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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.

____________

04-09-2015 Is the Joy of Venezuelas Maduro Temporary? By VenEconomy. LAHT.
03-09-2015Venezuela manufactures a dispute with neighboring Colombia. Washington Post editorial.
02-09-2015Cuba Trains "Thugs" in Venezuela. By Emilio J Cardenas.
01-09-2015Cuba: The Tyrannosaurus Rex Generation. By Martín Guevara. HT.
31-08-2015Cubans deported from the US. By Frank Correa. Cubalog.eu.
30-08-2015Colombia Border Conflict Backfiring on Venezuelas Maduro? By VenEconomy. LAHT.
27-08-2015Border Closure Decision by Venezuela's Maduro has Neither Form nor Substance. By VenEconomy. LAHT.
27-08-2015Demagoguery: A Cardinal Sign of the Cuban Revolution. By Jeovany Vega.  
21-08-2015Obama's New Cuban Partners, My Old Jailers. By Armando Valladares.
19-08-2015Is the Cuban Gov. Contradicting Its Own Attacks on Fracking? By Rogelio Manuel Diaz Moreno. HT.
18-08-2015Why the Cuban Adjustment Act needs to be fully restored. By Notes from the Cuban Exile Quarter.
18-08-2015Did The Kerry Visit To Cuba Matter? By Elliott Abrams.
17-08-2015Beyond the Flag. By Fernando Dámaso.
15-08-2015'Prisoners of History'. Editorial of The New York Sun.
15-08-2015Marco Rubio: On Iran and Cuba, U.S. Must Lead Through Strength and Example.
13-08-2015More tourists won't change Cuba. By Ambassador James Cason.
12-08-2015Some new immigrants from Cuba need a second look. By Fabiola Santiago. (+videos)
12-08-2015The Goose No Longer Lays "Oil Eggs" in Venezuela. VenEconomy. LAHT.
09-08-2015Cuba and LGBT Rights. By Ernesto Antunez.
08-08-2015A Fruitless Complaint against Cuban State Security Agents. By Luis Rondón Paz. HT.
06-08-2015Time Has No Value in Cuba. By Kabir Vega Castellanos. HT.
04-08-2015Two Accursed Words. By Fernando Dámaso.
04-08-2015Is the Big Bad Wolf Finally Coming to Venezuela? By VenEconomy. LAHT.
04-08-2015Castro: Now Censoring Cubans in Washington DC’s Department of State. By Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo and translated by Alex Higson.
04-08-2015Obama Charm Drive Targets Venezuela After Iran, Cuba. By Nicole Gaouette.
04-08-2015Interview with Ángel Santiesteban after his conditional release – Cuba 2015: "Most of our people pretend".
03-08-2015BREAKING: State Department Manipulated Cuba Human Trafficking Report. Capitol Hill Cubans.
02-08-2015ALARMING: Cuban waters and reservoirs contaminated by lead and other heavy metals. By Ernesto Pérez Chang. Cubanet.
01-08-2015Examination of the Latest Ministry of Public Health Crusade. By Jeovany Jimenez Vega.
31-07-2015Here We Go Again: The Exiles Are Changing, the Exiles Are Changing! By Capitol Hill Cubans.
31-07-2015Eighty Percent of Las Tunas Province Is Facing Soil Erosion and AnotherTwentyeight Percent Is Facing Desertification. 14ymedio.
30-07-2015A few words from Mauricio Macri, head of government of Buenos Aires to Venezuelas Nicolas Maduro. By VenEconomy. LAHT.
30-07-2015A warning on doing business in Cuba. By Timothy Belevetz and Ronald Oleynik, Holland & Knight law firm.
29-07-2015Obama Leaves Dictators Free to Flourish. By Roger Boyes.
28-07-2015Lower profile but thorny dialogues with the Venezuelan government and FARC, who appear to regard the Obama administration as a potential source of easy favors. Washington Post Editorial.
26-07-2015As Odebrechts Corruption Probe Widens, So Should Some Politicians Shame. Capitol Hill Cubans.
26-07-2015Writing about the Cowards. By Reinaldo Escobar.
25-07-2015Fake change in Cuba: totalitarian regime maintains travel Controls. By Notes from the Cuban Exile Quarter.
24-07-2015It's Time for Plowing in Venezuela. By VenEconomy. LAHT.
23-07-2015Slain Dissidents Daughter Demands Answers. By Travis LaCouter.
23-07-2015Payá Was An Example Of Dedication And Persistence. 14ymedio. 
21-07-2015U.S. diplomats in Cuba would do well to focus on human rights. Washington Post Editorial.
21-07-2015Exiles Fear Impact of U.S.-Cuba Normalization on Benefits for Cuban Migrants. U.S. Could Deport 35,000 Cubans to the Island. LAHT/EFE.
20-07-2015The high price of diplomatic relations with the Castro regime. By Notes from the Cuban Exile Quarter.
20-07-2015Obama rewarding oppression in Cuba. By Marion Smith. Video CNN: US set to open embassy in Havana after 54 years.
19-07-2015Winds from the North. By VenEconomy. LAHT. 
18-07-2015Parliamentary Smugness in Cuba 2015. By Rogelio Manuel Diaz Moreno. HT.
18-07-2015Cuba Shuns Google, Exposes Anti-Sanctions Lobbyist's Lies. By Capitol Hill Cubans.
09-07-2015About the Wave of Violence in Venezuela. By VenEconomy. LAHT. 
08-07-2015Cubans pay the price for Obama's 'engagement' with the Castros. By Jeff Jacoby.





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

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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"
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