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Cuba's Internet repression equals groupthink. Cuba remains one of the world's most repressive environments for the Internet and information technologies. By José Azel.
  
27-02-2011

Cuba's Internet repression equals groupthink. Cuba remains one of the world's most repressive environments for the Internet and information technologies. By José Azel.web/folder.asp?folderID=215

Cuba’s Internet repression equals groupthink

By José Azel

Miami Herald

February 27, 2011

Cuba remains one of the world’s most repressive environments for the Internet and information technologies. The Cuban government has created a dual system with a national intranet and the global Internet. Most Cubans have access only to the national intranet which consists of an in-country e-mail system, a Cuban encyclopedia and websites that are supportive of the government.

Cuba’s only two Internet service providers are state owned and surveillance is extensive. Less than 2 percent of the population (mostly government officials) has access to the Internet. Whatever connectivity is available costs about $12 per hour in a country where the average monthly salary is less than $20.

Additionally, Cuban regulations state that e-mail messages must not jeopardize national security; forbid the spreading of information that is against the “integrity” of the people; provide that all material intended for publication on the Internet must first be approved by the National Registry of Serial Publications; and prohibit service providers from granting access to individuals not approved by the government.

The extent of Cuba’s political cyber police efforts was vividly captured in a recently leaked video of a 2010 behind-closed-doors lecture to an audience mostly in military uniforms. The lecturer, a counter-intelligence cybernetic specialist, defines the Internet as a field of battle that the government must use to its advantage. He boasts of a new group created within the Interior Ministry to work against bloggers. He warns of the dangers of “classic combat networks” such as Facebook and Twitter and notes how protests in Iran and Ukraine were “created” when social networks were used to incite people to protest.

What must the Cuban leadership be thinking of the events in Tunisia, Egypt and elsewhere?

The Cuban government has been remarkably successful in sealing the consciousness of the Cuban people from the outside world with a doctrine of intellectual isolationism and an all encompassing revolutionary dogma of intellectual autarky. Fidel Castro made it explicitly clear in a 1961 speech in which he famously warned intellectuals: “Within the Revolution everything, against the Revolution, nothing.”

But this intellectual autarky has also produced a classic case of what social psychologist Irving Janis called “groupthink,” a type of thought characteristic of cohesive in-groups whose members try to minimize conflict and reach consensus without critically testing, analyzing, and evaluating ideas. In a groupthink environment decision-makers ignore alternatives and tend to follow irrational programs of action.

A case in point is General Raúl Castro’s new economic program formulated, in his words, “to save Cuba from the economic abyss” and outlined in a 32-page economic platform for the upcoming Communist Party Congress.

A centerpiece of Castro’s program is the firing of up to 1.3 million government workers — about 20 percent of the workforce — and allowing them to become self-employed “outside the government sector.” In the Cuban version of Orwellian doublespeak, that stands for the unspeakable private sector.

This assumes that everyone is temperamentally suited to become an entrepreneur and to do so without access to cash, credit, raw materials, equipment, or technology. Groupthink is also evident in how those selected for dismissal will be chosen. A commission of experts will decide the optimal number of personnel required for each state entity and workers’ commissions will decide the positions to be cut.

But perhaps most illustrative of the Cuban government’s groupthink (and as Dave Barry might say, I am not making this up) is the specificity with which the Cuban “reformers” have decided to allow those being fired to solicit permits to become self employed in 178 activities such as:

Trade No. 23, the purchases and sale of used books; 29, attendants of public bathrooms (presumably for tips); 34, pruning of palm trees; 49, wrapping buttons with fabric; 61, shoe shining; 62, cleaning of spark plugs; 110, box spring repairs (not to be confused with number 116); 116, mattress repairs; 124, umbrella repairs; 125, refilling of disposable cigarette lighters; 150, tarot cards fortune telling; 156, dandy (technical definition unknown, male escort?); 158, natural fruits peeling (separate from 142, selling fruits in kiosks).

In his economic dreamland of surrealist juxtapositions, Castro and his team believe that allowing this bizarre list of self-employment activities is the way to save the communist system. This surrealistic disconnect — the product of incestuous intellectual inbreeding — flows from Cuba’s doctrine of intellectual isolationism where Cubans are unable to receive information freely and exchange ideas openly.

In Cuba, long-held Marxists-Leninist assumptions will not be swapped for another set of beliefs without a democratic leadership that, inspired and sustained by freedoms of speech, press, assembly, petition, and religion, can defeat the tyranny of groupthink.

