Outlawed Information


Rumors spread, murmurs become official notes and newspapers report – several weeks later – what the whole country already knows. We have gone from rationed information to a veritable “coming out” that flows in parallel with the censorship of the official media. Our glasnost has not been driven from offices and ministries, but has emerged in mobile phones, digital cameras and removable memories. The same black market that supplied powdered milk or detergent now offers illegal Internet connections and television programs that arrive through prohibited satellite dishes.

This is how we learned of the events in Venezuela during the last week. My own cell phone has been on the verge of collapse from so many messages telling me about the student protests and the closure of several television stations. I forward copies of these brief headlines to everyone in my address book, in a network that mimics viral transmission: I spread it to many and they in turn inoculate a hundred more with the information. There is no way to stop this form of broadcast news, because it does not use a fixed structure but mutates and adapts to each circumstance. It is anti-hegemonic, although the little word acquires different connotations in the Cuban case, where the hegemony has belonged to the newspaper Granma, the TV show The Round Table, and the DOR*.

We knew of the deaths in the psychiatric hospital days before the official announcement and we heard of the fate of those pushed out** in March 2009 through “radio bemba” – literally “lip radio” or Cuba’s gossip network – and one day we will know that the “end” has come, before they authorize the press to report it. The flow of information has quintupled, although it does not obey a government decision to inform us of major events, rather it is technological development that has allowed us to skip over triumphalist headlines and newcasts empty of content. We are increasingly less dependent on the ideological pap of the television news. I know hundreds of people who haven’t tuned into Cubavision and the rest of the national channels for months. They only watch forbidden television.

The screen of a Nokia or Motorola, the bright surface of a CD or the tiny little stick of a flash drive, shred our disinformation. On the other side of that veil of omissions and falsehoods – created over decades – there is an extension, unknown and new, that frightens and attracts us.

* The Cuban Communist Party Central Committee’s Department of Revolutionary Orientation that determines the information policy of every newspaper in the country.

Translator’s note
In March 2009 vice president Carlos Lage and Foreign Minister Felipe Perez Roque, were removed from office.

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35 thoughts on “Outlawed Information

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention Generation Y » Outlawed Information -- Topsy.com

  2. Here is Alarcon explaining to Elieser why cubans can have the right to exit their own country!!

    This is priceless!

    After the meeting the State security confiscated the notebook he was holding and interrogated him about who asked him to ask those questions!

    Do they think people in Cuba are stupid?
    Do they think people have not been asking themselves in 50 years those questions?

    I wonder if the international press still in Cuba like Fernando Ravsberg from BBC would visit Eliecer Avila to let us know how is he doing and whatever happen to him afterward?

  3. Clarification for #17
    Julio:
    I hope I have not offended you
    My intent was to use humor in a sad situation.
    As always preciative of everyone’s intelligent imput!

  4. AFP:Cuba’s Internet revolution edges forward, with limits
    By Isabel Sanchez (AFP) – 6 hours ago

    “Yoan, who also received a ban from working for four years, was a tiny link in the chain connecting Cubans to the illegal network: an email service costs 10-15 dollars per month, it costs 50 dollars per month to navigate the Internet, and one dollar to send or receive an email.

    “I need to be in contact with my friends and the world, but I can’t afford ‘underground’ Internet so I only have email. I connect at night because that’s what my illegal provider tells me to do,” said Aida, a 38-year-old former waitress.

    The Caribbean island connects to the Internet by satellite because the decades-long US embargo prevents access to underwater cables which pass near its coastlines.

    The government blames the embargo for its limits on the service — it gives priority to state and foreign companies, academics, doctors and research centers.

    Dissidents and critics of the Communist government say Cuba, like China, limits Internet access to restrict freedom of information and control criticism of the single-party regime.

    They say that is why authorities block dissident sites or blogs, such as the award-winning blog of Yoani Sanchez, for being subversive.

    Cubans can connect to email at controlled state access points for 1.5 dollars per hour, or access the Internet in hotels with cards costing seven dollars per hour.

    But with the average monthly salary at 20 dollars, that is also out of reach of most citizens.”

    http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5jbFbntifIM9IYhK3RQ9qIU1nSxDw

  5. test

    === there may be some problem with posting comments right now ===
    === if it persists for more than a couple hours I’ll see if someone can tell me what’s going on. ===

  6. MIAMI HERALD:Lech Walesa: Change will come to Cuba
    By LUISA YANEZ
    lyanez@MiamiHerald.com

    Former Polish President and Nobel Peace Laureate Lech Walesa, a key player in helping bringing down communism in Eastern Europe, said Tuesday there will be a political change in Cuba soon.

