Cubans Wonder What Is The Heart of the Internet?

“The virtual world of ITC reflects the problems and contradictions of the real world today.” – Abel Prieto Jiménez, Presidential Advisor

(June 8, 2015) – Havana, Cuba 

Source – Granma, Official Voice of the Communist Party of Cuba Central Committee (

 

The Second International ICT Conference: A New Stage for Political Communication in the Digital Environment 2015 took place June 5-7 in Havana, Cuba. Delegates from more than 30 countries “discussed the need to create an inter-governmental mechanism to allow all countries to play an equal role in establishing Internet policies,” according to Amaya Saborit Alfonso of Granma (Official Voice of the Communist Party of Cuba Central Committee).

Photo: Kjgomez/Wikimedia Commons)

Photo:Paul Keller / Creative Commons

As reported by Alfonso:

Abel Prieto Jiménez, Cuban Presidential advisor, emphasized that “new clear, decolonizing conceptions of internet and information technology must be developed…It must be an effort on the part of all governments to ensure in the near future that the Internet is a zone of peace, as CELAC (the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States) has proposed, and not a theater of military operations,” he said, adding that technology reigns supreme “… without memory, defenseless in the face of manipulation, egotistical. The virtual world of ITC reflects the problems and contradictions of the real world today.”

He continued, saying, “The dilemma presented by the hegemonic machine is even more radical: Either you definitively join in or you don’t exist.”

Prieto noted that currently, “Two opposite, antagonistic poles can be discerned among users. One which appropriates ITC to construct nuclei of cultural resistance, from different points of view, and the other which shares the codes and models of the traditional communications media.”

Concluding his remarks, Prieto added that beyond pragmatically making use of digital platforms to facilitate financial transactions and make our institutions more visible, etc, what is needed is re-thinking technology as a component – along with the economy, politics, and culture – essential to society’s development, and the intellectual, professional, spiritual and political growth of human beings.

FIRST FREE WIFI

Cuba approved the first free wi-fi public access point in April, 2015, according to Raw Science TV. Cuba’s state telecom agency Etecsa granted approval to the artist Kcho as reported by the BBC on March 16, 2015. According to the BBC, the sculptor Kcho “is perhaps the only artist the government would permit to run a public access wi-fi service. The last time Fidel Castro was seen in public was at an exhibition by the contemporary artist.”

According to the Wall Street Journal, 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. The US Government recently sent a delegation to Cuba on March 25, 2015 to meet with the Cuban government to discuss the future of telecommunications and internet. In January 2015, the US government permit the shipment of mobile phones and laptops to Cuba.  Netflix launched in Cuba in February, 2015. According to the Tampa Tribune, young Cubans were already devising ways to access wifi in advance of the availability.

 

For years, Cuba accessed the internet using satellites meaning slow connections and limited data. This could certainly change in the future with low cost satellite launches to space.

 

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Havana is occupied by foreign forces and on the edge of civil war. Lazaro, a kid from the slums, walks through his streets and reveals the chaos that has taken over the capital.

 

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Main Photo credit: Jorge Royan, Wikimedia Commons

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