José Azel is a senior scholar at the University of Miami Institute for Cuban and Cuban-American Studies and the author of Mañana in Cuba.

____________

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29-03-2015Liberated Cuban prisoners to Obama: No more deals like the one that freed us! By Patrick Symmes.
29-03-2015The Stuff Being Swept under the Carpet of Socialist Venezuela. By VenEconomy. LAHT. 
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26-03-2015Cuba's Continuous Support for Terrorism. By Jaime Suchlicki. [This article has 1 Comment].
25-03-2015Crying Out for Wisdom in Venezuela. By VenEconomy. LAHT. 
25-03-2015They Donate Blood for Bread with Ham. By Pablo Gonzalez. Cubanet.
24-03-2015Who is behind the mirror? By Luz Escobar. 14ymedio. 
23-03-2015Cuba: Being Educated So As Not To Be Free. By Veronica Vega. HT. 
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23-03-2015How Obama outmaneuvered hardliners and cut a Cuba deal. By Warren Strobel, Matt Spetalnick and David Adams.
23-03-2015Activists Warn Cuba's Human Rights Wane as US Ties Improve. PanAm Post.
22-03-2015Internet in Cuba, I'll believe it when I see it. By Jeovany Jimenez Vega.  
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20-03-2015 Cautionary tale from Canadian businessman imprisoned in Cuba. By Jeff Gray.
20-03-2015Yes, Venezuela is a Security Threat. By Carlos Alberto Montaner. MH. 
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19-03-2015Raúl Castro Plays Both Sides. By Miriam Celaya.
18-03-2015No Embargo, No Cry. By Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo.
17-03-2015Maduro's New Enabling Law is the True 'Frankenstein's Monster'. By VenEconomy. LAHT.
15-03-2015Venezuela may spoil Obama-Castro fiesta. By Andres Oppenheimer. 
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13-03-2015Its Early, But Obamas Venezuela-Cuba Gambit Might Just Work. IBD Editorial.
12-03-2015For Obama Administration, Castro is Part of the Solution, Not the Problem. By Rudy Mayor.
11-03-2015Take care of politics! By Pedro Campos. 14ymedio.
10-03-2015My message to Mr Conan O'Brien. By Alberto Gutiérrez Barbero.
10-03-2015Queens for a Night. By Rosa López. 14ymedio.
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07-03-2015Efe Denies Reporting on a "Self-Coup" by Venezuela's Maduro. LAHT/EFE.
07-03-2015Cuba and the Scars of Fidelismo. By Veronica Vega. HT.
06-03-2015The Legacy of the 'Eternal Commander' Hugo Chávez. By VenEconomy. LAHT.
06-03-2015Manual for Trading with Cuban Businesses. By Juan Juan Almeida.
06-03-2015Conan O'Brien overlooks dark side of Cuba. By Humberto Fontova. MH.
05-03-2015Cuba's Continuous Support for Terrorism. By Dr Jaime Suchlicki.
04-03-2015CENSORSHIP WITHOUT CENSORING. By Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo.
04-03-2015Obama is Clearly Out-of-Touch With Cuba's Reality. Capitol Hill Cubans.
03-03-2015Involve the Cubans in the EU-Cuba-negotiation. By Antonio Rodiles and Erik Jennische.
02-03-2015Musings of a Blind Man (3). By Ángels Santiesteban from prison in Havana.
01-03-2015The Cuba Deal: How Raúl Castro Duped Obama. By Néstor T. Carbonell.
28-02-2015New Electoral Law: New Wine in Old Wineskins? By Miriam Celaya.
26-02-2015Venezuela Breaks Down in Tears. By VenEconomy. LAHT.
26-02-2015Are There Reasons to be Hopeful in Cuba? By Veronica Vega. HT.
25-02-2015Six Issues the U.S. Should Not Concede to Cuba During Normalization Talks. By Ana Quintana.
24-02-2015Venezuela and Cuba: Partners in repression. Washington Post Editorial.
23-02-2015Will 'Emperor' Maduro get New Clothes after All?  By VenEconomy. LAHT.
22-02-2015Courting the Castros. Washington Post editorial.





GUILLERMO MILAN REYES. EDITOR Y REDACTOR DE ESTA PÁGINA WEB: "CUBA DEMOCRACIA Y VIDA. ORG"
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