HT Editor’s Recent Trip to Cuba

Plus Year End Greetings from HT

By Circles Robinson, editor

The photo used by HT in Facebook.

HAVANA TIMES — Our publication is now in its fifth year, and every six months I try to go to Havana to meet with the writers, see friends and take in some of the cultural calendar.

In December, HT held its meeting with over 20 contributing writers and photographers in attendance. With everyone bringing something to eat or drink, we always have a light lunch first and then get down to discussing the publication.

One of the main topics this time was fantasizing the possibilities of what we could do when Internet arrives in Cuba for the general population.

Our goal is to operate more as a collective for decision-making; divide up responsibilities for different sections of the site; and institute writer participation in the comments on the different posts as well as on the social networks.

The current Internet situation in Cuba is actually worse for our writers and readers now than it was a couple of years ago. Some of the workplaces that do have access, albeit excruciatingly slow, either block HT on their servers or let their employees know that they’d be wise not to visit it.

E-mail, the main way our articles are distributed, is still difficult for many Cubans. About half of our contributing writers do not even have their own account and must receive correspondence and send their work from someone else’s account. Many still do not have their own computer, which also makes writing difficult.

Winter in Havana photo by Caridad.

However despite the limitations, which are a fact of daily life for most Cubans, people continue writing with enthusiasm and contributing to our publication and would be in a position to do so more often if the operating environment were better.

Personally I believe the Internet will arrive when there is a political will for that to happen, something that has clearly not been the case to date. It could happen tomorrow or in five or ten years, but the cost of isolation is growing fast.

I say this because the Cuban government has proven in the past that when it wants to invest in an important field it can do it with or without the US embargo that tries to hinder any advances in the country’s economy.

In the fields of bio-technology and medicine, Cuba has made major investments and recorded major achievements and advances that are recognized worldwide and in the markets, as well as in its cultural industry. If the leadership made it a priority to get the population out of the dark ages in terms of information technology, led by the Internet, I believe they could surely do so.

Many people thought that Internet access was going to improve to some extent, either directly or indirectly, if the fiber optic cable laid from Venezuela to Cuba nearly two years ago actually went into use domestically, even if only at workplaces and educational institutions.

However, from what people know second hand, corrupt officials effectively sabotaged the effort. For some reason, the details of what happened have never been made public, similar to other major scandals uncovered by the Comptroller’s office but hushed up in the official Cuban media.

As editor of the publication, I restated our policy of being a site that, in addition to our news and photo feature coverage, attempts to reflect the diversity of opinions held by Cubans about their country on a wide range of issues and topics.

I reaffirmed that HT is not a political party, opposition group or movement. Instead, we are an online publication where all positions except highly disrespectful, sexist, racist or homophobic comments are welcome as we try to facilitate a healthy debate on the different issues facing the country.

In concluding I want to wish all of our readers a very Happy New Year for 2013.

14 thoughts on “HT Editor’s Recent Trip to Cuba

  • If you really were anything nearly ‘pro-Cuba’, the LAST thing you’d do is justify the blockade as you do here.

  • Right, you’ve now assimilated the actual point I made, that Mr Robinson was wrong to claim that HT is not oppositionist, as far as you are able within your dogmatic right wing conceptual apparatus. The rest of your half-baked liberalism I won’t bother with. My work here is done.

  • Richard,

    There has never been a Marxist state which allows freedom of speech, including Castro’s Cuba. Furthermore, I have never met a Marxist who supports freedom of speech either. Your observation that the content of HT is often critical of the Cuban government is correct, but you cannot conceive of that criticism as being pro-Cuba, which it is.

    If the content at HT tends to a criticize the Castro regime, perhaps that is because there is much to condemn in the dictatorship. If one wishes to read only pro-Castro propaganda, there are places to find that, places which safely exclude all contrary points of view.

  • congratulations Circles.. well done. I read deligenty this on line journal and share as I can.

