Informacion economica sobre Cuba

Cuba’s Dark Internet
One of World’s Most Restricted, Despite Recent Infrastructure Upgrades
By Joel Fensch on Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Cuba’s internet remains one of the most restricted and censored in the
world, according to the 2013 Freedom on the Net ranking, published this
past week by Freedom House. The watchdog organization, dedicated to the
expansion of freedom around the world, has covered 60 nations in its
third annual report, and Cuba received the worst available grade of “not
free.” That compares with “free” grades for Argentina and the United
States — while Mexico, Brazil, Ecuador, and Venezuela were “partially free.”
In addition to technical or network restrictions on accessible content
for Cubans, the 2013 survey cites crackdowns on bloggers and citizen
journalists in late 2012, high prices, and extensive government
regulation as major factors contributing to Cuba’s unenviable position
(p.21, PDF).

Hopes were high that freedom of ideas would spread in Cuba this year
following the installation of a high-speed fiber optic cable from
politically sympathetic Venezuela. Unfortunately, this did not lead to
more access for Cubans, as it became clear that select government
agencies and offices were the real beneficiaries of the upgrade. This
means that most Cubans continue to be limited to the national
intranet, which consists of an in-country e-mail system, a Cuban
encyclopedia, and websites that tend to be supportive of the government.
Internet access in Cuba has traditionally been limited by both a lack of
funding on the island and fear from the regime regarding the
implications of a public with unbridled access to information and online
networking. Access in the tightly controlled communist nation also
remains expensive where available — four times the average salary.

Even if one does have the funds, Cuba’s surveillance and restrictions
come with teeth. They have resulted in fines, confiscations of
internet-connected equipment, and detentions of dissident bloggers.

Jose Azel, a Cuban exile and senior scholar with the Institute for Cuban
and Cuban-American Studies (ICCAS) at the University of Miami, laments
that he doesn’t have reason to believe that there will be any meaningful
changes in internet freedom in Cuba in the foreseeable future. He added
bleakly that “control of information is an essential repression
mechanism of the regime, and they are not going to give it up willingly.”
The survey also notes that Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) is
blocked in Cuba, and extremely popular social media services like
Facebook and Twitter are largely unavailable to the
islanders. Ironically, Freedom House’s website is accessible in Cuba;
however, slow connection speeds impede access to their website, which is
typical for many foreign news outlets, including the British
Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), Le Monde, and El Nuevo Herald (a
Miami-based, Spanish-language newspaper).

While this year’s survey lacks coverage for many countries in Latin
America — including Chile, Peru, and Colombia — the study does highlight
Argentina, perhaps unexpectedly, with a designation of “free.” Argentina
is home to one of the largest populations of internet users within South
America, and despite its fragile political environment, the study cites
rapid growth of internet access since 2009 due to public policies aimed
at improving both internet access and service.

Cuba’s oppressive restrictions on internet access follow a global trend
of deteriorating internet freedom, underscored in the survey, but the
report also highlights hope that due to internet freedom activists,
greater awareness and attention is being brought to bear on the trend
toward increasingly draconian laws and Cuban-style persecution
of social-media users, bloggers, and citizen journalists. Azel of ICCAS
added hopefully that while state control over internet in the island
nation remains draconian, “dissidents are developing all sorts of
ingenious approaches to disseminate information.”

Source: “Cuba’s Dark Internet: One of World’s Most Restricted, Despite
Recent Infrastructure Upgrades” –

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