• The objective of this Blog is to facilitate access to research resources and analyses from all relevant and useful sources, mainly on the economy of Cuba. It includes analyses and observations of the author, Arch Ritter, as well as hyper-links, abstracts, summaries, and commentaries relating to other research works from academic, governmental, media, non-governmental organizations and international institutions.
    Commentary, critique and discussion on any of the postings is most welcome.
    This Blog on The Cuban Economy is dedicated to Cuba's Generation "A". Although inspired by Yoani Sánchez' original blog "Generation Y" this is not dedicated to those with names starting with the letter "A". Instead, it draws from Douglas Coupland's novel Generation A which begins with a quotation from Kurt Vonnegut at a University Commencement:
    "... I hereby declare you Generation A, as much as the beginning of a series of astounding triumphs and failures as Adam and Eve were so long ago."

From EFE: “Political arrests on rise in Cuba, opposition says”

The intensification of “low level” political repression in Cuba in the last year or so is disturbing. It reverses the mild “net” tendency towards greater liberalization – with fits and starts, and ups and downs – that I thought I saw occurring some time ago. (see Freedom of Expression, Economic Self-Correction and Self-Renewal.)

(EFE) Published December 19, 2011

Havana –  The opposition Cuban Commission on Human Rights and National Reconciliation said Monday that in December there have been 388 temporary detentions for political reasons in Cuba.

“We are very disturbed by the increase of what is called ‘low intensity’ political repression consisting of being kept in custody for hours, days or weeks,” Elizardo Sanchez, spokesman for the illegal but tolerated commission, told foreign correspondents.

“We have absolutely confirmed – up to yesterday, Dec. 18 – 388 detentions for political reasons, many of them violent,” he said.

Sanchez said that the political, economic and cultural situation and that of civil rights in Communist-ruled Cuba “continue to deteriorate.”

As an example of his complaint he presented the case of Henry Perales, who appeared at the same press conference to report that he was violently arrested and jailed by police together with a group of dissidents when they tried to carry out a peaceful march on Dec. 2 in the eastern town of Palma Soriano.

Perales, 27, said that he and his friends were beaten by security agents and, in his case, by the driver of the bus they put him in.

“When I got on (the bus) I yelled ‘Long live human rights!’ The driver had a tool in his hand, he struck me with it and when I called him a murderer he hit me again,” Perales said.

He said police took him to a medical post where he was given nine stitches to close the wounds caused by the blows. Afterwards he was jailed for nearly five days and was later released without charges.

Perales said he intended to present a “formal accusation” against the bus driver, and Sanchez confirmed that the commission will aid the dissident in his efforts to obtain justice.

Elizardo Sanchez Santacruz, Director of the Cuban Commission on Human Rights and National Reconciliation

Posted in Blog | Tagged , | Leave a comment

New Essay by Carmelo-Mesa-Lago: “LAS REFORMAS DE RAÚL CASTRO Y EL CONGRESO DEL PARTIDO COMUNISTA DE CUBA: Avances, obstáculos y resultados”

Carmelo Mesa-Lago Catedrático Distinguido Emérito de Economía, Universidad de Pittsburgh

Original Essay Here:  Carmelo Mesa-Lago, Cuba VI Congreso CIDOB 2011

Resumen: En 2007, un año después de sustituir a Fidel, Raúl Castro anunció “reformas estructurales” y auspició el debate más amplio bajo la revolución, que alcanzó un alto consenso sobre los cambios necesarios. En los dos años siguientes, Raúl Castro introdujo modificaciones de poca importancia, pero el deterioro económico-social y la aguda crisis económica impulsaron dos reformas más profundas entre 2009 y 2011: el usufructo de tierras ociosas estatales, así como el despido de entre el 10% y el 35% de la fuerza laboral y su empleo en trabajos privados. En el VI Congreso del Partido Comunista de Cuba (PCC), celebrado en abril de 2011, se ratificaron dichas reformas y se anunciaron otras menos importantes. Con estos antecedentes, en este trabajo se hace una revisión de este proceso centrada en los siguientes puntos:1) se identifican las reformas de Raúl Castro y los acuerdos más relevantes del Congreso, 2) se analizan las limitaciones y las dificultades que enfrentan en su implementación, 3) se revisan los ajustes efectuados y se resumen los resultados, y 4) se explora si hay consenso o disenso en la dirigencia para impulsar las reformas y sus efectos.

