From Lemon Juice to Encrypted Code

In the latest chapter in the Orwellian saga on television, we saw a frightened young face talking about how a tourist gave him data encryption software. Much of it, most likely, can be downloaded openly and for free from hundreds of web sites and it is use by individuals and businesses all over the world to safeguard their data from prying eyes. On this Island, however, where every gesture of privacy is interpreted as evidence of a conspiracy, to take steps so that a message or information on our computers is protected has been turned into something obscene and illegal.

Under the same premise, many of the dorms in the Schools in the Countryside had showers without curtains because covering yourself was contrary to collectivism. Reserve came to be profoundly rebellious and keeping a secret diary — where personal events were recorded — was evidence of a bourgeois attitude that ended when the “detachment commander” took your writings and read them in front of the classroom. Even today, few of my compatriots knock on a door before entering and the sport of rifling through the lives of others is not exclusive to the Committees for the Defense of the Revolution; the entire neighborhood practices it. To violate the intimate circle of a citizen has become such a common practice that no one was surprised when our small screen displayed tape recordings of the phone company’s clients, or photos of the interior of the home of some individual critic.

Now, the new “black beast” is encryption software. The military, who have spent their lives creating codes to safeguard their information, must be very upset because similar technology is now available to everyone. But this new campaign against discretion, unleashed in the official media, clashes with some of the passages in the official epic. If I remember correctly, since I was a child I’ve been told that Fidel Castro wrote with lemon juice — from prison — fragments of his plea known as History Will Absolve Me. I see no real difference between fooling the guards at the Isle of Pines prison with invisible calligraphy — which on contact with heat flowed from the pages — and the act of using TrueCrypt to protect from prying eyes. In both cases the individual knows that the repressive siege will not allow his uncamouflaged voice to travel far, convinced, as he is, that an authoritarian state will shamelessly dig into his life to snatch the last bastion of privacy and mystery that still remains.

65 thoughts on “From Lemon Juice to Encrypted Code

    an “important” aset for the cuban intelligence … gets burned for propaganda purposes; he “infiltrated” the efforts to provide internet access in Cuba via USAID.
    If you view the “documentary” prepared by the rebolution where its unique “twist” is applied, please compare it to information provided w/the other existing information already out from other that the rebolutionary sources.
    Compare the intent of the USAID cultural program contributing w/material & equipment to the “twist” supported by the constitution of Cuba (conveniently worded to limit ALL activities in dissent & disagreement to the rebolutionary regime, note while you are at it that the constitution of Cuba commits itself to the spreading of rebolutions by any means, only made legal w/the same constitution conveniently worded.
    If this is not so, please defenders & protectors of the rebolution produce proof, verifiable proof.
    As before, the rebolution’s problem in their “teisting” of information & facts does not realize that what they say will always be checked & double checked, because the rebolution’s credibility has been proved time & time again only self serving & more times than not inacurate if not down right untruthfull … yes, full of lies.

  2. Damir, so you don’t get confused … #63 is for you, don’t worry no code breaker needed to read this one.

  3. @#62
    I got it!! Iit ocurred to me to use the decoder & now I know what you are saying.
    “Yoani & all: I am a clost dissident interested in your message, waiting for every post, thank you for keeping at it.
    I want to help so you can rest, the success of your blog is that you have passed under the noses of the gods of rebolution while all cubans survive in your words of hope”

    How moving … to think I thought of you as another racist, hate mongering instigator volunteering for the rebolution’s defence & protection …

  4. I am sure that there was meant to be a message in this post by the team “yoani”.

    It is just that they are still working on it…

    Here’s my suggestion: give it a rest. Your “bloging” (this website is NOT a blog) is a failure surviving on leftovers from your “white gods” who are themselves in a load of crap.

  5. @#60
    I think you are giving to much credit to arnold, just because he is a published writer does not mean he is intelligent, just because he “sells’ himself as an expert does not mean he is.
    he is just a pseudo intellectual w/a sense of guilt, who made up his mind of becoming an expert by spending some time in guided tours of rebolutionary cuba.
    Safe in his knowledge that after his “investigative tour” is over … he’ll be back home, enjoying all the freedoms he criticizes yet he uses by right.

