How Do You Tame Computer Users?

User on Revolico, the Cuban “Craigslist” (Silvia Corbelle, 14ymedio)

Generation Y, Yoani Sanchez, Havana, 18 May 2015 – Nimble fingers over the keyboard, a life divided between reality and the digital world, plus the gratification of amusing yourself, learning, teaching and being free through technology. These are some of the points shared by those of us in Cuba who have linked ourselves to information and communication technologies, whether for professional reasons or simply from personal passion. Now, a new association is trying to support these enthusiasts of circuits and screens, although the management of the organization proposes many limits on autonomy and ideological ties.

The new Computer Users Union of Cuba (UIC) will enjoy the official recognition that has been lacking until now for independent groups of bloggers, gamers and programmers. It will have statutes, a code of ethics and members will be able to rely on support and visibility through its structure. Nor is there any doubt that at the next international event where “pro-governmental civil society” appears — in the manner of the Summit of the Americas — the new affiliates of the UIC will attend.

If the promoters of these activities, in whatever part of the world, want to know how a pretend non-governmental organization is generated, they should pay attention to the details of the genesis of the new organization that will bring together Cubans engaged in new technologies. It will be an excellent opportunity not to see “a star being born,” but to witness how a black hole is created that that will seek to engulf one of the wildest, freest phenomenon parallel to power in Cuban society today.

They will try to engulf one of the wildest, freest phenomenon parallel to power in Cuban society today

The process for signing up for the UIC will be open until July 15. Applicants must submit the registration form, a photocopy of their academic degree, and sign a letter accepting the draft Bylaws and Code of Ethics, which first must be downloaded from the Ministry of Communication’s website. It is surprising that at this point the organizing committee which emerged from the entity’s constituent congress – despite its undeniable technological capabilities – doesn’t have its own digital site. It would have required a “civilian” portal that does not include “” in its internet address, because that would identify it as subject to the government… not as an NGO.

The UIC defines itself as an organization with a professional profile, with both voluntary and at the same time select affiliation, created under Article 7 of the Constitution of the Republic of Cuba. A glance at this part of the Constitution clarifies that these organizations “represent their specific interests and incorporate them into the task of edification, consolidation and defense of the Socialist society.” As if that isn’t enough, the president of the organizing committee, Allyn Febles, who is also vice rector of the University of Information Sciences, told reporters that “the new organization has as a base the unity of it members in support of the social project of the Cuban Revolution.”

An attempt, no doubt, to assign a political color to kilobytes, tweets and apps. As if they felt the need to demarcate the limits of technologies starting from Party considerations. Why are they so crude? Why isn’t it possible to create a Union of Cuban Computer Users dedicated to teaching the population to use the tools that allow them to more freely and easily access new technologies? Why do they have to interpose themselves between the keyboard and the social networks, and not just from any ideology but from a particular sectarian and exclusionary ideology?

The restrictions don’t end there. In its introduction, the ethics code defines a priori computer users as “committed to our Socialist Revolution…” while in Article 3 it imposes maintaining conduct “in accord with the norms and principles of our Socialist society.” The situation worsens, because Article 13 of the code itself imposes on the UIC members the obligation to inform on colleagues who incur offenses. Rather than an entity to preserve the rights to technology enthusiasts, it is creating an oversight body to control them.

It is expected that the members of the UIC will put intolerance ahead of information sciences, being soldiers ahead of being internauts…

Like a ghost of the past, the little check box of “political membership” reappears on the application form for admission to the UIC, where the applicant must put checkmarks next to organizations such as the Communist Party, the Young Communist Union or… the Federation of Cuban Women, the Committees for the Defense of the Revolution, and the Cuban Workers Center. Which contradicts the official spokespeople who shout themselves hoarse saying that these latter three are not political but rather social entities. Which is it?

The nice part of the UIC’s founding documents is where they warn that the UIC “will be working to create a climate of scientific and technical creation and for the elevation of its members to a professional level and a permanent technological upgrade, encouraging the identification and the recording of the knowledge of its associates and their preparation and fitness to undertake specific projects, as well and the identification of opportunities to impact the economic development of the country and the exporting of goods and services, and in this way contributing to an increase in the welfare of its members.”

But why, in order to receive these undeniable benefits, must they show political obedience and loyalty? The answer is simple: because it is expected that the members of the UIC will put intolerance ahead of information sciences, being soldiers ahead of being internauts… being censors ahead of being young people who play with binary code.

42 thoughts on “How Do You Tame Computer Users?

  1. So tourists can definitely contribute to Cubans improving their lives, using homestay and private goods and services instead of govt ones…

  2. The U.S. military, aiming to improve connectivity at the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base, is building a new $31 million fiber-optic cable line between Cuba from Florida that is set to begin operating at the end of 2015, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Southern Command said.

    The cable will eventually provide Internet to the rest of the island, Ronald Bechtold, a former chief information officer at the Pentagon, testified in September 2013, months after secret rapprochement talks between the U.S. and Cuba began. “It’s not going to be for the base, it’s going to be for the entire island in anticipation that one day that they’ll be able to extend it into mainland Cuba,” Mr. Bechtold said. The cable will be “a gigantic bundle,” of which only some fibers will serve military needs, he said.

    There are probably many reasons that US households have so few choices for Internet service, but not least among them is the fact that starting a new ISP is really difficult, and expensive to boot.

    Millions of Americans would gladly switch from their DSL or cable Internet service to fiber, which in many cities delivers speeds of 1Gbps. That’s 250 times faster than the 4Mbps download bandwidth that qualifies as “broadband” under the Federal Communications Commission definition. As of Dec. 2012, 29 percent of US households lived in census tracts with one or zero providers offering fixed Internet service of at least 6Mbps, according to FCC data. While the other 71 percent of census tracts had at least two providers offering 6Mbps, they may not offer that speed to all households in each area, the FCC said. Cable and DSL dominate nationally, with fiber-to-the-premises accounting for only 6.7 million out of 92.6 million fixed connections of at least 200Kbps.

    Seems like a huge market opportunity, right? But actually starting a new Internet service is no simple task.

