The New York Times editorial board today is at it again providing advice to the dictatorship in Cuba on how to prolong its existence this time by achieving its long term political goal of lifting the embargo through partnering with a technology firm to overwhelm congressional opposition:
"Partnering with Google, which has enormous lobbying clout in Washington, could advance Havana’s goal of building enough political support in Congress to repeal the embargo and would make it harder for a future president to dial back the restoration of diplomatic ties that Mr. Obama set in motion last year."As has occurred before The New York Times omits and distorts key facts such as the circumstances surrounding Cuba plugging into the global cable network in 2013 enabling high-speed connections that have not reached the average Cuban. First it was President Obama who on April 13, 2009 directed the Secretaries of State, Treasury, and Commerce to take the needed steps to:
- Authorize U.S. telecommunications network providers to enter into agreements to establish fiber-optic cable and satellite telecommunications facilities linking the United States and Cuba.
- License U.S. telecommunications service providers to enter into roaming service agreements with Cuba’s telecommunications service providers.
- License U.S. satellite radio and satellite television service providers to engage in transactions necessary to provide services to customers in Cuba.
- License persons subject to U.S. jurisdiction to activate and pay U.S. and third-country service providers for telecommunications, satellite radio and satellite television services provided to individuals in Cuba.
- Authorize the donation of certain consumer telecommunication devices without a license.
The regime may now have to abandon the its chief strategy of denying Cubans access to internet in order to pursue opportunities to enrich the dictatorship. However the Cuban government still has at least nine other tactics used by other repressive regimes to limit the internet's liberating potential: web blocking, precision censorship, infrastructure control, cyber attacks on exile run sites, malware attacks, internet kill switches, detaining bloggers, violence against online journalists, and criminalizing uncensored access to internet.
to the liberating potential of the internet.
Sadly, the visit of a Google executive to Cuba in 2014 did not inspire much confidence. Executive chairman of Google Eric Schmidt already had past associations with Sun Microsystems, the company that played an important role in erecting the Great Firewall in China that the Google executive now condemns and also Google's own past assistance of Chinese censorship both of which were condemned by Amnesty International.
Even more disturbing was the Google executive's reflections on his Cuba visit that made clear the Cubans had been effective at selling their Potemkin Village fiction as fact with such passages:
The two most successful parts of the Revolution, as they call it, is the universal health care free for all citizens with very good doctors, and the clear majority of women in the executive and managerial ranks in the country. Almost all the leaders we met with were female, and one joked with us that the Revolution promised equality, the macho men didn’t like it but “they got used to it”, with a broad smile.First the health care system in Cuba during the years of massive Soviet subsidies may have been something else, but the present one is a disaster. Even the public health infrastructure is a mess as the ongoing cholera outbreak is but one high profile example.
For a more complete overview that places the island's current reality into a historical context Schmidt would be well served to read Health, Politics, and Revolution in Cuba Since 1898 by Katherine Hirschfeld, an anthropologist who spent a lot of time in Cuba that describes how her idealistic preconceptions were dashed by 'discrepancies between rhetoric and reality,' she observed a repressive, bureaucratized and secretive system, long on 'militarization' and short on patients' rights.
However, that was not as shocking as Schmidt's second claim that another "successful" part of the Revolution is that: "Women are in the executive and managerial ranks." Mr Schmidt should take a closer look at the history of violence visited upon women who dissent and speak their minds in Cuba.
|On May 24, 2015 Sirley Ávila León was the victim of a machete attack|
Remaining silent before these ongoing atrocities while engaging in "happy talk" on how a Stalinist regime can collaborate with U.S. technology firms to overcome economic sanctions which limit its ability to make mischief will not assist a democratic transition in Cuba, but do just the opposite - prolong the life of a totalitarian dictatorship.
This has been seen elsewhere, and apparently The New York Times would like to repeat it in Cuba. Technology is neutral, and repressive regimes have contracted Western companies to place draconian controls on the internet that are used to target activists. Amnesty International identified "Cisco Systems, Microsoft, Nortel Networks, Websense and Sun Microsystems" as having "provided technology used to censor and control the use of the Internet in China." These repressive applications of new technologies have been transferred to other dictatorships and now with the help of the The New York Times editorial board arriving in Cuba.
This should not be surprising considering the history of The New York Times with regards to left wing totalitarian regimes and propaganda role that assisted in empowering Fidel Castro in the 1950s and presently using a former Cuban intelligence agent, who remains an apologist for the Castro regime as a source. However it is important to highlight the facts and confront the omissions, and inaccuracies of what is supposed to be the newspaper of record.