Carmelo Mesa-Lago

Posted in Blog | Tagged , | 2 Comments

Toronto Globe and Mail: “Scotiabank, Royal Bank eye Cuba operations”

Grant Robertson— Banking Reporter

Original Article Here:  Scotiabank, RBC eye Cuba operation

Published Sunday, Dec. 18, 2011 11:39PM EST

National Bank of Canada has operated an office in Cuba for 16  years, making it a rarity of sorts among Canadian banks, but it may soon have some company.

At least two other Canadian banks are said to be looking at setting up shop in Cuba, according to a report in the London-based Financial Times on Sunday night.

Amid economic reforms on the island, Bank of Nova Scotia has reportedly applied to Cuban authorities to set up a representative office in the capital. Royal Bank is also considering opening an office in Havana, the report said.

Scotiabank, which has extensive operations across South America and the Caribbean, and RBC, Canada’s largest bank, both had branches in the country before the 1959 Cuban Revolution ushered in Communism, and a subsequent U.S. embargo, which slowed foreign investment.

However, economic reforms in Cuba, stemming from the handover of power from long-time president Fidel Castro to his brother, Raúl Castro, are changing the country as the government looks for ways to boost Cuba’s economy.

If RBC and Scotia return to Cuba, they would join Montreal-based National, Canada’s sixth-largest bank, on the island. National opened a representative office in Havana in 1995. The small operation is not a bank branch though, and mostly handles trade finance.

Banco Central de Cuba, the country’s central bank, lists National as having a relationship with the country that dates back more than 28 years, including financing export development, securities and insurance businesses there.

The Cuba Trade and Economic Council lists more than 80 companies in Canada with business ties to Cuba, including Bell Canada, Bombardier, and dozens of oil and gas companies.

Old Bank of Nova Scotia, Havana

Interior, Old Royal Bank of Canada, Havana

The Vault, Banco Central de Cuba, Photo by Arch Ritter, 1993

 

Posted in Blog | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Lenier Gonzalez, The Road of Patience

Lenier Gonzalez analyses the independent media in Cuba. Published by the Cuba Studies Group in “From the Island”, December `15, 2011

The full study is located here: Lenier Gonzalez, The Road to Patience, December 15, 2011

Conclusion:

The Cuban government should recognize the political plurality of the nation and consequently help channel the institutionalization of those new utopians inerted in the Cuban reality, through  consolidation of an open public space that would welcome debate between each of these Cuban groups. Taking on this challenge bears implicitly the radical redesign of state institutions and the Cuban Communist Party to be able to effectively accept in its midst all this diversity that we have been talking about. This should lead us to do without a “State ideology” that, in practice functions as a straight jacket that makes invisible and constraints all of the national diversity. The Martian republic “with all and for the good of all”, because of its ecumenism and universality, continuous to be the most suitable threshold to think Cuba in the beginning of the 21st century.

Lenier González Mederos. Havana, 1981. BA in Communications, Universidad de la Habana. Member of the Editorial Council (Assistant Editor) for Espacio Laical, publication of the Secular Council, Archdiocese of Havana. Member of the Secular Council
and Culture Commission for the Archdiocese of Havana. Currently teaches Communications at the San Carlos and San Ambrosio Seminaries. Academic Coordinator for the MBA program at the Murcia Catholic University, Centro Cultural Padre Varela.