    A new fiber provider needs a slew of government permits and construction crews to bring fiber to homes and businesses. It needs to buy Internet capacity from transit providers to connect customers to the rest of the Internet. It probably needs investors who are willing to wait years for a profit because the up-front capital costs are huge. If the new entrant can’t take a sizable chunk of customers away from the area’s incumbent Internet provider, it may never recover the initial costs. And if the newcomer is a real threat to the incumbent, it might need an army of lawyers to fend off frivolous lawsuits designed to put it out of business.

  4. THE ECONOMIST: Cuba and the internet – Wired, at last – Mar 3rd 2011 ACCORDING to government figures, only 3% of Cubans frequently use the internet, making the communist island the least connected place in the Americas. Those that do require patience: according to an industry survey, Cuba’s dial-up internet access is the world’s second-slowest, after Mayotte, a French territory in the Indian Ocean. Under the guise of rationing the use of bandwidth, internet access is banned in most private homes and censored in offices. In 2009 Barack Obama authorised American companies to provide internet services to the island. But Cuba showed no interest in exploring the possibility. Instead it turned to its ally and benefactor, Venezuela.


    DYN RESEARCH: Cuba-Jamaica Link Activated – May 20, 2013

    In January, we reported the news that the ALBA-1 submarine cable connecting Cuba to Venezuela had started carrying Internet traffic two years after its construction, answering the question of what happened to the mysterycable to Cuba.In the last week, we have observed a second non-satellite connection established for Cuban state telecom, ETECSA. This time a different segment of the ALBA-1 submarine cable is being used to connect Cuba to the neighboring island nation of Jamaica. At 15:04 UTC on 13 May 2013, we observed ETECSA beginning to receive international Internet service through Cable & Wireless Jamaica.
    The graphic on the right shows the make up of Internet transit providers used by ETECSA to reach the global Internet since 1 January 2013. Telefonica showed up on 10 January when ALBA-1 began carrying Internet traffic. C&W Jamaica appears in yellow on 13 May. There is a brief dip in the Telefonica plot as ALBA-1 was offline for about eight hours on 15 March and for two hours on 17 March, something we tweeted.This past March, C&W Caribbean listed Cuba as one of the markets they planned to enter and fulfill the relationship signed three years prior when C&W Jamaica signed a partnership withthe company established to oversee the ALBA-1 cable project, Cuban-Venezuelan joint venture Telecomunicaciones Gran Caribe (TGC).Two weeks ago, I had the opportunity to present at LACNIC 19 in Medellin, Colombia. While there, I was able to speak to a manager from ETECSA. He said he and his staff had seen our blogs from January and confirmed that we were right about the initial asymmetric traffic misconfiguration of ALBA-1, which they fixed after a couple of days. It was pleasure to meet some of the people involved with this historic activation.

  6. CLAPWAY: What I Wish I’d Known About Traveling to Cuba
    It is therefore in your best interest to bring in as much cash as you will require for stay. I suggest bringing in currency other than the USD (such as euros or pounds) if you wish to get best value for money. Money exchange or cambio will charge 10% of your exchange value if you choose to exchange USD. This does not apply for other currencies.

    The general price for a homestay is 30 CUC per night which will include a room with 3 beds. The price is per room, so if you find other tourists to share with the price can be dropped to as little as 10 CUC per person for an occupied 3 bed room. There are also a handful of ‘hostels’ available which essentially operate in the same manner as a homestay on a slightly larger scale with rooms full of bunks.

    It is also worth noting that the people of Cuba are poor and you help to support them financially by choosing a more authentic stay such as a homestay rather than opting for a hotel. They are taxed 80-90% of their earnings from your stay and actually take home very small amounts from the cost of your accommodation. By paying for meals or drinks from your casa you can better support their income as it is my understanding that this money goes straight into their pocket. The Cuban people are extremely friendly and welcoming and you will not regret choosing to stay with a local family.

  7. A lot of people seem to think that this Cuba thing is all about negotiations regarding embassy and ambassador, and the embargo, and Rep/Dem US politics. What it’s really about right now is that Cubans can see an end to misery and coming prosperity…

  8. Neutral Observer: the Helms-Burton Act has to be taken out of the books in the United States. Cuba is still under the danger of a pre-emptied military attack from the United States. This is what every Cuban American in exile should be demanding from Marco Rubio, Menendez and Ted Cruz nothing less. If they believe in the fundamental philosophy of our form of governance as the American People do, they should demand removal of this act of imperialism and oppression against the Cuban People. Then and only then can the Cuban People have the support of the World community to determine how and who should have the helm of Cuba.

  9. Neutral Observer: (from the NCTA)
    The main barrier that impedes broadband uptake across poorer counties is twofold says Best. It’s partly due to a lack of developed infrastructure, but it’s also boils down to the cost of a connection.
    the question, how exactly is a country’s internet infrastructure handled? Does it come down to the hardware used? Whether more users are connected via Dial-up, DSL, ADSL, cable, etc? Whether the ISPs within the country are using SONET connections, what kind and how much fiber optics, etc.? Does it come down to how much bandwidth is being purchased by the consumers from the Tier 3 ISPs? What about how much bandwidth is being purchased by the ISPs upstream? If a country wants to revamp their internet infrastructure do they go to somebody? Do Tier 1 networks get involved? What kind of costs are considered and how are they calculated?

    NEUTRAL OBSERVER: CUBA BEING A GOOD GLOBAL CITIZEN TODAY, PROBABLY HAS SIGNED UP TO COMMIT TO THIS UNITED NATION GOALS FOR INTERNET SERVICE. The cost of the equipment is high for a country it is not for free. Providing the Cuban People with computers, etc. is the easy part.

    UN Broadband Commission’s goal of entry-level broadband services priced at less than 5 percent of average monthly income. The Affordability Report, released last month by the Alliance for Affordable Internet Internet (A4AI), a consortium of private companies and public sector organizations dedicated to bringing Internet costs down through policy change, found that in at least 46 countries “the cost of entry-level broadband services exceeds 40 percent of monthly income for people living under $2/day, and in many countries exceeds 80 percent or even 100 percent of monthly income”
    A4AI’s Policy & Regulatory Best Practices are the start of a consensus about how countries escape this access trap, but coordinating multiple efforts towards a beneficial public outcome remains a challenge. For example, policy makers can drive demand by making broadband relevant to people living in poor communities. Perhaps the best way to achieve this is to update the governance of critical public services, such as health, education and water, for the mobile broadband era. Cloud-based solutions such as Form Hub can help teams more effectively deliver clean water and health services working across massive geographical areas. As public services drive people to adopt mobile broadband, the private sector will likely develop and offer services to meet the needs of new users, including poorer communities.