  • My wife is Cuban, my children half-Cuban. I am hardly anti-CUBAN. I am anti-dictator, anti-totalitarian, anti-repression, anti-repudiation ralliy, anti-express detention, and therefore anti-CASTRO. There is a difference.

  • I recognise that there is a real difference between a contributor and a commenter in many on-line publications, but it’s not a significant one in this case, where all involved are amateurs rather than those contributing “above the line” being professional writers or journalists. And especially since Moses sprays his US regime talking points at such a high proportion of the articles.

    As for your contemptibly crude attempt to put words into my mouth so you could accuse me of opposing free speech, it is typically infantile and requires no further attention.

    The point I’m actually making, i.e. that Mr Robinson is wrong to claim that Havana Times is not oppositionist, is basic. The first point of rational understanding is that the world is as it is, not as we wish it were. That point is often forgotten when it conflicts with people’s emotional attachments, as in this case where Mr Robinson’s subjective leftism and his willingness to publish other opinions lead him to believe that the Havana Times site is simply an open forum with no political line.

    But contrary to Mr Robinson’s wishful thinking, the reality of the Havana Times’s political alignment is to be found not in the thoughts and intentions in the mind of the owner but rather in the actual corpus of texts constituting the content of the site.

    Despite a certain diversity, analysis of those texts shows that the site has a basic line of petty-bourgeois pseudo-left and liberal oppositionism. That’s when it’s not tailing after the US regime’s anti-socialist political employees in Cuba, not unnaturally in view of the HT crowd’s lack of a coherent strategy or a concrete political vision (advantages which the US-controlled dissidents receive along with their imperial funding).

  • Richard, surely you understand the difference between a contributor, one who writes columns, and a commenter who offers his opinions in the comment section. That said, the comments sections are open to anybody who cares to write something, which includes plenty of supporters of the Castro regime.

    So perhaps that is what you object to: free speech. It is instructive that those who support the Castros are the same people who complain about free speech.

  • “I reaffirmed that HT is not a political party, opposition group or movement.”

    Reaffirming your false claim doesn’t make it true, Mr Robinson. At best it makes you deluded.

    Unfortunately, your biggest achievement to date has been to provide a platform for the anti-Cuban hate of your most active contributor, the US regime mouthpiece Moses.

  • “…the Internet will arrive when there is a political will for that to happen, something that has clearly not been the case to date.”

    That’s a given. Nothing happens in Cuba without the government approval. Or put another way, nothing is happening because that’s what the government wants.

    “It could happen tomorrow or in five or ten years, but the cost of isolation is growing fast.”

    With growing economic and demographic pressures, they may not have that much time left anyway.

    “…the Cuban government has proven in the past that when it wants to invest in an important field it can do it with or without the US embargo that tries to hinder any advances in the country’s economy.”

    Cuba can buy all the internet equipment they want from China. The lack of internet in Cuba is not the result of he embargo. Rather, the embargo and the lack of internet have the same root cause: the lack of freedom in Cuba.

  • Thanks, Circles, for this warm and informative article. And thanks from the bottom of my heart for HT and for all your labor and exemplary editorship.

    May the difficulties that have been placed on HT by the US government, with regard to paying subscriptions from readers in the US and other countries, be overcome in the new year.

    May the lack of appreciation for HT by the Cuban transformationary party and government be lessened and ultimately eliminated.

    Best wishes in the New Year to all those acting for peace, justice and sustainable prosperity around the world.

  • Im beginning to think Circles has come around (excuse the pun) and is highlighting some of the major censorship issues by the Castro “government”!!

  • Havana Times offers an invaluable service to those wishing to learn more about Cuba. I appreciate the range of opinions and styles of stories you run. I also enjoy the photo essays, which show the flavour of Cuban society.

    Congratulations and best wishes for the New Year!

  • Well done. Best wishes for the New Year.

  • Very well Circles, in April I will be in Havana, if you need something please let me know!

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