Posted in Blog | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Canadian Professor John Kirk Receives a Medal from the Government of Cuba

GRANMA: Entregan Medalla de la Amistad a John Kirk

Original Granma Article here: http://www.granma.cubaweb.cu/2011/12/15/nacional/artic04.html

Dalia González Delgado

La Medalla de la Amistad que otorga el Consejo de Estado de la República de Cuba fue entregada este miércoles al canadiense John Kirk.

John Kirk agradeció el alto reconocimiento.

En la ceremonia, realizada en la sede del Instituto Cubano de Amistad con los Pueblos (ICAP), Kirk agradeció el alto reconocimiento.

“Soy martiano”, dijo, “Martí me cambió la vida. Aunque he escrito de otros temas, la influencia martiana nunca se ha alejado de mi obra”.

Asimismo, se refirió a las relaciones entre Cuba y Canadá, especialmente al intercambio académico.

John Kirk es Catedrático de Estudios Latinoamericanos en la Universidad de Dalhouisie, Canadá, y especialista en la historia política de Cuba. Ha escrito varios libros sobre nuestro país y es miembro del consejo editorial de las revistas Internacional Journal of Cuban Studies, de Inglaterra y Cuban Studies, de Estados Unidos. Durante los últimos cinco años se ha dedicado a estudiar el internacionalismo médico de Cuba.

En la entrega de la medalla estuvieron presentes Matthew Levin, embajador de Canadá en Cuba, Josefina Vidal Ferreiro, directora de la Dirección de América del Norte del Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores (MINREX), y Kenia Serrano, presidenta del ICAP.

 

Posted in Blog | Tagged | 3 Comments

Johann Sebastian Bach, the “Stasi” and Cuba

By Arch Ritter

My wife Joan and I completed our J. S. Bach “Pilgrimage” in late November, 2011, travelling to the various locations where he lived and worked. Our first stop was his birthplace Eisenach where he attended the same school as Martin Luther – but about two centuries later. Then came Ohrdruf, where he lived from age 9 to 15 with his eldest brother, J. C. Bach, also an organist and composer, with whom he studied the organ – both its music and its maintenance and construction. Bach then was capellmeister, organist or court musician in a variety of locations, namely Arnstadt, Mühlhausen, Weimar, and Köthen before moving to Leipzig for his last 23 years.

Our journey was indeed memorable, not only as a homage to Bach who in my view is undoubtedly the greatest musician in history, with a vast musical “oeuvre”, sacred and secular, for organ, piano, choir and numerous individual instruments and combinations of instruments. Exploring by car some of the rural areas and small towns of Thuringia in what was the Deutsche Demokratische Republik (DDR) or “East Germany” was also a great pleasure and an eye-opener.

In following the footsteps of Bach through Eastern Germany, one cannot avoid the dark side of German – and human – history. For example, Weimar, which was an outstanding focus of German cultural achievement for a couple of centuries, is five miles from the Buchenwald concentration camp. Ohrdruf was also the location of a major concentration camp, liberated by American forces on April 4, 1945, and visited by Generals Eisenhower, Patton and Bradley as well as by the press from much of the world.  Erfurt, where Bach’s mother was born, was the scene of a series of pogroms against its Jewish population in the 1400s. Muhlhausen was the center of a brief communistic theocracy under Thomas Muntzer and is near the battle site where his peasant army was defeated during the German Peasant’s war of 1524-25.

But what was particularly striking for us was that the Thomaskirche in Leipzig where Bach worked for 23 years is located three city blocks from the “Runde Ecke” (the round corner”) which was the Leipzig headquarters of the Ministerium für Staatssicherheit (MfS),commonly known as “the Stasi”. The Stasi was probably the most effective and repressive intelligence and secret police agencies in the world. It was an out-of-control behemoth, ultimately with 91,000 full-time employees, 350,000 formal informers, a budget of 22.5 million Marks and 160 kilometers of files. It engaged in widespread telephone surveillance, postal service surveillance (opening 1,500-2000 letters daily in Leipzig alone), and border controls. All this was done with German diligence and thoroughness.