    Further, policy makers can take steps to lower the cost, and thus the risk, of investing in under-served communities. Google’s Project Link is providing an open access fiber-optic network around Kampala, Uganda, to help Internet service providers reach end users with faster speeds at lower prices. Policy makers can play a similar role by building the Internet into other basic infrastructure. For example, fiber ducts can be built into roads, easing negotiations with local authorities for advanced services such as fiber to the home. Many developing countries also have extensive under-utilized spectrum, which can lead to much faster, much cheaper mobile broadband in rural communities.

    We still have much to learn about which policies are most effective at which stages of a country’s Internet infrastructure development. However, we know the stakes couldn’t be higher. McKinsey recently found that the Internet could contribute $300 billion to Africa’s economy by 2025. The A4AI Affordability Report makes it clear that many countries still have a long way to go to realize these social and economic gains, but that governments can make decisions now to ensure a broadband-enabled future comes much more quickly.

  10. Omar,

    Internet access costs the Cuban government nothing.

    Since 2009 the US government and US telecom companies have been begging Castro to let them do business with Cubans.

    It would cost Castro nothing. It would create opportunities for small Cuban business, increase the wealth of all Cubans, and give Cubans fast reliable internet and phone service.

    Castro has refused all offers.

    Computers cost the government nothing. They cost Cubans nothing.

    There are charities and big multinationals that give away computers for free.

    US relatives and tourists have left behind hundreds of thousands of computers in Cuba. They just can’t use the internet.

    With wireless technology Cuba could be wired up with high speed access in months for absolutely nothing, if only Castro says yes.

    Castro is probably blackmailing the US for more concessions before he allows the internet in.

    This is the same idiot in chief who refused to let his consulates deal with US banks for a whole year and pretending it was because of an imaginary US embargo.

    All the while there were 50 US banks offering their services and Castro was just blackmailing the US for more concessions.

  11. Neutral Observer: Your logic is terrible. Cuba can dedicate more resources to facilitate more access to computers and internet in Cuba. I think this type of investment ranks very high in priority for the country. But, it is more important to have sound financial metrics. I don’t know if you had a chance to see what I posted about Venezuela. Maduro’s government made high priority to pay back 50% of Venezuela’s debt to China over improving the economic conditions of the people in Venezuela. The United States allowed the inequality in the country to increase and placed Americans in the poor house to bring the budget of the United States within the financial metrics needed for good governance. Good financial governance outranks in priority over the quality of life of people all over the World the same way.

  12. Brilliant thinking Omar.

    200 years ago 0% of US citizens had the internet. Now Castro has the internet. Thank you Castro for inventing the internet.

  13. I was reading statistics from the Census Bureau about computer use in the U.S. In 1984, only 8.4% of the population had computers at home. By 2011, that number had increased to 75.6% (home internet service about the same %). In other words, it took almost 30 years for so many Americans to have internet and computers at home. I bring this up, because people that criticize how slow Cuba is in introducing these technologies have really no basis for their complaint. As you can see if it took almost 30 years for 76% of Americans to have this technology ( A country with an annual GDP of 16.7/8 Trillion dollars and an average salary of 60000/70000 per household). It is fair to say that for Cubans to achieve the same number of households with computers and internet can take twice as long. (unless Cuba finds more oil in its territorial waters or patent a series of major drugs and medical procedures or Venezuela starts getting $80/barrel of oil again)…


    USA TODAY: Senators question wisdom of Obama’s Cuba policy – by Alan Gomez

    WASHINGTON — President Obama’s top negotiator with Cuba was grilled during a tense Senate hearing Wednesday, as senators doubted whether the normalization of relations with the island would change its communist government.

    U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Roberta Jacobson was repeatedly asked how the re-establishment of diplomatic relations would end Cuba’s dismal human rights record, its lack of free elections and other injustices against the Cuban people.

    Jacobson argued that having Americans operating more broadly in Cuba — diplomatically, economically and as regular visitors — would help the Cuban people reach a point where they could determine their own futures. She acknowledged that despite months of negotiations, the Cuban government has not promised any specific changes.

    “We’re not sure what the Cuban government will do in the face of these things,” Jacobson told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. “I think they’re still absorbing our changes and making their own policy decisions.”

    Wednesday’s hearing came on the eve of the fourth round of diplomatic talks between Jacobson and her Cuban counterparts at the U.S. State Department. Jacobson said she was hopeful that could result in a final agreement to reopen embassies in Havana and Washington after 54 years of isolation.


    If the answer to these questions continues to be yes – and it most likely is – then the recent public debate brought on by Edward Snowden’s disclosures is far more mundane, and far less sensational than the media would perhaps like it to be. Also In that case, the real issue set boils down to the following set of key questions, best answered by our Congress – specifically the Intelligence committees working with some other key committees – after a searching inquiry and a series of hearings, as many of them open as possible.
    • Were the established and relevant laws, regulations and procedures complied with?
    • Are the established laws, regulations and procedures up to date for current Internet and other technologies?
    • Is there reason to add new laws, regulations and procedures?
    • Is there a continued requirement – based on public safety – to be able to do intrusive surveillance, including Internet surveillance, against spies, terrorists or criminals?

    In sum, the idea that we have somehow “betrayed” or “subverted” the Internet (or the telephone for that matter) is – as my mom also used to say – “just plain silly.” Such kinds of inaccurate statements are emotional and intended mostly for an audience with preconceived opinions or that hasn’t thought very hard about the dangerous consequences of an Internet totally immune from surveillance. In fact, it seems time for far less sensationalism – primarily by the media – and far more objectivity. In the final analysis, my mom probably had it right: “Those kind of people, sure”.