  6. I read Arnold’s propaganda piece also. Whether you believe he is deluded or a professional liar, there is no doubt that his work on behalf of the Cuban government exceeds by thousands of times anything Gross could imagine doing in Cuba. Yet, no 15 years in prison for Arnold, not even 15 minutes, not even an arrest, not even a phone tap, not even the slightest interest in him on the part of the Canadian government. Instead, total freedom to say and write anything he wants, no matter how absurd and hate-filled.

    Yet he can’t stand the thought of giving Cubans the smallest amount of freedom. Why does he hate Cubans so much? Is it because they don’t think like him? Does he want Canada to adopt the Cuban model, where everyone who disagrees with Arnold is sent to prison?

  7. Good article arnold, well written, but in it are only your platitudes & declaration which is your opinion which.
    I hope you are not taking it for granted … you right of free speech even if it contradicts the goverment you live under.
    Cubans do not have the right to disagree w/the goverment they live under so all your postulations & platitudes are just that …

  8. MIAMI HERALD- OUR OPINION:Cuba’s cynical maneuver- No improvement in U.S.-Cuba relations until Alan Gross is free

    The 15-year verdict handed down by a Cuban “court” against U.S. citizen Alan Gross is the deeply unjust result of events that bear no relationship to due process in an impartial legal system. Let’s call this cynical maneuver what it really is — blackmail.

    The 61-year-old Mr. Gross is not a criminal of any sort. He’s a chess piece manipulated by the Cuban regime in the relentless war against its own people. The Castro brothers want to stop ordinary Cubans from obtaining the slightest bit of information from the outside world from any independent source. Punishing this envoy from a private U.S. company financed by a grant from the U.S. Agency for International Development is a convenient way to deter further efforts to circumvent Cuba’s extensive system of communications surveillance.

    Satellite phones are increasingly common instruments used to make calls around the world. But not in the Orwellian world run by Fidel and Raúl Castro and their paranoid minions. In Cuba, a satellite phone like the one Mr. Gross is accused of carrying for use by the island’s tiny and impoverished Jewish community is deemed a dangerous weapon in an alleged “cyber war” being waged by the U.S. government to bolster a web of spies plotting to bring down the government.

    In most any other country, a violation of customs regulations might result in a stiff fine and possible expulsion from the country. In Cuba, where the state controls all information outlets, violations that threaten the state’s hegemony are seen as crimes that endanger the security of the state.

    The real target of this mock-judicial charade is the “pro-democracy” funding from USAID designed to promote Cuba’s budding civil society movement. People who can think for themselves, talk to each other and learn from each other without government intrusion represent a danger to the state’s tyrannical masters, which practice various forms of mind control designed to snuff out any kind of independent action.

    At a minimum, the punitive actions against Mr. Gross should throw a splash of cold water on what some call the warming in relations between Washington and Havana. He should be released unconditionally and immediately. As long as Alan Gross remains in jail, there can be no improvement in U.S.-Cuba relations.

    President Obama came to office saying his administration would respond positively to an unclenched fist from previously hostile governments. We doubt that the mistreatment of Alan Gross by the Cuban government is what he had in mind as an appropriate response.

    Oscar Elías Biscet, a longtime dissident, was released by the Cuban government last week after enduring years of suffering following an arrest in 2003 for the crime of speaking out against the government. His release is gratifying to his many admirers in and out of Cuba, but it doesn’t change the fact that the physician should never have been imprisoned to begin with.

    On Monday, the courageous Mr. Biscet called the Castro regime a “total dictatorship” that fears an informed citizenry. The actions against Alan Gross prove his point.


    “The Cuban Five are unjustly imprisoned for more than twelve years in the US for defending Cuba against terrorist activities which violate in the most flagrant, violent and cruel manner Cuba’s sovereign right to be a nation on its own. This world-wide demand for the freedom of the Cuban Five is thus also part of Cuba’s right to self-determination and sovereignty.”

    – Arnold August

  10. The Gross Case: Why Not Cuba? by Arnold August

    As soon as the sentence was announced on Saturday, March 12, the establishment media, and US officials both in Washington and at the US Interests Section in Havana, went on the offensive once again in a new disinformation campaign and media war against Cuba.
    To read more:


    YOUTUBE: Biscet reafirma su posición de continuar lucha pacífica en #cuba


    CNN: Cuba keeps its eye on Middle East uprisings
    The recent uprisings in the Middle East have stirred up often surprising emotions and fears in Cuba, where brothers Fidel and Raul Castro have ruled for more than 50 years.

