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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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28-08-2014The EU is engaged in a discussion that will yield no change in human rights conditions on the island. The U.S. would be wise not to follow the EUs lead. By Joel Brito.
27-08-2014A Thief Who Steals from a Thief. By Miriam Celaya.
26-08-2014Official Press: Triumphalism, Blacklisting and Censorship. By Yoani Sanchez.
24-08-2014Where is Ángel Santiesteban? A political prisoner cannot just disappear. CDV.org demands proof that he is alive and well. By Eva Belfrage.
23-08-2014Venezuelan Government Goes for More Censorship, Barbarism. By VenEconomy. LAHT.
23-08-2014Unexpected Happiness in Venezuela. By Caridad. HT.
22-08-2014Historical Lessons from Engaging Totalitarians: Tourism. Normally, travel broadens the mind but what about visiting a totalitarian state? By Notes from the Cuban Exile Quarter.
22-08-2014Cuba struggles to attract investors despite reforms. By Marc Frank.
22-08-2014Venezuela's shipments of crude oil and fuel to its allies have fallen to a five-year low as a weak economy hits its ability to uphold accords. Shipments to Cuba and Nicaragua, however have held strong. By Marianna Parraga and Brian Ellsworth.
21-08-2014VenEconomy: ... And Everything Will Remain the Same in Venezuela. LAHT.
20-08-2014Historical Lessons from Engaging Totalitarians. Business and High Technology. By Notes from the Cuban Exile Quarter.
20-08-2014The Journalist Who Tells the Truth. By Alejandro Tur Valladares.
20-08-2014It's About the Entire Venezuela Healthcare System. By VenEconomy. LAHT.
19-08-2014Amidst Rumors and disinformation, Ángel Santiesteban Continues Missing.
19-08-2014Fulton Armstrong's Confession of being the AP source. By Capitol Hill Cubans.
17-08-2014The Associated Press Calls Us 'Mercenaries'. Por Manuel Cuesta Morua.
17-08-2014A revisit to the Cuban Balsero crisis and the people who found freedom in America. By Fabiola Santiago. With Miami Herald video.
17-08-2014Chavez friends get rich after his death as Venezuela slides into chaos. By Michael Smith and Anatoly Kurmanaev.
16-08-2014Temperamental Old Coots. By Anddy Sierra Alvarez. 
16-08-2014U.S. sees surge in rafters fleeing Cuba. By Christine Armario.
15-08-2014Cleaning Havana's "Malecon" Sea Wall 8/16.
15-08-2014Hold Cuba Accountable for Illegal Arms Trafficking. By Mauricio Claver-Carone. 
14-08-2014Cuban Dissidents: We Have Nothing to Celebrate on Castro's Birthday. LAHT/EFE.
14-08-2014Venezuela's Government Does not Notice the 'Log in its Own Eye'. By VenEconomy. LAHT.
14-08-2014Investment in Cuba? What for? By Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo, translated by Alberto de la Cruz in Babalú blog.
12-08-2014"A few years ago I met a foreign correspondent based in Cuba who related an absurd and revealing anecdote..." By Yoani Sanchez.
12-08-2014AP in Cuba: When misreporting news becomes the news. Associated Press in Cuba crossed the line on journalistic standards. By Notes from the Cuban Exile Quarter.
11-08-2014What it Costs to Eat ! By Rebeca Monzo.
11-08-2014Record Number of Cubans Crossing the Mexican Border to USA: By Wilfredo Cancio Isla. HT.
11-08-2014A Terrorist Big Fish Gets Away. By Mary Anastasia O'Grady. WSJ.
10-08-2014Remembering Gustavo Arcos: Eight Years Later. The Cuban Revolutionary who broke with Fidel Castro and became a Human Rights Defender. By Notes from the Cuban Exile Quarter.
09-08-2014China's Dagong Downgrades Venezuela to BB-. Escalating economic risks will threaten Venezuela's political stability, and the repayment environment tends to deteriorate. LAHT.
08-08-2014Rekindling old friendships. Cuba is once again resorting to geopolitics to support a failing economy. The Economist.
07-08-2014AP Gets Defensive on Cuba Programs, Contradicts Itself. By Capitol Hill Cubans.
06-08-2014The Maleconazo in a Can of Condensed Milk. By Yoani Sanchez.
06-08-2014Maleconazo at 20 years and the Associated Press. By Notes from the Cuban Exile Quarter.
05-08-2014Overstatement. By Fernando Dámaso.
04-08-2014Maleconazo: A rumor of freedom that shook the Castro dictatorship. By Notes from the Cuban Exile Quarter.
04-08-2014AP Should Next Investigate How to Regain Its Objectivity. By Capitol Hill Cubans.
02-08-2014Support religious freedom in Cuba. By Katrina Lantos Swett and May Ann Glendon.
01-08-2014Harvard University Professor Jorge Dominguez lets the cat out of the bag on Cuba. By Notes from the Cuban Exile Quarter.
31-07-2014Cuban Dissident to Congressional Black Caucus: Stop Helping the Dictatorship. By Mike Gonzalez.
30-07-2014A morning at the Courthouse. By Rebeca Monzo.
30-07-2014Leopoldo Lopez and Angel Santiesteban: Two Lives and One Destiny. By the Editor of Santiesteban's blog.
27-07-2014A Hilarious Conclusion. By Fernando Dámaso.
26-07-2014Completely dismantled, the farce against Angel Santiesteban continues in an unknown location.
22-07-2014Oswaldo Payás death in Cuba two years ago still awaits a proper investigation. Washington Post Editorial.
22-07-2014The Battered Press. By Fernando Dámaso.
21-07-2014Leopoldo Lopez's jailing is a symptom of a sick Venezuela. By Lilian Tintori. WP.




 
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SER CAMPESINO EN UN PAÍS LIBRE. ENTREVISTA AL SEÑOR ALF HOLMSTEN. Por: Guillermo Milán Reyes. Editor y redactor de "Cuba Democracia y Vida".
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