    Daniel Gallington is the senior policy and program adviser at the George C. Marshall Institute in Arlington, Va. He served in senior national security policy positions in the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the Department of Justice, and as bipartisan general counsel for the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.


    First , if we knew, based on reliable information or sources – a human source for example – that Internet user X was in fact engaged in espionage, terrorism or criminal activity, it seems clear that our systemshould enable intrusive surveillance of X’s Internet usage, just as it would X’s telephone. Also, it would seem reasonable to also look at whom X was communicating with, if only to see if the communications were routine – e.g., to order a pizza – or if they were to someone else engaged in espionage, terrorism or criminal activity or were somehow related to those activities.

    Second , assuming it were technically possible to somehow sort through huge amounts of Internet traffic, by using key words or other kinds of data in some kind of search engine, and if there were several layers of review, including human review, in such a process, could it then be reasonable to selectively look at the content of the traffic, provided such was also 1) approved by a judge or a senior official, and 2) was allowed for only a limited period of time, and 3) was subject to periodic review? This kind of examination may not necessarily require the identity of the communicators, until and unless such was approved by an additional/similar process that required a specific approval.

    Would such an approach to looking at Internet traffic for spies, terrorists and criminals be 1) reasonable 2) constitutional, and could it be established by public law and implemented by executive order and regulation, provided the Congress was kept in the loop with regular oversight reporting?

    It seems reasonable to conclude that: 1) The expectation of Internet privacy does not, should not – never has and never should – extend to spies, terrorist and criminals; 2) Our government should be monitoring the communications of these people, whether they are encrypted or not (and perhaps especially if they are); and 3) Our main focus, therefore, should be on how, who and on what basis (or threshold) a determination is made to look at a particular Internet communication or category of communications, and how this determination is monitored and by who.

    Now, we’re getting somewhere, and I would invite my colleague Mr. Schneier and the ACLU (for whom I have the utmost respect) to comment more specifically on this aspect of the equation, rather than merely asserting that the government has somehow “betrayed,” “subverted” or “undermined” the Internet. Frankly, such assertions are not helpful in the current debate, primarily because they don’t address the reasons and thresholds for surveillances, nor the oversight of the processes for it in our democracy.

    two key policy questions emerge from this discussion and the technical realities of today’s Internet:
    • First, do all of us, including the spies, terrorists and kidnappers among us, have a reasonable expectation of privacy when we use the Internet today? And to what extent, if any, have the various democratic governments betrayed the modern day realities of the Internet by their various degrees of monitoring?
    • Second, what effect – if any – on the expectation of privacy should efforts to encrypt Internet communications have? In other words, when someone encrypts their Internet communications, are they somehow entitled to more privacy or does it make the Internet less secure because of the government’s possible need to decrypt it, for one reason or another, good or bad. Even more fundamental perhaps – and not intended to be silly – should spies, terrorists and kidnappers be able to encrypt their communications with the expectation of privacy?

    It would seem that, in turn, the key to these questions (and also the key to whether our government has been and is acting responsibly) is this more fundamental question: How do we determine whether someone’s or something’s Internet communications are related to espionage, terrorism or criminal activity – the assumption here being that if they are, then our government should know about it and be able to watch them to keep us safe.


    we Americans need to get that we are truly unique in the world because of our traditional insistence on private sector dominance in our telecommunications industry – this continues as we have gone wireless and concentrated on Internet based communications.

    More specifically, in most other parts of the world – democratic or not – the communications infrastructures are mostly government owned or operated, similar to (or even part of) the post office. So also, in most of the rest of the world, there is content surveillance and monitoring of Internet based traffic by one or more government intelligence or law enforcement agencies – and usually without any threshold showing or requirement for probable cause or reasonable belief to look at the substance of the communication. Similarly: Check into any hotel in Europe, and you must show your passport or your required identity card, and your personal data goes directly to the national police or internal security service for whatever checks on you they want to make.

    And, it goes without saying that everywhere in the undemocratic world, e.g., China, everyone is watched all the time, including all Internet activity, because all dissent is a threat to the regime in power, and that’s simply how they stay in power and have always stayed in power. In the past they did it with networks of spies and informants, and now with total Internet supervision.

    Much to the concern of despots everywhere, however, is that today’s Internet is evolving – at least conceptually – to everyone having or having access to their own shortwave-like capability to be able to talk to anybody anywhere in the world.

    The thrust of these comments is that the Internet should be – somehow – immune from any government surveillance of any kind and for any reason. This idea reminds me of a conversation I had with my 90-year-old mom several years ago, when she suggested the same thing. So, I asked her, “OK mom, but what about spies, terrorists and kidnappers?” She thought (for just a second) and said, “Well, those kind of people…sure,” as if I should have known that she meant to exclude “those kind of people”.

    These same arguments were made about the telephone many years ago, especially when organized crime started using it to conduct its “business.” And then, just like the terrorist threat today, it “cost us” a bit of our privacy to be able to track the Mafia with wiretaps. In fact, had it not been for wiretaps, the war against organized crime would have been lost decades ago.


    Bruce Schneier, a security expert who worked with the Guardian to reveal the NSA’s secrets, said Thursday that the U.S. government had “betrayed the Internet.”

    By subverting the Internet at every level to make it a vast, multi-layered and robust surveillance platform, the NSA has undermined a fundamental social contract,” Schneier wrote in an essay for the British paper.

    “We can no longer trust them to be ethical Internet stewards. This is not the Internet the world needs, or the Internet its creators envisioned. We need to take it back.”

    The American Civil Liberties Union joined Schneier in criticizing the spy agency. Christopher Soghoian, principal technologist of the ACLU’s Speech, Privacy and Technology Project, said late Thursday that the agency’s alleged campaign against encryption is “is making the Internet less secure” and exposing Web users to “criminal hacking, foreign espionage, and unlawful surveillance.”

  22. I am sure something like this already is available in Cuba….is quite possible that some new enterprising entrepreneur is charging a fee for this service….
    ” BleepingComputer, a free community where people like yourself come together to discuss and learn how to use their computers. Using the site is easy and fun. As a guest, you can browse and view the various discussions in the forums, but can not create a new topic or reply to an existing one unless you are logged in. Other benefits of registering an account are subscribing to topics and forums, creating a blog, and having no ads shown anywhere on the site.”

