; Thailand; Togo; Tunisia; Turkey; Turkmenistan; Uganda; Ukraine; United Arab Emirates; Uzbekistan; Venezuela; Vietnam; Yemen; Zambia; Zimbabwe.

  • That’s my grandfather-in-law. He is changing too, by the way.

  • Untrue.
    Sources that will corroborate this absurd claim ?
    I will not go away and you can rely upon me to make factual replies to your always fantastic -meaning they are fantasies- posts.
    You didn’t answer the second question which is : what right does the U.S. have to tell ANY country what form of government it will have regardless of what the native populations want ?

  • Wait a minute Moses. You say that your father in law thinks that the Cuban ” regime” is tyrannical ? When did that change ? I distinctly recall one of your earlier posts, I think it was #486, wherein you used him as an example to dismiss all Castro supporters of a certain age. You lamented the fact that he was still patria o muerte despite having to get his blood pressure medicine from you. You ought to pay more attention to your script.

  • US Senator Menendez, Secretary of State Kerry, President Obama, my father-in-law in Guantanamo, and so on. Widely shared….

  • Myanmar (Burma). Go away.

  • Widely shared by you Moses. I doubt you have more than one string on that guitar:) What would you do if you couldn’t harangue us via Havana Times? I suppose there is always TV Marti…

  • Hi Moses,
    Long time no chat.
    You seem to be ignoring me because I am repeatedly asking you the names of any of the scores of countries into which the U.S.A. has intervened in order to establish democratic forms of any kind.
    This because you keep claiming that is the aim of the “U.S. War On The People If Cuba Including Your Relatives” .
    Well guess what ?
    I’m asking you again because both I and you know that your claim is bullshit.
    You can go to the “Killing Hope” website and review some 50 of those interventions . There has to be at least one intervention listed there committed to establishing a democratic government .
    It is axiomatic that they never tried to establish a democratic economy anywhere on the planet at any time in the nation’s 250 or so year history.
    By what stretch of the imagination and all historical facts can you claim that the U.S. is at all interested in democracy ?

    And again what moral right does the criminally-imperial U.S. have to dictate to ANY country what form of government or society it will have ?
    You can supply the names of the countries in which the U.S. tried to establish democracy or admit it is never a part of any U.S. foreign policy.
    You can run but you can’t hide.

  • Here is a perspective widely shared. Cuba is led by a tyrannical regime. By any peaceful means necessary, the US should continue to make every effort at regime change. In addition to the embargo, government-funded programs whose ultimate goal is to bring democracy to Cuba should be applauded and encouraged. Arguments regarding Cuban sovereignty pale against the possibility of free speech, free elections, free press and an end to the Castro era. To be clear, the goal is not to annex Cuba. It is not to create a democracy in Cuba that is the mirror-image of what we continue to build here in the US. The goal is to give Cubans, for the first time in more than 60 years, the opportunity to choose for themselves, the kind of political and economic system of their liking through open and transparent democratic elections. To this end, projects like Zunzuneo should continue where possible.

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