    Cuban dissidents were quick to champion the cause of the young protesters in Tunisia and Egypt while exiles wondered out loud if Cuba’s communist government wouldn’t be the next to fall.

    Prominent blogger Yoani Sanchez followed the events with daily tweets. On the day Hosni Mubarak fled, she declared: “Right now I feel like I’m in Cairo. I am shouting and celebrating with them. I call all my friends to say: there is one less dictator!”

    The government she so frequently criticizes also threw its support behind the “revolutionary rebellion” in Egypt, comparing protesters to the ragtag rebels led by former president Fidel Castro in 1959.

    When Mubarak fell, Castro hailed the “defeat of the United States’ principal ally in the bosom of Arab countries” in one of his “Reflections” published in state media and read aloud on television.

    Libya, however, is a different story. From the beginning, Castro denounced what he says is an imminent U.S.-backed invasion of Libya by NATO as a “crime against the people.”

    He says it is too soon to pass judgment on his old ally Moammar Gadhafi and accuses the Western press of spreading lies.

    Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez delivered a more nuanced analysis to the Human Rights Council, calling the situation a civil war, but insisting on the need to prevent foreign intervention.

    “Cuba fully shares the world’s concern for the loss of civilian lives in Libya and hopes that its people find a peaceful solution,” he said. “Cuba categorically rejects any attempt to take advantage of the tragic situation to occupy the country and control its oil.”

    Cuban dissidents – mostly small, divided groups – have condemned Gadhafi, but even they say that Cuba is far from following suit.

    In a recent interview, the blogger Sanchez told CNN she identified with the protesters in Egypt: “The dissatisfaction of the people and a single voice in power for so long – that’s why I was so enthusiastic about what was happening there.”

    But she sees big differences, for example, in Cuba’s low internet penetration. Recent figures show an estimated 1.6 million people are internet users, out of a population of 11.2 million and even fewer use Facebook or Twitter.

    “The fact that my tweets can’t be read by the vast majority of the population is a big limitation,” she said.

    Still, a video that appeared on the web last month suggests the Cuban government considers the internet the new battlefield in its war with U.S.-backed dissidents.

    In what appears to be a government intelligence briefing, a speaker declares: “We aren’t fighting the new technology. We simply have to get to know it and use it in our favor, but also know what the enemy is doing.”

    In the end, most Cubans are much less interested in political activism and events in the Middle East than they are in trying to benefit from sweeping economic changes being implemented by the government.

    Perhaps a sign of that was a Facebook campaign organized by Cuban exiles urging people to stage a protest in front of the Museum of the Revolution last month.

    The only people who showed up were a handful of foreign journalists and a few men snapping their pictures.

  13. HUMAN RIGHTS FOUNDATION: Cuba’s Black Spring: HRF demands amnesty for Oscar Elías Biscet and all paroled prisoners of conscience; After his release, Biscet tells HRF he’s in a bigger prison now

    NEW YORK (March 14, 2011) – Following the release of prisoner of conscience Oscar Elías Biscet from prison, the Human Rights Foundation (HRF) demands amnesty for him and for all the prisoners of conscience of Cuba’s Black Spring who have rejected exile to Spain and have instead been released on parole in Cuba.

    “I know I’m leaving a small prison for the big prison that is Cuba. Yet I’m very happy and very thankful to God, because after so many years, I go back to my wife here at home,” said Biscet during a telephone call with HRF on March 13.

    Last Friday, after eight years of imprisonment, Biscet was released under an “extra penitentiary license”—a form of parole established in Cuba’s Criminal Code. According to this provision, Biscet will continue to serve his 25-year sentence outside of prison, as long as he shows “good conduct.”

    “I am a defender of life and liberty, and on those two values I base all that I do,” Biscet told HRF. “I refused to leave Cuba because I’ve pledged never to abandon it until I achieve my objectives—democracy and freedom for Cuba.”

    Between February 1998 and November 1999, Biscet was detained 27 times by state agents in Cuba. In 2003, during what would be remembered as Cuba’s Black Spring, Biscet was detained, summarily tried, and sentenced to 25 years in prison for engaging in “acts against the independence and territorial integrity of the state.”