  23. So will they arrest Tania again before the next performance? The whole Biennial will notice, and the world too…

  24. Users’ groups started in the early days of mainframe computers, as a way to share sometimes hard-won knowledge and useful software, usually written by end users independently of the vendor-supplied programming efforts. SHARE, a user group originated by aerospace industry corporate users of IBM mainframe computers, was founded in 1955 and is the oldest computer user group still active. DECUS, the DEC User’s Society, was founded in 1961 and its descendant organization, Connect Worldwide, still operates. The Computer Measurement Group (CMG) was founded in 1974 by systems professionals with a common interest in (mainframe) capacity management, and continues today with a much broader mission. The first UNIX users’ group organized in 1978.

    Users’ groups began to proliferate with the microcomputer revolution of the late 1970s and early 1980s as hobbyists united to help each other with programming and configuration and use of hardware and software. Especially prior to the emergence of the World Wide Web, obtaining technical assistance with computers was often onerous, while computer clubs would gladly provide free technical support. Users’ groups today continue to provide “real life” opportunities for learning from the shared experience of the members and may provide other functions such as a newsletter, group purchasing opportunities, tours of facilities, or speakers at group meetings.

    A users’ group may provide its members (and sometimes the general public as well) with one or more of the following services:
    periodic meetings
    annual or less frequent users conferences
    public lectures
    a newsletter
    a library of media or tools
    a software archive
    an online presence such as a dial-up BBS or Internet website
    swap meets
    technical support
    social events
    Code Camp

    Users’ groups may be organized around a particular brand of current hardware (IBM, Macintosh) or current software and operating systems (Linux, Microsoft Windows, Clipper), or more rarely may be dedicated to obsolescent systems or historical computers, for example Apple II, PDP-11, Osborne. An example of an early user group is the Apple User Group Connection

  25. A computer user group (also known as a computer club) is a group of people who enjoy using microcomputers or personal computers and who meet regularly to discuss the use of computers, share knowledge and experience, hear from representatives of hardware manufacturers and software publishers, and hold other related activities. They may host special interest workgroups, often focusing on one particular aspect of computing.

    Computer user groups meet both virtually and in hackerspaces. Computer user groups may consist of members who primarily use a specific operating system, such as Linux. While many hackers use free and open source software, others use Macintosh, RISC OS, Windows and Amiga OS. There are also other user groups that concentrate on either Mac OS (Macintosh User Group or MUG) or Linux (Linux User Group or LUG).

    Many computer user groups belong to an umbrella organization, the Association of Personal Computer User Groups or APCUG.

  26. Humberto: As usual Marco Rubio and the Right Wing gang in the United States are 15 to 20 years behind the times. Cuba is no longer a Communist government. Cuba’s inequality is around .39 as measured by the Gini Index. The United States is a bit higher. Therefore, there is the same economic apartheid so typical in a “Free, Democratic Society”. The Cuban People do have a democratic process and people vote in Cuba. Cuba, has been in transition to a Socialist Democratic Republic for quite sometime now. The United States government and the Rich oilmen/women are engaged in the oppression of the economic growth of countries that export oil around the World by dumping North American oil in the oil World Market causing the price of oil to be around $50.00/barrel when the countries of the World who’s main source of revenue is oil need a price of crude of $80.00/barrel. The United States today is responsible for the economic oppression of millions of people around the World. The American people are also victims of this oppression and have taken to the streets in protest against the low minimum wage. Only States like Washington and the major cities in California have raised the minimum wage close to a living wage. The minimum wage in these two states is now $15.00/hour. the State of Illinois is raising in July the minimum wage to $10.00/hour. Florida, the State represented by Marco Rubio is behind the eight ball in raising the minimum wage close to the living wage which is $23/hour. Marco Rubio and his Right Wing gang are responsible for the oppression of the equivalent of more than 10X the population of Cuba. Let’s not forget the genocide of the Iraqi People during the military campaign of Dessert Storm. The Republican Party controlled Presidency of the United States used radioactive ammunition against 100,000 retreating Iraqi soldiers in a road to the capital of Iraq. Let’s not forget the assassinations of thousands of Mexican citizens by C.I.A. agents send to Mexico with the blessing of Marco Rubio’s Political Party to keep the Batista equivalent Nieto at the helm in Mexico so that the United States oil corporations can owned all the Mexican People’s oil fields. It is extremely hypocritical for Marco Rubio to accuse the government of Cuba of oppression when he is loyal to the political party in the United States that has engaged in so much repression and oppression of sovereign countries and the American People in recent history. Marco Rubio should not “throw stones when he lives in a glass house”…..

  27. MIAMI HERALD OPINION: On Cuban Independence Day: Freedom is the goal – by Marco Rubio

    As we mark Cuban Independence Day this Wednesday, we must never forget that the only true form of independence for the Cuban people is freedom and democracy, and we must recommit our state and nation to the goal of helping them achieve that vital objective.
    I am the proud son of Cuban-American parents and was raised in a community of Cuban exiles. The trajectory of my life has been a product of their support, of true freedom, and of a uniquely American ideal: that where you come from does not determine where you can go or who you can be. Yet just 90 miles from the shores of our nation are men and women of my ancestry and heritage who still do not have freedom. Yet they look to this country for the hope that they someday will.
    I believe we must not fail them. In the last decade and a half, every single country in the Western Hemisphere has had a free and fair election at some point except for one: Cuba. The United States has always stood on the side of peoples around the world who yearn for freedom. But today, our president has decided to take a different approach. Not only has he forsaken our duty to advocate for oppressed peoples, but he has traveled many miles in the opposite direction: going so far as to pay homage to the whims of the very dictatorial regime that denies the freedom of the Cuban people.
    In defending his egregious concessions to the Castro regime, President Obama often makes the argument that if the embargo hasn’t worked for 50 years, we should try something new. My question is: Why hasn’t he tried making a similar argument to the Castro regime? For over 50 years, they’ve tried tyranny and Communism and it hasn’t worked. The Cuban people today have a standard of living well below that of virtually every other nation in the hemisphere.