    “It’s going to happen,” Walesa said, speaking through an interpreter. “But the world must be ready for the changes that will bring about,” he cautioned.

    Walesa, the guest speaker at a Tuesday $100-a-plate luncheon of the Foundation for Human Rights in Cuba at the Freedom Tower, said the rest of the world needs to see the real Cuba — and not the island as “a tourist attraction.”

    A union organizer and founder of the Solidarity Movement, Walesa led a nonviolent revolt against Poland’s communist system in the 1980s. He has been working with the Cuban American National Foundation on how lessons from his movement can best be applied to support the work of civil society groups in Cuba.

    “What aspects of his movement can be applied to our struggles in Cuba?” asked Omar Lopez Montenegro, executive director of the foundation for human rights.

    Francisco “Pepe” Hernandez, president of the Cuban American National Foundation, who attended the luncheon, said, “There are many Lech Walesas inside Cuba.”

    “What’s needed,” Hernandez said, “is for the world to join and support the struggle of the Cuba people, just as it did during Walesa’s fight against the Polish government. World support is very important.”

    Walesa said he believes “our generation has the best chance to bring about change in the world” and help push for moral governments.

    “Values are more important than tanks and rockets,” he said.

    At the event, Walesa was presented with the keys to the city by Miami Mayor Tomás Regalado, who explained to Walesa the significance of the Freedom Tower, which is now owned by Miami Dade College.

    “Thousands of Cuban exiles escaping communism were processed here,” he said.

    Miami-Dade Commissioner Rebeca Sosa presented him with the keys to the county.“God bless you for fighting for the right of democracy,” she told Walesa.

    All proceeds from the luncheon will benefit the efforts of the foundation.

    http://www.miamiherald.com/news/miami-dade/breaking-news/story/1458083.html

  7. Read this about the (non)right to travel for Cubans

    http://www.havanatimes.org/?p=18972

    HAVANA TIMES, Feb. 1 — A while ago, Cuban Parliament President Ricardo Alarcon was asked whether Cubans should be entitled the right to travel freely. This prominent member of the island’s political elite responded —in the finest style of standup comedy— saying that if this right existed, the sky would become so filled with airplanes that some would collide with others, causing great a disaster. In my opinion, the greater disaster was this official’s response.

    This statement was probably no more disastrous than what was later said by the president of the Cuban National Union of Writers and Artists (UNEAC), writer Miguel Barnet. He affirmed that in Cuba there exists complete freedom to travel, citing as an example the fact that he himself has traveled to thirty countries. As I suspect he hopes to continue traveling, Barnet knows he must walk a thin line, otherwise he risks discrediting himself and seeing the end of his journeys.

  8. REPORTERS WITHOUT BORDERS:Dissident journalist arrested in Holguín as freedom to inform is stalled. Published on 1 February 2010

    Cuba’s National Revolutionary Police (PNR) arrested Juan Carlos Reyes Ocaña, journalist on the small news agency Holguín Press on 29 January then took him to a police barracks to face charges of “insult”, “disobedience” and “illegal economic activity”.

    He was released the following day, but has started a hunger strike as he awaits his trial which could mean a prison sentence.

    The regime continues to harass bloggers, deal out unfair detentions and ill-treat prisoners of opinion as it refuses to tolerate any news outside its control. Cautious improvements introduced since Raúl Castro assumed the presidency in February 2008 stall when it comes to human rights.

    Havana has never ratified as it promised the UN Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, that includes free expression, which was signed at the official handover of power two years ago. Normalisation of relations with Cuba promoted by the Spanish presidency of the European Union should not be at the price of skating over fundamental freedoms.

    http://www.rsf.org/Dissident-journalist-arrested-in.html

  9. I GET A STRONG FEELING THAT CUBA IS WORKING TO SWAP THE US CONTRACTOR FOR “THE CUBAN FIVE” SPIES! THIS IS BEIGN TRIED BY IRAN!

    WASHINGTON POST:Ahmadinejad proposes prisoner swap for US hikers

    By NASSER KARIMI
    The Associated Press
    Tuesday, February 2, 2010; 4:07 PM

    TEHRAN — Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Tuesday proposed a prisoner swap of Iranians in U.S. prisons for three American hikers being held in Tehran.

    Ahmadinejad said in interview with state TV that there were ongoing negotiations about possibly exchanging the hikers for several Iranians jailed for years in the United States.

    “There are some talks under way to have an exchange, if it is possible,” he said. “Recently they (the U.S.) have sent messages, we answered to bring them (the Iranians), to bring these people (the hikers). We are hopeful that all prisoners will be released.”