The uprising that resulted in the overthrow of the DDR regime was centered outside the old “Runde Ecke”. This is now a museum set up by the “Citizen’s Committee Leipzig” which also coordinated the uprising. The town‘s churches served as the organizing locales for the early stages of Leipzig’s “Peaceful revolution.”

The Museum on the Stasi diverted my thoughts away from J.S. Bach and back to Cuba.

Stasi Files – before the age of the computer

Paper Pulping Machine for destroying documents. These machines broke down from overuse in the last days of the Leipzig Stasi. Documents were then ripped up by hand, filling some 90,000 bags of paper. The documents are now being pieced together using computer technology.

Cuba’s Ministry of the Interior (Minint) had close contact with the Stasi – so close that it could almost be considered as a little brother of the Stasi. (The Stasi was also linked to the KGB, and Vladimir Putin served time as the KGB liaison officer to the Dresden HQ of the Stasi.) Cuba’s domestic spying operations are conducted by the Department of State Security (DSE), an arm of MININT, which has authority to monitor the general public. According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, Cuba’s Ministry of the Interior (MININT), which was modeled on the Soviet KGB, rivaled the East German Stasi for effectiveness and ruthlessness.

The role of the Stasi in supporting and advising Minint is not something that I know much about. Nor do I know much about Minint and have had only one minor contact – that I know of –  (being filmed with Pascal Fletcher, now with the Miami Herald, in a bar in the Hotel Nacional in Havana.)  However, one indicator of its role is the lack of trust among Cuban citizens and indeed among émigrés, with so many suspecting that others are in the service of state security. Another indicator is telephone surveillance, which is widespread and was commented upon recently by Yoani Sanchez (See her Blog entry: ETECSA: From Surveillance to Indiscretion.)

Ministry of the Interior, Havana

An article by Michael Levitan in 2007 for the Miami Herald details some of the interaction between the Stasi and Cuba’s Minint (“East Germans drew blueprint for Cuban spying.” Levitan draws on the work of Jorge L. García Vázquez, a Cuban exile who was jailed in a Stasi cell in 1987. García Vázquez produces a Research Blog on the Stasi-Minint relationship (“Conexión La Habana -Berlin.  Secretos de Estado y Notas sobre la Colaboración entre la STASI y el MININT) at http://havana-berlin-connection.blogspot.com/.

Here are a few quotations from Levitan’s essay:

(Quoting García Vázquez)  ”The repressive system that existed in East Germany . . . is the same one that exists today in Cuba,” he says. “What MININT learned from the Stasi has not been forgotten. On the contrary, [the strategies and techniques] are alive today despite the fall of the Berlin Wall.”

The Stasi’s menacing control over almost every aspect of private and public life in East Germany can be seen in this year’s Oscar-winning film The Lives of Others“, the tale of a Stasi officer’s inner conflict as he protects a dissident playwright whose apartment has been thoroughly bugged by the Stasi.

Germans taught the Cubans how to mount effective camera and wiretap systems for eavesdropping — for example, at what height on the wall to install microphones, which color wallpaper provides the best concealment, and which shade of lighting for the best video recordings.

The Stasi provided computers and introduced new archiving methods that better organized, protected and sped up the Cubans’ processing of security information. It delivered one-way mirrors used for interrogations and provided equipment to fabricate masks, mustaches and other forms of makeup so that when the Cubans sent out covert agents, ”they went in dressed with wigs, false noses — the works — credit of the Stasi,” Vázquez says.

At the Thomaskirche, Leipzig

Posted in Blog, Featured | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Paul Hare: “Cuba: What Might Happen Now?”