  28. VIA DEBORAH BRUGUERA (sister of Tania Bruguera) :(9:05 a.m. in Cuba) Two State Security agents just left our mother’s house after a heated ‘conversation’. The idea was that Tania Bruguera should cancel her performance, closing the space and making it clear that they will not accept the last part of the work which includes a public action. Tania disarmed each of their points because she know what her rights are, especially during a Biennial which is used to stimulate a relationship with the community and which relies on the use of public space … For every threat received, Tania responded with a legal argument, Tania refused to relent and told them that the work would be presented in its complete form, that she will not censor her own work, upon seeing that Tania would not budge and that I called her at that moment where she gave me these details in front of them, at which point they also received a call and said they already knew that I had already published that she was gathered with them, they were given the order to leave, but not before they intimidated her and warned her that if she went out with a group of people and even friends at the end of the work, there would be consequences. ‪#‎IAlsoDemand‬ #NotoCensorship ‪#‎FreedomofArtisticExpression‬ A very difficult moment and a very real step away from having detained Tania, I can only give thanks, because things that are not seen, like when I shared the first post that announced the ‘visit’ ended up being of immediate help. THANK YOU !!! Its been about five months since the arrival of Tania to Havana, they were sure that by this point no one would care about her anymore (confirmed in part through this conversation regarding the intention of various actions made against her so that no one would dare to approach her and to completely isolate her ‘we know what we’re doing’,they confirm) Its one hour until the inaugural session of the Hannah Arendt Institute of Artivism in Havana! NO TO CENSORSHIP! YES TO THE FREEDOM OF ARTISTIC EXPRESSION!

  29. THE ART NEWSPAPER INTERVIEWS CUBAN ARTIST TANIA BRUGUERA: Cuban artist to stage new political project in Havana following arrest — Tania Bruguera, who has had her passport confiscated after planning a free-speech performance in Revolution Square, is due to host a 100-hour reading of the book The Origins of Totalitarianism ahead of the city’s biennial – by LAURIE ROJAS

    Tania Bruguera is due to launch a new project in Cuba tomorrow, based on the writing of the German political theorist Hannah Arendt, two days before the 12th Havana Biennial opens to the public (22 May-22 June). This is the first performance to be staged by the Cuban artist since she was arrested five months ago for trying to organise a performance in which the public was invited to speak freely for one minute in Havana’s Plaza de la Revolución.

    Starting with an open session at her home on Wednesday, 20 May at 10am, and continuing for 100 consecutive hours, Bruguera will read fr om Arendt’s book, The Origins of Totalitarianism, 1951. She has invited the public to join in the marathon reading, and plans to hold group discussions.

    The Hannah Arendt International Institute of Artivism, as Bruguera has named the project, aims to be a platform for research and teaching “the practical application” of socially engaged art. Bruguera says she wants the event to be “entirely independent” from the biennial and completely non-commercial.

    The Art Newspaper: What is the nature of the campaign against you in Cuba?

    Tania Bruguera: People here have been making up stories about me. They started by saying that I was a drug dealer, because of a piece I did in Colombia were women walked around with cocaine trays.

    If only they understood that I am doing what any artist does, which is revealing the internal dynamics, revealing something that is there but is hidden. With [#YoTambienExijo] I have removed the armour, and everything that the government does is visible, is exposed.

    And people are in shock, they can’t believe that this is happening. But this always happens. This is the system that has been established, and it just touched me now because I chose to confront it. But other people don’t choose it, and the system crushes them.

    The new theory is that I am doing this because of ego.


  30. I believe that there’s a paralell to what’s happening in Myanmar here:
    Regime change or the lack thereof isn’t everything. Big changes like coming out of decades of repression take time, and that process isn’t smooth.
    However the Latin American presidents and Spanish PMs that have taken an interest in CubaZuela recently can help guide the process. Since they are not in office any more, the pressures of national interest aren’t weighing them down, and they can use their vast experience…

  31. So the second-in-command in the Vzla govt is a drug lord(?). That speaks not just volumes, but libraries about the state of affairs in that country.
    Then the assessment that Vzla – and Mexico, Central America and the drug producers in South America – are a risk to US security doesn’t sound so far-fetched. The USA absolutely needs to fight thi fight…

  32. What is the Cuban government so afraid of ? The internet is a source of knowledge and communication. What are they so afraid of that they feel the need to have so much control over everything. If they are running the country properly than they should fear nothing. They must feel that they are so incompetent that if allowed free speech and free internet communication the people of Cuba would riot in the streets. What they don’t know is that even with internet censorship, free speech on the internet is unstoppable. People always find ways around the filters. The nature of the internet is free speech and free exchange of information. It is unstoppable.

  33. Free internet access among the Cuban population is not one of the goals of the Castroit regime. The regime overwhelming regulation of the internet, with minimal access, make it one of the worst in the world.

    Those who want to use the Internet have to go through “access points” control by the regime, and their activity is carefully monitored by blocking IPs or by using different filters. Only pro-government blogger’s and government employees can upload information on the Internet.

  34. So basically what the new Union of Cuban Computer Users is saying is:

    If you hope to ever use the internet one day in Cuba, you have to prove you are a member of the spineless communist boot-licker club.

    And you have to swear to Castro that you will keep repeating all of Castro’s lies over the internet.

    And you must swear you will never read Yoani’s blog or any other subversive site.

    If you pass the test and are lucky, you might get to use the internet one day.

    Castro has a lot of confidence in his Model Socialist Republic.

  35. Below an article about oppression in Cuba, Mr. Anti-Imperialist Omar praises Chinese imperialism and its rape of Venezuela, with the collaboration of dictator Maduro and his Merry Band of Narco-Billionaires.

    Mr. Anti-Bank Omar praises the Triads and their Chinese Development Bank. These nice Chinese Banksters don’t forgive debts as easily as US banks.

    No third world country was ever abused by the USA as much as they are now by China.

    Anti-Imperialists for Imperialism, Unite!

    You should put that up on your Cuban billboards.

