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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.

____________

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.
20-07-2014Oswaldo's and Harold's Nonviolent Legacy in Cuba: Demonstrating Love is Stronger than Hate. By Notes from the Cuban Exile Quarter.
20-07-2014Russia-Cuba love affair on again. By Juan O. Tamayo.
19-07-2014The New Robin Hoods. By Ángel Santiesteban.
14-07-2014Man accuses Cuban agents of insidious, 'psychological' intimidation. By Juan O. Tamayo.
13-07-2014Twenty years of impunity in the July 13, 1994 "13 de Marzo" tugboat massacre. By John Suarez in Notes from the Cuban Exile Quarter.  
12-07-2014The Massacre in Canimar River: 34th Anniversary. By Enrisco.
12-07-2014The Tribal Unity of the Dissenters. By Ángel Santiesteban. 
11-07-2014What fate awaits Cubans if Cuba and the U.S. normalize relations? By Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo.
08-07-2014Ghost of Hugo Chávez stalks Spain. By Carlos Alberto Montaner.
08-07-2014I Would Not Accept Trading My Freedom For That of the Spies. By Ángel Santiesteban.
07-07-2014Response to my Blog Readers. By Ángel Santiesteban.
07-07-2014Che's Battle Comrade Becomes Maduro's New Economic Adviser. Cuba's Dominance over Venezuela Out in the Open for All to See. By Marcela Estrada.
04-07-2014The Curtain Falls, Lies Are Exposed. By VenEconomy. LAHT.
04-07-2014Should American Taxpayers Fund Cuba's Media? By Humberto Fontova.
03-07-2014Still no justice for 37 "13 de Marzo" tugboat victims 20 years later: A Call to Remember and Take Action. By Notes from the Cuban Exile Quarter.
01-07-2014The Party and the Army: Civil-Military Relations in Cuba. By William M. LeoGrande.
01-07-2014Does the Venezuelan Revolution Even Care? By VenEconomy. LAHT.
30-06-2014Children Screaming. By Armando Anel, Luis Felipe Rojas.
30-06-2014Lift the embargo – but liberate Cuba first. By Jeff Jacoby.
23-06-2014While most protests in Venezuela have been held by students so far this year, other sectors are rising up over major grievances. A total 8,526 is the number of reported protest events in 18 months. By Francisco Olivares.
23-06-2014Arnaldo Ochoa - a problem for Castro brothers 25 years ago.
20-06-2014Venezuela President Ousts Long-Time Leftist Economy Planner. By Kejal Vyas. WSJ. /Giordani's removal from office unveils crisis in public administration. By Víctor Salmerón. EU.
19-06-2014Talk of lifting Cuba embargo brings memories of brutality. By Guillermo Martínez.
18-06-2014Myths About U.S. Policy Toward Cuba. By Jaime Suchlicki.
18-06-2014Venezuela: Tales of Presidential Assassinations, Tough Nuts to Crack. By VenEconomy. LAHT.
17-06-2014The New Man in Cuba in Search of Anabolic Steroids. By Juan Juan Almeida. 
17-06-2014Cuba clamps down on Wi-Fi networks. By Juan O. Tamayo.
15-06-2014Fidel Castro's Undesirables. By Ivan García.
15-06-2014A Permissable Violation . By Fernando Damaso.
15-06-2014Being In Prison is Worth It. By Ángel Santiesteban.
15-06-2014Canadian fears foregone verdict in Cuban Court. By Kim Mackrael. 
13-06-2014A Barbaric Onslaught against TalCual. By TalCual. LAHT.
12-06-2014Travelling by Tram. By Fernando Damaso. + historic video.
12-06-2014Public Health In Cuba, Between Missions, Rabies and Dengue Fever.
11-06-2014Venezuela: Culpable Silence. By VenEconomy. LAHT.
09-06-2014Forbidden Magazines for Cuba's Higher-Ups. By Martin Guevara.
07-06-2014Cuba and the Perversion of Language. By Alejandro Armengol.
07-06-2014Report: Venezuela, Cuba Providing Easy Access for Islamists to US and Canada. By Frances Martel.
05-06-2014Lies and Deceptions of a Revolution. By Tania Diaz Castro. 
05-06-2014Colombia's challenger vows hard line on Venezuela.By Andres Oppenheimer.
04-06-2014Repression Up As Flood Of Cash Inundates Cuba. Editorial by Investors Business Daily.
03-06-2014Foreign Investors Won't Liberate Cuba. By Mary Anastasia O'Grady.
02-06-2014Radio Marti's Listeners on the Central Committee of the PCC. By Juan Juan Almeida.
01-06-2014Chamber of crony capitalism sells out Cubans. By Roger F. Noriega.
30-05-2014Memories of One December 10th. By Jeovany Jimenez Vega. 
29-05-2014Judge or Divide? By Antonio Rodiles.
28-05-2014The True Liberation of the Cuban Woman. By Rebeca Monzo.





GUILLERMO MILAN REYES. EDITOR Y REDACTOR DE ESTA PÁGINA WEB: "CUBA DEMOCRACIA Y VIDA. ORG"
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ILIANA CURRA. EX-PRESA POLÍTICA CUBANA. ESCRITORA Y ANALISTA POLÍTICA. COLABORADORA DE ESTA PÁGINA WEB "CUBA DEMOCRACIA Y VIDA"
ALBERTO GUTIÉRREZ BARBERO. ARTÍCULOS Y OPINIONES.
Manolo Pozo. Ex-Preso Político Cubano: ARTÍCULOS Y OPINIONES.
Lcdo. Sergio Ramos. Artículos, Opiniones y Notas de Prensa.

HUGO J. BYRNE: ESCRITOR CUBANO Y ANALISTA POLÍTICO ASILADO EN EE.UU. ARTÍCULOS Y OPINIONES.

Alfredo M. Cepero. Artículo, Documentos y Notas de Prensa.
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Julio M. Shiling. Escritor, Periodista y Analista Político: ARTÍCULOS, OPINIONES, VIDEOS Y DOCUMENTOS.
JORGE HERNÁNDEZ FONSECA. ARTÍCULOS Y OPINIONES.
MARTIN GUEVARA. ESCRITOR ARGENTINO QUE SE CRIÓ EN CUBA. ES SOBRINO DEL CHE GUEVARA. VIVE ACTUALMENTE EN ESPAÑA.
CARICATURAS DE ALFREDO PONG.
SER CAMPESINO EN UN PAÍS LIBRE. ENTREVISTA AL SEÑOR ALF HOLMSTEN. Por: Guillermo Milán Reyes. Editor y redactor de "Cuba Democracia y Vida".
Entrevistas realizadas a Guillermo Milán Reyes, editor y redactor de esta página Web "Cuba Democracia Y Vida, por varios periodistas de importantes periódicos en Maputo-Mozambique, a mediados del 2004.
RESUMEN EN ESPAÑOL DE LA ENTREVISTA HECHA A GUILLERMO MILÁN POR EL PERIÓDICO SUECO " TIDNINGEN ÅNGERMANLAND"
GUILLERMO MILAN REYES. EDITOR Y REDACTOR DE ESTA PÁGINA WEB: "CUBA DEMOCRACIA Y VIDA. ORG"
DIARIO LA MARINA: PUEDES LEER NOTICIAS DESDE 1899 HASTA 1960.


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