Paul Hare has just published a valuable analysis on Cuba’s current overall economic and political situation. It is certainly worth some careful attention. Especially interesting is the Appendix which presents a detailed and comprehensive comparison of the positions of the Government with those of dissident groups on a broad range of issues.

Paul Hare was the British Ambassador to Cuba from 2001-2004. He is  currently a Lecturer in International Relations at Boston University.

Paul Webster Hare, Cuba, What Might Happen Now in Cuban Affairs: Quarterly Electronic Journal, Volume 6 Issue 2, 2011

Summary

It didn’t happen 20 years ago. It hasn’t happened so far in 2011. Despite massive popular uprisings against totalitarian governments elsewhere in the world, Cuba continues to buck the trend. If there are no mass protests and sit-ins at the Plaza de la Revolución, what might happen now in Cuba? What changes are taking place in Cuba, and what are the implications for its economic and political future?

This paper analyzes the new political and economic space that is opening up in Cuba. The space is developing because the government has recognized that it needs to salvage the economy if it is to salvage the Revolution. This paper argues that Cuba is unlikely in the near-term to see a grass roots movement that demands the wholesale replacement of its leadership. But the surge of interest in the economy, perhaps unwittingly stimulated by the government, is shifting activity to territory that favors the opposition. Raul Castro is promoting a language of reform, even though his own definitions require some linguistic contortions. His speeches are still more of the parade ground, rather than of a CEO growing a business in the world market. And there is no new product; instead a striving to perfect the old one – socialism – through greater efficiency, reducing state spending and cutting imports. But so far there is no acceptance by Raul Castro that by allowing individuals to get rich, the Cuban economy will grow.

None of this means that democracy with features such as freedom of expression, freedom of movement, and an end to communist party monopoly is around the corner in Cuba. Indeed there have been many times in the 52 year revolution when signals of greater openness were withdrawn. But in 2011 the scenario is moving away irreversibly from the communist comfort zone. The debate is not yet in the political center but it is hard to see how it can be contained, given the principles that are being discussed.

The government is seeking to implement limited reform, change economic calculations, revise revolutionary definitions, and deal with a potential explosion in cell phone use (now 25% of all Cubans) plus demands that internet access be unrestricted for economic and political reasons. The goalposts of 52 years of government are moving slightly. The objective remains a state-controlled economy where the ilitary/government dominates the strategic sectors and not one where a private sector will be given free license. This suggests that those who want an increase in fundamental freedoms in Cuba, and greater political and economic openness, need to engage and show by example in politics, economics and above all in business what works and what offers Cubans a better future. This paper examines how such actions might develop and how a new cadre of “civic entrepreneur” might have a significant influence. The annex provides a summary of what Cubans on the island are saying about current issues of debate.

Annex: How Far Apart are Cubans?

It is difficult if not impossible to gauge opinions on key issues of Cubans on the island. As an attempt to measure the scope of the debate, I have compared below what the government has been saying on a variety of issues with public comments of Cubans not in government positions who live on the island. Some are from members of the “opposition,” some from semi-official centers of studies, and some from popular cultural figures. All are producing the critical comments and new ideas which Raul Castro professes to value. These issues are some of those on which Cubans must join in a debate and where the civic entrepreneurs will have a key contribution.

Ambassador Paul Hare

Posted in Blog | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments

Eusebio Mujal-León: “Survival, Adaptation and Uncertainty, The Case of Cuba”

Professor Eusebio Mujal-Leon, of Geogetown University, has just published a valuable analysis of Cuba’s current economic reforms and the changing political configuration under President Raul Castro.