    “Prisoners of conscience are not criminals. They are courageous men and women who have been imprisoned for peacefully defying a despotic government,” said Thor Halvorssen, president of HRF. “A common criminal may be granted parole to serve the remainder of his sentence out of a prison cell. But a prisoner of conscience’s only crime is refusing to bow before a tyrant. They all deserve amnesty,” Halvorssen stated.

    On February 13, 2011, prisoners of conscience Héctor Maseda and Ángel Moya, who also rejected forced exile to Spain, were released on parole in Cuba. They are, respectively, the husbands of Laura Pollán and Berta Soler—both of whom are leaders of the Ladies in White.

    “I will continue doing what I’ve done until now—I’m a dissident, I’m an independent journalist, I oppose this government and I will not stop opposing it,” said Maseda on the day of his release. “The fight will continue. If we have to go to prison, we will return there because we’re fighting for a just cause. We are not criminals, or drug dealers—we’re peaceful fighters striving for freedom,” Moya stated that day.

    According to Cuba’s Criminal Code, if the Cuban government were to grant amnesty to all prisoners of conscience, as HRF demands, they would become legally free, as this measure would “extinguish” their “criminal responsibility,” as well as “the sentence and all its effects.”

    “The stance taken by Maseda, Moya, and Biscet, raises a profound feeling of admiration in all of us. Yet, it doesn’t surprise us,” said Halvorssen. “A conditional release is better than jail for almost everyone, except for prisoners of conscience. For these heroes, a totalitarian society is already a prison, and jail is a price they are willing to pay in order to gain their freedom.”

    In 2003, Burmese Nobel Peace Laureate and prisoner of conscience Aung San Suu Kyi said, “It is ironic, I say, that in an authoritarian state it is only the prisoner of conscience who is genuinely free. Yes, we have given up our right to a normal life. But we have stayed true to that most precious part of our humanity—our conscience.”

    As he closed his call with HRF, Biscet said, “We ask the international community, and all persons living in free and democratic countries, to help us pressure the Cuban government so that Daniel Ferrer, Librado Linares, and Félix Navarro can also be released.”

    Ferrer, Linares, and Navarro are the three Black Spring prisoners of conscience that remain incarcerated in Cuba. As of today, eight have been released on parole after rejecting exile. They are Pedro Argüelles, Diosdado González, Iván Hernández, Guido Sigler, Eduardo Díaz Fleitas, Héctor Maseda, Ángel Moya, and Oscar Elías Biscet.

    In September 2010, HRF released an exclusive video of the Ladies in White that relates the story of how the group formed following the Black Spring government crackdown, and discusses events that have brought international attention to Cuba’s prisoners of conscience.

    HRF is an international nonpartisan organization devoted to defending human rights in the Americas. It centers its work on the twin concepts of freedom of self-determination and freedom from tyranny. These ideals include the belief that all human beings have the rights to speak freely, to associate with those of like mind, and to leave and enter their countries. Individuals in a free society must be accorded equal treatment and due process under law, and must have the opportunity to participate in the governments of their countries; HRF’s ideals likewise find expression in the conviction that all human beings have the right to be free from arbitrary detainment or exile and from interference and coercion in matters of conscience. HRF does not support nor condone violence. HRF’s International Council includes former prisoners of conscience Vladimir Bukovsky, Palden Gyatso, Václav Havel, Mutabar Tadjibaeva, Ramón J. Velásquez, Elie Wiesel, and Harry Wu.

    Contact: Pedro Pizano, Human Rights Foundation, (212) 246.8486,

  14. REUTERS: Cuba devalues convertible peso by 8 percent-By Marc Frank-Mon Mar 14,
    HAVANA (Reuters) – Cuba has devalued its convertible peso by 8 percent in a move aimed at attracting more foreign exchange and stimulating exports, according to a central bank resolution published on Monday in the official daily Granma.

    The convertible peso (CUC) had been valued at $1.08 since 2005, but will now be valued one-to-one.

    “This decision is a discrete step toward an improved balance of foreign exchange … and will help improve conditions in our foreign financial relations,” the resolution stated.

    Foreign and local economists welcomed the devaluation.