    Ahmadinejad did not mention any specifics but in December Iran released a list of 11 Iranians it says are being held in the U.S. – including a nuclear scientist who disappeared in Saudi Arabia and a former Defense Ministry official who vanished in Turkey. The list also includes an Iranian arrested in Canada on charges of trying to obtain nuclear technology.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/02/02/AR2010020202335.html?hpid=moreheadlines

  10. Julio,

    I forgot to tell you that I have two of the items mentioned by you

    condoms, although I do not use them as a replacement for cheese in pizza toppings
    old seasoned cloth – use them to clean the sink

    As for Soy, We have plenty of it in the store as there are many lactose-intolerant fox around here. Sometimes we use soy milk it as milk replacement when I’m fasting and stay off animal products.

    We may not have Havana Club rum but the Bacardi has the same taste.

  11. Sorry Albert I have a minute as a regime defender and I already want to defect I feel sick to my stomach just to think of all the lame excuses they give me on the 26 years when I was there and that they still give all our brothers.

    Like the sky full of airplanes from Alarcon the general assembly leader as a excuse to not allowed them to travel freely.

    Or Miguel Barnet of the leader of writers union mentioning that people in Cuba can go to any place they want to because he has traveled to 30 countries! :-(

    Why does he get to travel so much?
    Is he writing a tourist guide for Cubans? :-)

    Why don’t they give some of his travels to the poor Livorio working on a farm in Pinar del Rio that is selling tabaco at very small prices and that later the regime is able to sell at 100 dollars the box? Making a profit of almost 100 percent on investment.

    Or the fisherman that captures the lobsters or the tuna fish that the leaders eat and that they also export and they are pay slave salaries?

    But that is their model of socialist justice.

    Take the money out of the hand of the poor to give it to the leaders. They need it more because they sacrifice more!

  12. Julio,

    I forgot to tell the Defenders of the Revolution that where I live I also enjoy free health care, but my family doctor makes over 100 000$ a year and he actually works only approximately 41-42 weeks a year. I can bother him with small health complaints and he will send me to a professional lab where they can trace any small imbalance of vitamins or minerals ( Actually this happened to my wife) . After some prescription and a trip to the pharmacy where I had to pay some cash ( reasonable amount), we were told by the doc that after 6 months my wife will have to go back to the lab for blood work…….FREE Again, and the lab technicians make around 30-40$/ hour.

    As for the education, put it this way. My Master Degree will be 100 % payed before my Graduation Day. I will manage to cover it with my medium-low salary. The 14 000 I invested in myself will come back in one year as I expect a better payed job once I graduate. Ohhhh, let’s not forget that probably I’ll reward myself & wife with a nice trip after graduation, maybe California, maybe DR, Jamaica or Cuba. And this not about wages, it is about the right to go where I want and when I want.

    PS: it pissed me off in Cuba to see those hotels managers eating/drinking at the buffet with all the tourists around while I was told that the rest of the staff eats different food in the basement.Equality for all ?

    And I’ll say it again…..I was watching in horror how staff ( nurses, waiters, cleaners) had to open their bags, purses at the gate where security guys looked for stolen food. It’s a freaking disgrace, concentration camp( Auschwitz ) mentality.

  13. Julio @# 15
    Yes please!
    explain to us the ignorant masses how do the turd leaders sacrifice their life for us …
    The risk of infection if they puncture their skin eating lobster, the loosening of their teeth if the bite bone in their steaka piece …
    While seating in the shade of the trees they are saving in our name.
    Yes Julio please draw a picture for me
    Teach me not to be so ingrate, unconsidered & plain ignorant, the turd father deseves more than my little thanks … :-)

  14. Forgot to mention all the replacements are not available all you want to buy
    but you will have it assign to you in the rationing book as to keep the price really low that will only consume less than the 20 dollars you get pay in a month if you work
    and you barely can consume that if you are retired with 10 dollars a month!

    And who mentioned this people will like to end state paternalism?

    If you have not read the Granma article

    you are paternalist, I am paternalistic etc..
    is a classic.

  15. Igor don’t be showing off they may reply they have many things you don’t :-)

    Like for example

    Soy yogurt as a replacement for yogurt
    ground Soy as a replacement for ground beef
    condoms as a replacement for cheese in pizza toppings
    old seasoned cloth as a replacement for steaks

    and on and on so you see, they are capable of solving the problems!

    They do not lack Water since they distribute it in car pipes instead of the normal pipes in the streets that the oxygen sent by the imperialist government of the north to corrode them and are not longer functioning properly and also because they actually need to expend the oil that Chavez sent them.