The article was published in the Journal of International Affairs, Fall/Winter 2011, and can be found here: Mujal-Leon_JIA “Survival, Adaptation and Uncertainty, The Case of Cuba”

ABSTRACT

The Cuban Revolution recently experienced a major transition of leadership as power shifted hands from Fidel Castro to his younger brother, Raúl. Eschewing the role of caretaker, Raúl embarked on an ambitious program aiming to streamline a cumbersome and inefficient state while reforming the economy in ways that will increase agricultural production, encourage self-employment and lead to sustainable economic growth. At the same time, Raúl Castro refashioned the ruling coalition and proposed major changes to the ruling Communist Party, including term limits, leadership rotation and the separation of party and state functions. This article analyzes the emergence of a new Cuban political elite, explores how power is distributed between its military and party wings and examines the major challenges this coalition must overcome if it is to successfully manage the transition from the Castro era and  stabilize Cuban autocracy.

Below are two of Professor Mujal-Leon’s tables that summarize the changes in the membership of Cuba’s central political institutions.

ProfessorEusebio Mujal-Leon

 

Posted in Blog | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Centro de Estudios de la Economía Cubana (CEEC)

By Arch Ritter

Centro de Estudios de la Economía Cubana (CEEC)

The University of Havana’s Centro de Estudios de la Economia Cubana has made itself the foremost research institution on the Cuban economy since its establishment in 1989.  Its faculty includes many of the best-known analysts on the Cuban economy, including both senior and newer faculty members. The work of the Cuban Economy Team is especially impressive and is certainly worth careful study by anyone interested in Cuba. I have often thought that Cuba would benefit immensely if some of the members of CEEC were in key Cabinet positions in the Government of Cuba responsible for the management of the economy.  I expect that this in fact will happen before too long! Cuban Economy Team: Dr. Juan Triana Cordoví, Dr. Omar Everleny Pérez (Director), Dr. Armando Nova González, Dr. Hiram Marquetti Nodarse, Dr. Jorge Mario Sánchez Egozcue, Dr. Pavel Vidal Alejandro, Ms. Betsy Anaya, Ms. CamilaPiñeiro Harnecker, Ms. Ricardo Torres Pérez and Lic. Saira Pons Pérez Enterprise Management Team: Dr. Orlando W. Gutierréz Castillo, Dr. Humberto Blanco Rosales, Dr. Rosendo Morales González, Dr. Jorge Ricardo Ramírez, Dra. Aleida Gonzalez-Cueto, Dra. Dayma Echevarría León, Dra. Ileana Díaz Fernández, Ms. Mercedes González Sánchez, Ms. Maria Isabel Suárez González,  Lic. Dayrelis Ojeda Suris and Lic. Mariuska Cancio  Fonseca The CEEC publishes a number of “Boletínes” each year that usually include valuable analyses of various aspects of Cuba’s economy and economic policy. Here are the Tables of Contents of the last three issues. The “Boletínes” are hyper-linked to the CEEC Web Site and some of the essays are linked to the PDF files for rapid access.

Boletín Agosto 2011

El sistema de gestion y direccion de la economia hoy. Ileana Diaz,  Dra.Ileana Diaz Experiencias noruegas relevantes para la agricultura cubana, Dr. Anicia Garcia La propiedad en la economia cubana. Armando Nova,  Dr.Armando Nova Los sistemas de direccion  de la economia  1961- 1975,  Dra.Ileana Diaz Turismo de salud en Cuba. David Pajon Dr. David Pajon

Boletín Abril-Agosto 2010

Competitividad e innovacion, donde esta Cuba. Ileana Diaz, Dr. Ileana Díaz El impacto del postgrado en la educacion superior Cuba- Venezuela. Rosendo Morales Dr. Rosendo Morales El mercado y el estado, dos partes que forman un todo. Armando Nova, Dr. Armando Nova González Entre el ajuste fiscal y los cambios estructurales, se extiende el cuentapropismo, Dr. Pavel Vidal y Dr. Omar Everleny Pérez Fuerzas favorables y restrictivas a la dirección estratégica de la empresa. Dayrelis Ojeda y Humberto Blanco Lic. Dayrelis Ojeda y Dr. Humber

