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Cuba: Blocking Bloggers

Want to get the Cuban blogosphere talking? Block access to a popular blog. Ever since Cuban authorities did just that to several less-than-supportive Havana-based blogs earlier this week, the blogging diaspora have come out in full support of Cuban bloggers – especially Yoani Sanchez and her popular Generacion Y blog, which, according to this post, seems to be the principal target.

GY 2

El Diario de la Resistencia II and Cuba File quote from the Reuters story:

Sanchez, whose critical Generacion Y blog received 1.2 million hits in February, said Cubans can no longer visit her Web page (http://www.desdecuba.com/generaciony/) and two other home-grown bloggers on the Web site on a server in Germany.

All they can see is a “error downloading” message.

The Cuban Triangle, however, in touch with friends in Cuba, reports that “the site was blocked, then ‘a slow access’ was permitted.” But this “slow access” does nothing to change the opinion of El Cafe Cubano, who compares Raul Castro's regime to apartheid:

While the media and some bloggers are praising raulita like he's some sort of saint or the catalyst for FREEDOM. He's using the Chinese model FOLKS! Wow computers are available now, but no one can afford them and as you can see the internet is restricted.

Blog for Cuba adds:

What will Cubans do with all those new computers? One thing for sure, they won't be reading Cuban blogs that voice dissent. Raul the reformer, remains Raul the Oppressor.

Blue Star Chronicles is not at all surprised, but admits to being a little confused:

Don’t the progressives (aka communist) of our country just love the current Cuban form of government. I keep hearing how superior it is to ours. I keep hearing how they have a better medical care system, etc. Of course, the people who say that are almost exclusively well-to-do latte liberals who don’t have to live under the confines of a petty dictator. I’ve not seen a one of them actually move there.

Tim Worstall echoes his sentiment in this post, while TonyTeri.com acknowledges that “it takes extreme guts for her (Sanchez) to write about what she does. She actually has to roam about Cuba blogging from hotels and other areas with Internet access usually reserved for foreigners.” Underscoring this point is 1Click2Cuba:

Blogging in Cuba can get you in a heap of trouble (translation: jail), but that threat hasn't stopped hundreds of bloggers on the island determined to get their messages out. Lately, Cuban bloggers have taken to dressing like tourists, feigning accents and secretly using hotel internet lines (native Cubans aren't allowed inside tourist hotels). Once inside the hotel, Yoani Sanchez has to write fast. Not only because she fears getting caught, but because online access is prohibitively expensive. An hour online costs about $6, the equivalent of half of what the average Cuban make in a month. Independent bloggers like Sanchez have to build their sites on servers outside Cuba, and they have more readers outside Cuba than inside.

Readership in fact extends to other Caribbean territories and Child of the Revolution notices that “the attempt to effectively shut down the sometimes critical blog has received wide coverage in the international media, in outlets as diverse as The Sun Sentinel and the Left-leaning London daily, The Guardian.”

Jefferson Lives posts a thoughtful perspective on the situation, saying:

I have always found it fascinating that each country can have its own laws regarding something that is supposed to be the World Wide Web. Understandably it is tough to regulate something on a global scale. However, valuable information and potential freedoms are being violated repeatedly by restricting freedom of the press and freedom to post on a global scale. This begs this question, in an arena without borders, is Cuba violating essential rights for citizens in the US by restricting this website for all to see, or just their citizens?

…while Uncommon Sense asks:

Looking for an easy way to stick it to the Cuban dictatorship?
Visit Generación Y, the most popular Cuba-based blog.

2 comments

  • Wow, this must be a first. A “banned” blog that keeps getting updated by its host in Havana (Yoani posted updates today and yesterday). She claims slow access, but admits other non-political sites have had trouble recently (something Spanish reports have emphasized but gets left out of the US media). One might think if the authorities really wanted to block access to the blog, they would not allow it to be updated and read? But Cuba has long been a place where truth is malleable.

  • Catfish99

    News of Yoani’s inability to leave Havana (Cuba) to pick up her Ortega y Gasset Prize is mentioned in an article in today’s El Pais

    Another related development – it seems that her site, and the portal that she runs is now unavailable. A visit this morning to

    http://www.desdecuba.com/generaciony/
    http://www.desdecuba.com

    reveals a rather stark – page unavailable – error. It could mean the site is getting a lot of hits, or something more ominous – such as her site being taken down by the Cuban authorities, hackers, or something else.

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