    And incidentally the reason why they used all those replacements are to save mother earth, because now they are green and join the world wide tree huger movement! Never mind that Cuba does not have any trees the whole place is a Tropical savanna!

    So do not be mistaken and think it is because they are totally unable to produce any of what you have mentioned.

    You also get “free education” never mind that you will be paying for it with the low salary they pay you until you die and that if you dare to manifest opinions contrary to what the regime think you will be consider a counter revolutionary or a CIA agent. Critical opinions are taken also the same way.

    As for education is also “free” again the same problem with the salary. Think we have in cuba doctors earning about 20 dollars a month! That is some lesson the US should learn. Probably Obama will have an easier time passing the health care bill if that is what we would pay to doctors in the US! but let us not forget the saying.
    “You get what you pay for”!

    Could write more of the goodies they have but maybe one of the defenders of the regime would like to take it from here.
    :-)

    Now that is the normal thing for those that are not in the elite.

    Should we explain now how the leaders are sacrificing themselves to eat lobsters and steaks etc on behalf of the people?

  16. Documentary film ‘¡Cuba RebelióN!’

    The documentary film ‘¡Cuba RebelióN!’ is an unusual and very outspoken portrait of the Cuban underground music scene. It’s about the punk-rock and metal musicians rebelling against the bureaucracy and imposed conformity of the Castro regime.

    By Kristina Funkeson, Freemuse

    The film gives an historical overview of music in Cuba through the musicians’ stories. It tells about how rock music was forbidden in the 1980s and how you risked going to jail for two years only by possessing the Beatles’ ‘Revolver’ LP in the 1960s. Ironically – today there is a statue of John Lennon in a park in Havana. This example illustrates the hard process and the time it can take to get your music approved by musical institutions in Cuba.

    http://www.freemuse.org/sw28926.asp

    Cuba RebelióN! – Official Trailer

  17. IGOR @#12
    Good show!

    The turd in chief & the other turds (since they own the truth) will state that you suffer from a serious case of “gusanus infectious”, contracted either by listening/reading or viewing the lies generated by the Miami Cuban mafia & or all other who are wrong.
    These groups talk because they envy the glorious results of the revolution.
    Keep in mind … “while in the subject, we are:
    repressed, spied on, exploited, lied to, scared, enslaved, monitored, abused, tortured, without rights, brainwashed but otherwise … “vamos bien”

  18. Yeah, freedom of speech and freedom to go wherever you want.

    But there is more to that. I hope the Defenders of the Revolution will salivate like Pavlov’s dog reading this. At any time when you open my fridge you’ll see at least half a gallon of milk, lots of cream, sour cream, yogurt, 1 lb of butter, 3-4 lb of many types of cheese ( parmesan, mozzarella, smoked mozzarela, havarti, cream cheese, cottage cheese) 2-3 loaves of bread,broccoli, asparagus, eggplants, tomatoes, rapini,12 eggs and many jars of pickled sundried tomatoes, , eggplant and many other delicious food. You open my freezer you see steaks, veal chops, chicken legs, shrimps, smoked salmon, pork chops. In my apartment you will also find 3-4lbs of potatoes, 5-6 lbs of pasta imported from Italy ( many brands and shapes), 2 gallons of olive oil, 1 lbs of rice and lots of sweets. In the living room I have a huge tray filled with many fruits.

    The cost of all I mentioned is around 200 $. To earn that money I work 2 days and my job does not pays well at this moment in time. All that food will feed me for 2-3 weeks.( That’s why I am in grad school which I can actually afford to pay myself, but that is a different story).

    In the bathroom I have a special shampoo and conditioner that cots 30$ for 1 Liter.
    I have 5-6 kinds of soap, liquid, bars, flavored, unflavored, 4-5 kinds of toothpaste and let’s not forget about 5-6 types of shower gel.

    I turn the TV on I I got about 100 channels plus satellite radio. If I am not happy with it I got the Internet to watch Tv Stations from any (free)country of this world. Same for listening to radio. My internet provider do not ban access to wherever I want to surf. Not even if I want to go to a Cuban site. My passport allows me to go anytime anywhere without being asked to return in 11 months. And yes, if I would like to I have the right to make a visit to the Member of the Parliament who represents me in the House of Commons and tell him that my country should advocate for Human Rights issues in Cuba. This will not send me to jail and he although the my representative might not be interested in what I am telling him but he has to listen to me and has to make a not that one of his voters came in on this day with this issue.