  36. Venezuela Sailing Away From U.S. Domination Thanks to Chinese Funds-
    China has lend Venezuela $50 Billion and Venezuela has already paid the Chinese back $25 Billion dollars. Venezuela owes the World Bank zero dollars. China and Venezuela have established supply chain lines between the two countries.
    Since 2007, Venezuela has been able to secure nearly $50 billion USD, in loans, from the China Development Bank Corp (CDB).6 To be specific, from 2007 to 2012, China made four loans of $4 billion USD to Venezuela for energy infrastructure. In April 2010, there was another $10 billion USD loan package that went to the state oil company, PDVSA. Later in 2010 and 2011, Venezuela received two $4 billion loan packages again.7 These investments were not simply a charitable offering in order to facilitate Venezuela’s economic development; they also benefited Chinese corporations. Although the loans were made at a low interest rate, the Chinese had conditions on how Venezuela should assign them. In fact, the use of these loans have led to a relatively stronger Chinese commercial presence in Latin America, while Venezuela was able to develop its own financial institutions, in a win-win situation.

    The Venezuelan government had spent the loans mostly on such Chinese products as electronics, railways, and modernization infrastructure. For example, in 2010, the Haier Group, a Chinese electronics company, sold $3 million USD air conditioners to Venezuela along with cars from the Chery Automobile Corp, a Chinese automobile company. In addition to the purchase of Chinese products, Venezuela also built factories and infrastructure which would provide a great number of jobs for both Chinese and Venezuelan workers.8

    One characteristic of financial cooperation between China and Venezuela is that the Chinese provide technology and equipment while the Venezuelans export natural resources to China. In 2010, Wuhan Iron & Steel Group, the third biggest steel maker in China, signed a contract to import iron ore from a Venezuelan company.9 The two countries later furthered their cooperative ventures, in 2014, when SANY Heavy Industry invested in the building of eight construction material factories in Venezuela. The Minister of Public Works and Housing of Venezuela, Ricardo Molina, said “these factories will be able to provide enough construction material for 200,000 units of housing.”10 However, one needs to recognize that this cooperation is based on the abundance of Venezuela’s oil reserve and its auspicious mining locations. While the Chinese may have near endless supply of cash due to its large economy, Venezuela does not have bottom-less oil fields or extractive resources. Therefore, it is important for Venezuela to diversify its economy, as well as encourage technological innovation.
    According to the New York Times, there are more than 50,000 Chinese who are settled across Venezuela today.12A considerable portion of this impressive number are Chinese people who have come to Venezuela to work as shopkeepers. This trend of immigrant workers suggests that Chinese investment not only has a direct effect on Venezuela, by helping with its economic development and its finances, but it has also brought on more frequent exchanges of various kinds between the people of both countries.
    Venezuela has brought in billions of Chinese funds, and has cooperated with China in various investments and trade areas, such as agriculture, construction, telecommunication, tourism and mining. According to Ivan Antonio Guerrero Zerpa, Venezuelan Ambassador to China, in the next 10 years, Venezuela’s strategic plan will include bilateral cooperation on creating Special Development Zones and Special Economic Zones in the country. Moreover, the ambassador also mentions that Venezuela recognizes the increasing need of natural resources in Asian countries, and he believes this could be an incredible opportunity for the two regions to increase their trade.22 With an established demand and supply chain between Venezuela and China, it is fair to predict that while the United States continues to apply more sanctions on Venezuela, China will be there to support Venezuela’s development requirements. At the same time, China will be able to rely on Venezuela, one of the most oil-rich countries in the world, to be its natural resources exporter as well as the importer of technological products. Now that Venezuela and other CELAC countries can count on another main economic partner waiting to fill the void, the grip of the United States on the region is softening to a marked degree.



    In Cuba, access to the internet remains under state control. It is regulated by the Law of Security of Information, which prohibits access to internet services from private homes. Therefore, the internet in Cuba has a social vocation and remains accessible at education centres, work-places and other public institutions. Internet can also be accessed in hotels but at a high cost. In October 2009, the government adopted a new law allowing the Cuban Postal Services to establish cyber-cafés in its premises and offer internet access to the public. However, home connections are not yet allowed for the vast majority of Cubans and only those favoured by the government are able to access the internet from their own homes

    However, many blogs are not accessible from within Cuba because the Cuban authorities have put in place filters restricting access. The blogs affected are mainly those that openly criticize the Cuban government and its restrictions on freedom of expression, association, peaceful assembly and movement. For example, Generation Y is one of the dozens of blogs that are filtered or intermittently blocked by the government and are not accessible inside Cuba.

  38. WASHINGTON POST: U.S. Telecoms Eager to Build a Business Presence in Cuba – By Cecilia Kang -April 15, 2009
    U.S. telecommunication firms could open up investment in Cuba now that the Obama administration will allow companies to operate there, a final global frontier for the Internet age.
    But before cellphone and Internet providers rush in, they will closely study potential pitfalls in setting up shop in the Communist nation with one of the poorest populations in the region, analysts said.
    The Cuban government has not been helpful in allowing its citizens access to communications technology, said David Gross, who was U.S. ambassador and coordinator for International Information and Communications Policy during the Bush administration. Now that the United States has opened the door, he said, “the question is whether the Cuban government will allow people to come inside.”
    Cuba has the lowest percentage of telephone, Internet and cellphone subscribers in Latin America, according to Manuel Cereijo, a professor of electrical engineering at the University of Miami. About 11 percent of residents subscribe to land-line telephone service, and 2 percent have cellphone service.
    Under President Obama’s plan, U.S. telecom companies would be able to build undersea cable networks that connect the two nations. Cellphone carriers would be able to contract with Cuba’s government-run wireless operator to provide service to its residents and offer roaming services to Americans visiting the island.
    U.S. satellite operators such as Sirius XM Radio and Dish Network could beam Martha Stewart and MTV programs to the nation. Cubans could also receive cellphones and computers donated from overseas.

