By Circles Robinson
HAVANA, Dec. 17.- Somehow our two-month-old Havana Times website from and about Cuba is causing lost sleep for a Massachusetts businessman who claims to be the world’s leading expert on Cuba.
Marketeer Rob Sequin wrote, “When the 100% Communist Cuban propaganda rag Granma endorses a new Cuban news and information website with a title like ‘New website in English presents reality of Cuba,’ I find it offensive. This is not the first time I have been offended by the new Havana Times website, which I am here today to expose as a pure propaganda tool of the Cuban government.”
Sequin appears fixated on convincing the world that HT is unworthy of reading, unlike his many business websites like Havana.biz, which bills itself as “Preparing for opportunities in a post-Castro, post-Embargo Cuba.”
He’s not alone; there are several other US “entrepreneurs” who have been selling futures on bits and pieces of the island.
Guys like Sequin have a win-win situation. Their attacks on the Cuban government often allow them to tap into US congressional funds allocated to try and bring it down. This has been going on for decades and is part of the Congressional Record.
One of Mr. Sequin’s many scams is to purchase every Internet domain he can think of and to try and turn a big profit if the Revolution cries uncle, enabling guys like him to move in for the kill.
“We own over 2,400 Cuba related domains that complement our network and are scheduled for development, used for marketing purposes or are for sale or lease,” says Sequin. He goes on to claim to “own the biggest private Cuba-related website in the world.”
With that information, you’d think Seguin would have plenty to do managing all of his many businesses. Nonetheless, he still finds time to slander HT as well. He tries to do the site harm, but I’d like to thank him for getting us new readers. We have received numerous referrals from his ranting, as people with that good old curiosity try to find out if we could be as bad as Rob says.
Sequin says he lives in Cape Cod and “is not Hispanic and has no family ties to Cuba,” as if that were either is something bad or discredits ones’ opinions about issues related to the island.
I have lived in Havana for the last seven years, have a normal translating job, and edit and write for HT in my free time. Maybe I’m a little naïve, but since I haven’t asked anybody else for permission to run the site, I don’t think I need Rob’s approval either?
Lastly, Sequin (who also administers www.havanajournal.com) uses as burning proof of my being “a senior Cuban government agent” the fact that several of my commentaries on Cuba and US-Cuba relations have been published in the Cuban online media, and that Havana Times was able to present itself in Cuba-where it is happy to be based. I hope to give him more hard evidence in the future as I try to get published locally as well as write for a foreign audience.
I feel honored that Sequin says he’s “offended” by the existence of Havana Times. I guess the monopoly he pretends to corner on Cuba has no room for little non-profit upstarts like us!