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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.

____________

06-02-2016Facts Prove Obama's Cuba Policy Counter-Productive. By Mauricio Claver-Carone.
02-02-2016Cuba, Burma and Obama. By Antonio Rodiles. 
02-02-2016Hollande And Castro: Plenty of Wine But No Democracy. By Yoani Sanchez. 14ymedio.
01-02-2016Failure in Cuba. The Washington Post - Editorial.
29-01-2016Venezuelans Hit Hard by another Crisis. By VenEconomy. LAHT. 
29-01-2016The New Cuban Missile Crisis Mystery Deepens. By Shoshana Bryen and Dr. Stephen Bryen.
29-01-201657 years of the House of Castro. By Cuba Archive.
28-01-2016The economic future of Cuba looks bleak. America is preparing for a wave of Cuban refugees. By Jacob Gelt Dekker.
27-01-2016Statements by Capitol Hill Cubans, Bob Menendez and Marco Rubio on Latest Round of Obama's Cuba Regulatory Changes. Capitol Hill Cubans. 
27-01-2016The Invisible Struggle of Cuba's Largest Opposition Group. By Haroldo Dilla Alfonso. (+ CDV.org note)
26-01-2016Venezuela's Economic, Social Indicators Speak for Themselves. By VenEconomy. LAHT.
26-01-2016El Nino and the Old Man. By Rebeca Monzo.
25-01-2016A Calamity Called Evo. By Carlos Alberto Montaner. 14ymedio.
25-01-2016Cuba's Democrats Need U.S. Support. By Mary Anastasia O'Grady.
24-01-2016Time is Running Out for Venezuela. By VenEconomy. LAHT.
23-01-2016Cuba's Dangerous Crusade against Intermediaries. By Osmel Ramirez Alvarez. HT. 
22-01-2016Without Free Speech, Cuba Remains Trapped in Totalitarian Unanimity. A Simple Compromise Can Satisfy All Sides of the Embargo Debate. By José Azel.
22-01-2016The Fall of Ortega's Central American Wall. By Carlos F. Chamorro. HT. 
20-01-2016Jovellanos, a Cuban Town in the Matanza Province That Lives on Nostalgia. By Pedro Acosta.
20-01-2016The president of the National Assembly Ramos Alllup revealed lies and told truths to Nicolas Maduro, who presented an Economic Emergency Decree for consideration by the Assembly. By VenEconomy. LAHT.
19-01-2016Land Leases, a 'Half-ownership'. By Juan Carlos Fernandez. 14ymedio. 
19-01-2016Friday of Surprises for Venezuela. By VenEconomy. LAHT.  
17-01-2016Human Rights in Cuba: Nothing Has Changed. By Jeovany Jimenez Vega.
17-01-2016Obama Should Promote, Defend Democracy in Latin America. By Ambassadors Lino Gutierrez and Robert Callahan.  
16-01-2016Report: Cuban Army Gets Lions Share of Foreign Investment. By Sabrina Martín.
15-01-2016Naming the Wounds. By Wendy Guerra.
15-01-2016Rising prices and sudden shortages - an 'inexplicable' problem. By Reinaldo Escobar. 14ymedio.
14-01-2016 Who will succeed Raul Castro? By Roberto Alvarez Quinones. DDC.
14-01-2016Unnecessary Portraits. By Fernando Dámaso.
13-01-2016Cubas War on Christianity: Evangelical Church Demolished Overnight. By Frances Martel.
12-01-2016Higher education in Cuba: A Vision (Part 1). By Rolby Milian. Somos+.
12-01-2016North Korea's Cuban Friends. By Anastasia O'Grady.
10-01-2016The Day the Prisoners Are Freed in Venezuela. By Carlos Alberto Montaner.  
07-01-2016Closed Game. By Fernando Dámaso.
07-01-2016A Glance at Cuba in 2015. By Iván García.
06-01-2016In Venezuela They Blinked. By Beatrice E. Rangel. LAHT.
06-01-2016The Cuban Nation And The Cuba Of The Castro Brothers. By Jorge Hernandez Fonseca. 14ymedio.
06-01-2016Against the Changes. By Fernando Dámaso.  
04-01-2016Abuse In Cubas Valle Grande Prison. By Manuel Morejon. 14ymedio. (+ video by UNPACU)
04-01-2016The EU must not betray Cuba. By Rosa Maria Payá.
03-01-2016Cuba And The Three Questions. By Carlos Alberto Montaner.
01-01-2016Beans, ah, the beans! By Yoani Sanchez. 14ymedio.
30-12-2015In Diapers. By Manuel Pereira.
30-12-2015Cubas CDR Committees: Bringing Back the Dead. By Irina Echarry. HT.
28-12-2015Who Cares About Vladimir Morera Bacallao? By Capitol Hill Cubans.
27-12-2015Cuba's Energy Revolution is in a Tailspin. By Luz Escobar.
26-12-2015Inefficiency, Not Drought, Is the Cause of Cuba’s Water Shortages. By Pilar Montes. HT.  
26-12-2015To Leave or Not to Leave Cuba. By Veronica Vega.
25-12-2015Cuba Faces of 2015: Zaqueo Baez Guerrero, Government Opponent. 14ymedio.
22-12-2015Why Do Cubans Emigrate? By Ivan García.





GUILLERMO MILAN REYES. Representante de La Unión Patriótica de Cuba (UNPACU) en Suecia. EDITOR Y REDACTOR DE: "CUBA DEMOCRACIA Y VIDA. ORG"
Eva Belfrage: Representante de la Unión Patriótica de Cuba (UNPACU) en Suecia. Editor and collaborator for the English/Swedish page of “Cuba Democracia y Vida”


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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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