    Question for the Defenders of the Revolution. What in your fridge ? I bet that even there you have a billboard with Defendiendo el Socialismo and also a cool picture of Fidel reminding you about food rations. When did you use soap and shampoo last time ? What are you watching on TV beside Castro and Chavez ? When did you asked your high officials to give the chilren milk ?

  19. Julio @#10
    You force me to violate rule #8 but I’ll make amends by following #7.
    Just in case, read the rules again … then consider the last one …
    Good to hear from you Julio!

  20. And any tourist like myself… Next visit bring a couple or three newspapers to read and when you are done with them leave them to a resort worker to read…

    Also if you have any old computer parts, flash drives,video cards , dvd”s cd,s usb cords…ect bring them and give them away..

  21. Difference of opinion, healthy debates, different beliefs, the freedom of thought & of speach.
    If the present regime is right, why do these things represent a threat to it?
    So to clarify this minute problem lets review the:
    GAME RULES (by the regime)
    Every companero must follow at penalty of gusano infection!!!

    1) Must accept that the regime owns the truth
    2) Must accept that only the regime is right
    3) Must accept that everyone else is wrong
    4) Must accept that the failures are not of the regime
    5) Must accept that everyone that is against the regime is the enemy
    6) Must accept that power belongs to the regime
    7) Must accept that the people must obey
    8) Must accept that the people is always wrong

    So now that we know, lets follow the rules … :-)

  22. MIAMI HERALD:Ex-Polish President Lech Walesa to speak at Freedom Tower
    By LUISA YANEZ lyanez@MiamiHerald.com

    “Former Polish President and Nobel Peace Laureate Lech Walesa, a key player in helping bringing down communism in Eastern Europe, will be a guest speaker Tuesday at a luncheon at Miami Dade College’s Freedom Tower.

    Walesa will speak at an event called, “Empowering Change: Application for Cuba” sponsored by the Foundation for Human Rights in Cuba.

    As founder of the Solidarity Movement, Walesa led a nonviolent revolt against Poland’s communist system in the 1980s and will speak about how lessons from that movement can best be applied to support the work of civil society groups in Cuba.

    The noon event costs $100 per person.

    All proceeds will benefit the efforts of the foundation and the Lech Walesa Institute to empower Cuban dissidents through direct assistance and support.”

    http://www.miamiherald.com/news/breaking-news/story/1457196.html

  23. The Castro brothers’ regime will fall down when enough Cubans lose their fear. New technologies like cell phones, flash drive, Bluetooth, etc, will help accelerate the process.

    The low power consumption of Bluetooth communications protocol, with a short range up to 100 meters, makes it possible for devices like cell phones to communicate with each other when they are in range, allowing information to spread like wild fire. This new technology make practically impossible for the regime to control the dissemination of information.

  24. Web Site FROM THE OLD:Cuba – Dissident journalist arrested in Holguín as freedom to inform is stalled
    Monday, February 1, 2010 – 17:43

    “Cuba’s National Revolutionary Police (PNR) arrested Juan Carlos Reyes Ocaña, journalist on the small news agency Holguín Press on 29 January then took him to a police barracks to face charges of “insult”, “disobedience” and “illegal economic activity”.

    He was released the following day, but has started a hunger strike as he awaits his trial which could mean a prison sentence.
    The regime continues to harass bloggers, deal out unfair detentions and ill-treat prisoners of opinion as it refuses to tolerate any news outside its control. Cautious improvements introduced since Raúl Castro assumed the presidency in February 2008 stall when it comes to human rights.

    Havana has never ratified as it promised the UN Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, that includes free expression, which was signed at the official handover of power two years ago. Normalisation of relations with Cuba promoted by the Spanish presidency of the European Union should not be at the price of skating over fundamental freedoms.”

    “Bloggers and Internet users are also targeted for repression. Two students were expelled last month for carrying out “unauthorised” journalistic work. Darío Alejandro Paulino Escobar was excluded from Havana University for creating a page on social networking site Facebook, containing the minutes of a meeting of the Young Communists’ Union (UJC) (http://www.facebook.com/group.php?v…). The daughter of political prisoner, Félix Navarro, Saylí Navarro was expelled from Matanzas University for her work as a freelance journalist.”

    http://fromtheold.com/cuba-dissident-journalist-arrested-holgu%C3%ADn-freedom-inform-stalled-2010020116521.html

  25. How fast does the media change, how much it becomes something else before it can be controlled let alone censured.
    I can understand the fear & attraction, perhaps the proverbial light to the moth.
    The ruling turds are getting it, reluctantly but they are getting it.
    The realization and subsecuent frustration, their anger because of their inability to contain it is beginig to show.
    Is time.

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