    United States: New Rules Regarding Telecommunications Service To Cuba
    Last Updated: December 2 2009
    In early September, the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) and the Commerce Department Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) published long-awaited regulations implementing the Cuba policies announced by the White House in April 2009. In a sweeping departure from prior U.S. policy, these presidential policies – which are intended to promote the freer flow of information to the Cuban people – significantly reduce the licensing requirements and other barriers for telecommunications providers to offer services to Cuba. In addition, they authorize the following:
    transactions involving the establishment of new fiber-optic cable and satellite facilities between the U.S. and Cuba
    roaming agreements with Cuban telecommunication providers
    expanded travel to Cuba in connection with business activities related to telecommunications
    These changes may be a major boon to American telecommunications companies, which have sought to do business in Cuba for many years. The ultimate outcome of the White House initiative, however, hinges on a number of factors. Although new regulations have been adopted by certain U.S. government agencies, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is awaiting State Department guidance and has not yet changed its Cuba policies, which date back to 1993. It is not known how the State Department and the FCC will conform its policies to the White House initiative – nor is it known how the Cuban government will react to the policy changes.

  39. THE DAILY BEAST: Cuba’s 12 Most Absurd Prohibitions That Tourists May Never Notice – It’s getting easier to go to Cuba, but not necessarily to live there. Sometimes it’s the little things that make you crazy. But, then, there are big things, too. – by Yusnaby Perez
    HAVANA — Here’s a list of the 12 most absurd prohibitions and limitations that we Cubans have to endure in our homeland. It is worth highlighting that the socialist Government of Cuba applies some of them exclusively to Cuban citizens, while foreign residents and tourists do not suffer from the bans. A curious double standard, no? And worth remembering if you are planning a visit and discover your new Cuban friends can’t joint you in the fun.

    1-Cubans can’t access the Internet from their homes or on their cell phones. ETECSA is the Cuban state-owned telecommunications monopoly. According to its policy, Internet access in private homes is not a service provided to Cuban citizens. It is exclusively provided to state-owned and foreign businesses, and to foreigners residing in the country, as its website makes clear.

    2-No sailing on tourist boats. There is not an actual law that forbids Cubans getting on boats and ships, but authorities have applied this restriction for many years. According to Cubatur (a state travel agent) “Cubans—no matter where they live—may not be sold a tourist package that includes a catamaran or a yacht. This enjoyment is exclusive to foreign tourists.”

    3-No cable TV. The socialist firm Telecable is the only one that provides cable TV. This service is exclusive to the tourist infrastructure (mainly hotels), diplomats, foreign companies and foreigners residing in Cuba. Telecable offers a selection of international channels such as CNN, Discovery, HBO, ESPN…

    The Cuban population, for no other reason than being Cuban, cannot access this service and can only consume national state-owned TV channels and Telesur (a socialist Latin American channel).

    4-Can’t live in Havana (without a permit). Can someone from L.A. live in Washington D.C.? The answer is obvious. But in Cuba, can someone from Bayamo live in Havana? The answer is NO, unless he or she has a permit. The Decree-Law 217-1997 on “Internal migrations regarding the city of Havana” dictates that people from other provinces may not live in the capital without a “transitory” document; that is, an authorization issued by the Ministry of the Interior. This violates the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which says, “Everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each state.” Not here.

    5- No public demonstrations allowed. The Constitution of Cuba (1976) recognizes the right to demonstrate under certain regulations while the Penal Code, in its article 209, warns that “he who participates in meetings or demonstrations celebrated without respecting the dispositions that regulate this right, is committing a felony against public order.” But in the 39 years that have gone by since 1976, no law has been adopted to regulate the right to demonstrate in Cuba. It’s a Catch-22. Not to belabor the point, “Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association,” according to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.


  40. Interesting organization the UIC (Union of Computer Users in Cuba). Yoani, this type of organization is in existence all over the World. Cuba not having many computer users like in the developed World, creates one for the country. The Academy of Science for example connects group of professionals and scholars all over the United States and outside the United States. These experts publish many papers and studies about a large number of topics and at the drop of a hat, the government or private corporations if they can afford it can set up a team of experts to tackle a problem and recommend solutions of national interest. There is also a network of scientists organization in Universities and government funded institutions that work together and obviously the government knows more about them then they themselves do…..and we are in a “free, democratic society”. I know you are very much aware that in the so called “Free World” organizations like the NSA exist in all countries with the ability to block, read, provide misinformation to the computer users and make them think they are engaged in “free internet surfing”…I think activists around the World are forced to use code words in their communication that are secret so that the person receiving electronic communication know that is coming from the person they think is coming from….the communication age has made it necessary for people to be more creative about how they communicate in order to protect their Human Rights from governments (friends and foes)….I think the creation of this organization in Cuba is a good sign that Cuba is moving forward with their plans to join the World Community all the way….they are not holding back the race of humanity to the future for the Cuban People. The Revolutionaries already have made a significant contribution to Man’s race to the future, by being the first white European dominated government to fight against another white European government for the right of the Negro in South Africa to win their self-determination. Cuba also has provided leadership in creating an inclusive World in Latin America. Cuba export of their human capital is a more effective way to help people around the World than the Charity organizations of the Rich Capitalist Nations ( it also makes sense from the Benefits/Cost point of view).

  41. DEUTCHE WELLE NEWS GERMANY: US probes Venezuelan officials for drug crimes – Washington has reportedly launched a probe into alleged high-level drug trafficking in Venezuela. National assembly president Diosdado Cabello is allegedly a leading target of the investigation.
    United States prosecutors have launched an investigation into Venezuela’s parliamentary chief, Diosdado Cabello, and other senior officials for possible cocaine trafficking and money laundering, the “Wall Street Journal” reported Monday.
    Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) investigators and federal prosecutors were building a case based on evidence provided by former cocaine traffickers, ex-military members and informants with close ties to high-level Venezuelan officials.
    Cabello is regarded as the second most powerful man in the South American nation, after President Nicolas Maduro. According to the report, Maduro himself is not a target of the investigation.
    “There is extensive evidence to justify that [Cabello] is one of the heads, if not the head of the cartel,” an unidentified Justice Department official was quoted as saying. “He certainly is a main target.”
    In recent years, opposition leaders and US officials have leveled charges of money laundering and drug trafficking against the governments of Maduro and that of his predecessor, the late Hugo Chavez.
    Venezuelan authorities have previously dismissed the accusations as smears that are part of a wider US campaign to end 16 years of socialism in the country.

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