Saturday, August 17, 2019

Independent computer network in Cuba has been taken over by the Castro regime

The Castro regime is totalitarian.

Preemptive arrests and state security presence block protest for SNET
Today the space outside of the Ministry of Communications was taken over by state security, and preemptive arrests were made to prevent youth that wanted to protest the take over of SNET by the Castro regime from gathering and expressing themselves.

Yoani Sanchez reported earlier over twitter that "with arrests and threats, State Security aborts a protest for SNet. Activists, independent journalists and members of the wireless network denounced political police pressures."
On August 16, 2019 Andrea Rodriguez, the long time Associated Press correspondent in Cuba, reported that "after weeks of complaints and protests, the state JovenClub will absorb SNET, the street network that delighted gamers for a decade without Internet in Cuba."

This is a euphemistic way to report that the Castro regime has seized an independent network in a government take over. 

This has also happened in the real world in the recent past with the seizure of the Rotilla music festival in 2011. Rotilla had been tolerated and held gatherings in Cuba for over a decade before it was shut down.

S-Net and Rotilla were not political spaces but free spaces for youth to gather. In a totalitarian regime that is unacceptable. This is why when members of S-Net try to maintain a horizontal platform they are tolerated for a time, as was Rotilla, but is eventually eliminated. The priority is control not providing more services and spaces for Cubans.
Ernesto de Armas  on August 15 over twitter posted a 5-second video that briefly shows a blue vehicle traveling with the following text: "Yesterday at 11:45 pm + - State security came to my home. They took me in a patrol car. They threatened me, falsely accused me of things, even threatened me with jail. I am very sad that this happens just to defend SNET in my country. I don't hurt anyone ..."

On Saturday, August 10, 2019 more than a hundred S-Net users gathered outside the Ministry of Communications of what 14ymedio described as "SNet (Street Network), the largest wifi network in Cuba."
In a prior CubaBrief the phrase "the devil is in the details" was used to discuss economic sanctions and trade with with Castro regime. It should also be applied when discussing the expansion of the internet in Cuba.
On May 29, 2019 both official and independent publications on the island reported that on July 29, 2019 the Cuban government would recognize private, informal networks and legalize them. Reuters reported that Cuba announced that "it would legalize private Wi-Fi networks to access the internet and connect computers," based on resolutions (98/2019 and 99/2019) issued by the regime's Ministry of Communication
What has happened is the opposite of what was reported in May. "S-Net", a domestic, non-hierarchical, self organizing and self configuring private network that covers all of Havana and is also found in the country side has been declared illegal.The two resolutions issued by the Cuban dictatorship's Ministry of Communication in May 2019 that were interpreted positively by the international press are being used to target this mesh network. Now what had been long tolerated is being shut down.
In addition, Article 68 of Decree-Law 370/2019 issued on July 4, 2019 prohibits "f) hosting a site on servers located in a foreign country, other than as a mirror or replica of the main site on servers located in national territory” and “i) to disseminate, through public networks of data transmission, information contrary to the social interest, morals, good manners and integrity of people.” This can be easily used to censor on-line platforms with political views that do not advance communism in Cuba, and has also come under criticism in Cuba.
The Cuban government is shifting tactics for controlling information. For a long time it simply barred internet access on the island, but now it has decided to follow the Chinese model: expand internet access, while systematically controlling and censoring it. The regime is playing a little catch up and had been caught off its game with protests that were mobilized through social networks earlier this year. This also presents an opportunity to further systematically monitor Cubans on a mass scale, and would be a modernizing tool for totalitarianism as it is now in China.
The tactics changed but the objective remains the same. The Castro regime continues its six decade effort to block access to the free and uncensored flow of information. The dictatorship began by targeting and shutting down independent newspapers, radio and television stations in 1959 and sixty years later it is doing the same with the internet.
Antonio García Martínez of Ideas at WIRED and author of 'Chaos Monkeys' had reported in 2017 on the burgeoning internet scene in Cuba gives a more somber assessment now in 2019, "Information may want to be free, but dictatorships have other plans."
Freedom of expression whether with paper or electrons continues to be a cat and mouse game in Cuba.

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