Boletin Enero-Mayo 2010

El mercado libre agropecuario en 2009. Armando Nova, Dr. Armando Nova González El sector energetico cubano entre 2005 y 2009. Ricardo Torres_0 Ms. Ricardo Torres Pérez La política fiscal actual. Pavel Vidal_0 Dr. Pavel Vidal Alejandro Estrategia. Mito o realidad. Ileana Diaz y Roberto Cartaya_0 Dr. Ileana Díaz y Dr. Roberto Cartaya La producción agricola y ganadera en 2009. Armando Nova_0 Dr. Armando Nova González La universidad, la economía y el desarrollo. Juan Triana_0 Dr. Juan Triana Cordoví Los cambios estructurales e institucionales. Pavel Vidal_0,  Dr. Pavel Vidal Alejandro

Universidad de la Habana, “Alma Mater”

Posted in Blog | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Cuba Calls for “Cyberdefence” of the Revolution

Original here: Cuba calls for “cyberdefence” of the revolution

By Isaac Risco Dec 2, 2011, December 2, 2011

HAVANA: Just days after Cuban dissident blogger Yoani Sanchez was named one of the world’s 100 “most influential global thinkers” by US magazine Foreign Policy, the Cuban government is

preparing for “active cyberdefence”.

Despite poor Internet access for the average Cuban, which the authorities in Havana blame on the US embargo, Cuba is now stressing the importance of “occupying the web”. The website Cubadebate, the main pro-government online news outlet, has called for a move “from cyberwarfare to active cyberdefence”.

Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez on Wednesday urged more active involvement in the web and for greater defence mechanisms to fight what the island regards as the hostile attitude of major media outlets. “Euphoria over social networks co-exists with the risk of regime change operations, which has increased, as has the threat to peace. But these dangerous conditions make it necessary and urgent for us to make those platforms our own,” he said. “It is essential to have a political strategy in cyberspace.”

Rodriguez was addressing a workshop on “Alternative Media and Social Networks” with participants from 12 countries, to which Sanchez complained she and other bloggers critical of the government had not been invited. The authorities continue “to exclude the alternative part of (Cuba’s) blogosphere and twittosphere,” Sanchez wrote on Twitter. On her Twitter feed, @yoanisanchez, the 36-year-old regularly criticises Cuban authorities for their attitude to the Internet, among other things. Her campaign to denounce what she termed “political apartheid” at the event reached her more than 180,000 Twitter followers.

Indeed, on Wednesday, Foreign Policy said Sanchez’s influence shows “that the Internet really does go everywhere, even Castro’s Cuba”.

Sanchez, in turn, wrote on Twitter of the limitations of online stardom in communist Cuba. “Beautiful paradoxes of life. My name on FP’s list of 100 thinkers, and me now ‘thinking’ how to stretch the rice so as to get to the end of the month,” she wrote in a post.

Such “cyberwarfare” has been waged for some time. Blogs like Vision desde Cuba, which openly support the government, seek to counter the influence of those like Sanchez’s.

Despite “the limitations inherent to narrow bandwidth” and the “archaic and extremely slow dial-up connections”, Vision desde Cuba writes that “revolutionary bloggers” like himself back the government against those who, they argue, are being financed from abroad. Havana has traditionally accused dissidents of accepting funds from the United States.

Cubadebate has carried out a broad campaign to promote the use of social networks. Editor Rosa Miriam Elizalde asked in an article that readers “accept the technological challenge”. “I do not have the slightest doubt that if (Cuban national hero) Jose Marti were alive today he would be on Facebook and Twitter,” she said.

Mariela Castro, daughter of the Cuban leader as well as head of Cuba’s National Centre for Sex Education, also recently entered the world of Twitter. She openly confronted Sanchez, among others, in defence of the Cuban government.

Protagonists:

Mariela Castro, Daughter of the Regime

Yoani Sanchez, Daughter of the Revolution

Posted in Blog | Tagged , , | Leave a comment