Posted by: Maher | August 26, 2007

BBC Plug for El Cubano de la Isla

Castro’s health: A Cuban blogger’s view

Many Cubans remain unsure whether their long-serving president Fidel Castro will be well enough to return to power. Here Cuban blogger El Cubano de la Isla , or Cuban of the Island, describes how Cubans remain in the dark over their ailing leader’s condition and how difficult it is to discuss the issue online.

The Cuban people don’t know exactly what is wrong with Fidel but everybody knows he’s not well.

People think that if he was in good health he would have appeared on TV by now, just to say a few words to his people.

In the most recent TV images – which everybody agrees should not have been shown – we saw a Fidel Castro who is too old to return to power, even if his health recovers.

  By having a blog, you are daring to talk about certain themes openly, so it makes it quite risky
El Cubano de la Isla

Everybody in Cuba, even his enemies, recognise his stature as a personality and the way he towers over the life of Cuba with his mere presence. But this image of power and magnificence has been diminished recently. Now all we see is an old man.

As for what will happen in Cuba if Castro dies, this provokes mixed feelings. Most people agree that Cuba needs to change and reform.

People are sure that when Fidel dies a process of change will begin in Cuba, and while many Cubans long for this change, they are very afraid of it at the same time.

State-controlled information

Twenty years ago, expressing opinions contrary to those of the government in the street could result in a beating from passers-by.

Today, things are very different. You can say whatever you like in the street without anything happening to you. People have lost that political fanaticism.

But that is only in the street, among the ordinary people. Questioning any official policy or leader in front of an official or policeman is classified as subversion. There is no middle ground – you are either with the government or against it. Similarly, the internet is completely under state control. The state monopolises 100% of the information that a normal Cuban receives – the internet is seen as a threat to the system.

Most people who have access to the internet only do so from a state-run workplace, like a university or a hospital. Even in those places, there are many restrictions on internet access.

There is also an internet “black market” – people who can afford it can try to get internet services in their homes, but they are a minority.

I would go so far as to say that less than 1% of the Cuban population have internet access in their homes.

Daring to blog

More internet cafes are opening, but the prices are very high for the average Cuban.

The first cybercafes to open here were only for foreigners – Cubans were not allowed to enter.

As a result of these severe restrictions, there are very few bloggers in Cuba.

Most Cuban bloggers, and the people they exchange opinions and comments with, are members of the exile communities outside Cuba.

By having a blog, you are talking openly about certain themes and it can be quite risky.

That is why I use a pseudonym – because it is important for me to be able to say what I believe.
El Cubano de la Isla was interviewed via e-mail by the BBC News website’s Stephen Fottrell and Matias Zibell-Garcia of BBCMundo.com.

Story from BBC NEWS:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/2/hi/talking_point/6298781.stm

Published: 2007/01/25 17:24:52 GMT

© BBC MMVII


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