    “This is a very important measure that Cuban economists and foreign experts on Cuba have been recommending for years,” said Cuban-American economist Carmelo Mesa-Lago, a professor emeritus at the University of Pittsburgh.

    “It should reduce the significant overestimation of the CUC that causes all kinds of distortions, make cheaper tourism for Cuban Americans, Americans and Latin American countries in the dollar area, and stimulate sending of remittances,” he said.

    Cuba is just now emerging from a grave liquidity crisis that began at the close of 2008 and saw it freeze hundreds of millions of dollars in foreign company bank accounts on the grounds that it did not have the foreign exchange to meet the CUC deposits.

    The bank said hurricanes in 2008, the international economic crisis and “volatility in monetary markets” led to the decision “to establish parity between the convertible peso and U.S. dollar.”

    Though most of the money has since been paid out or payment agreements signed, the freezing of foreign accounts destroyed confidence in the CUC and state banks. Most companies now do their business offshore.

    Foreign companies that do business with the island have long complained the CUC was overvalued.

    Cuba has a dual monetary system which pegs the peso at 24 pesos sell, and 25 pesos buy, to the convertible peso.

    The resolution said the domestic exchange rate remained unchanged, as did the one-to-one exchange rate used for business accounting purposes.

    Neither the CUC nor peso are recognized currencies outside of Cuba.

    The resolution said another reason for the decision was “restrictions on the accounts that we were obliged to impose at the end of 2008 continue to be lifted.”

    Cuban President Raul Castro drastically reduced imports in 2009 and 2010, while promoting exports and import substitution, to deal with the financial crisis.

    Cuba’s trade balance, including services, was $3.9 billion in 2010, according to the government, compared with $2 billion in 2009 and a deficit of $2.3 billion in 2008.

    The measure will be welcomed by foreign tourists and Cubans who receive remittances from abroad. A 10 percent tax on dollars remains in effect, however, due to the U.S. embargo that makes it difficult for the government to use the greenbacks.

    “There is no doubt the measure will benefit tourists and Cubans who receive remittances from abroad,” an employee at the headquarters of the state-run Cuban exchange company, CADECA, said, asking that her name not be used.

    “The amount taken when money is exchanged is less now. Before, for every $100 you gave a client 80 CUC, and now for every $100 you give the client 87.10 CUC,” she said.

    (Additional reporting by Nelson Acosta; Editing by Jeff Franks and Leslie Adler)

  15. Czech Position.COM: ‘Better to live in a slum’ than in Cuba-Either you’re a part of the Castro clan and their hangers on or you don’t have a chance, says Cuban dissident Yoani Sánchez
    Since the fall of Communism in 1989, the Czech Republic has made helping dissidents in repressive regimes a foreign policy priority with Cuba and Belarus front and center; the first Cuban political prisoner granted political asylum in this country, Rolando Jiménez Posada, arrived with his family and relatives in October 2010.

    Independent Cuban journalist Yoani Sánchez, 35, didn’t want to become a dissident. She was more the technical type, with an interest in computers, and after earning a degree in philology left for Switzerland to study computer science. The strict Cuban authorities gave her permission to travel and return home afterward — which shows that the regime didn’t consider her to be a threat or likely dissident.

    After returning home to Havana, however, Yoani set up the magazine Consenso and has since become probably the best-known writer of electronic samizdat in the island nation. She also writes the blog Generation Y, which has earned her several international awards; she wasn’t able to accept them in person as the Cuban authorities have confiscated her passport.

    Last year, Yoani was kidnapped by Cuban agents and mentally and physically abused for several hours. But that didn’t stop her from writing, and at the end of February the official Cuban media began to get publicly engaged in her struggle, making the general public aware of her. She has been twice quoted and accused on television and she was once in the state daily Granma.

    Sánchez points out that her entire island nation has been virtually cut off from the Internet since the start of the unrest in Libya — most likely because the Castro family is worried that Cubans will start an uprising similar to those in the Arab world — and the following interview was interrupted several times due to disruptions the connectivity.

    Q: What is lacking for a revolution similar to the one in Egypt taking place in Cuba?
    A: In Cuba the situation is most like that in Libya rather than the other Arab countries that are undergoing unrest. Our system and country is also dependent on one charismatic and popular leader.


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