Internet en Cuba

The Impossible Cuban Existence of Julian Assange / Yoani Sanchez

Translator: Unstated, Yoani Sanchez

I'm not going to analyze the ethical and journalistic implications of

Julian Assange's work. I confess that I sympathize in part with his

ideology, at least the part that proclaims the need for transparency in

diplomatic and government affairs. But in Cuba all the cables brought to

light by Wikileaks have not been published; they've barely even made

reference to those where the Cuban government comes out well. Hence, the

need for an connection to get an objective idea of the scope

and objectives of the phenomenon headed by this Australian, now granted

asylum in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London.

I can, however, arrive at a couple of conclusion, at least with respect

to the use being made of the "Assange Case" by the official Cuban press.

As I don't need the elusive fiber optic cable, nor an satellite

dish to watch the National News every day, this time I have all the

elements I need to form an opinion.

The first thing that comes to mind is that a government that has made

secrecy and silence a basic pillar of its power praises a hacker who

represents the exact opposite. As if the overbearing mother who has

locked her daughters in the house throws out a compliment to the

libertine whose offspring are running all over the neighborhood.

Ecuador's London Embassy where Assange has been given asylum. Photo:


The declassifier of memos is now applauded on our small screen by a

system that has been careful not to leave any traces of its outrages on

paper. The "Robin Hood of Information" himself — as some have called him

— receives approval from the Sheriff who has locked us in the feudal

castle of censorship. Something doesn't fit, right? How is it possible

that the promulgators of so many omissions now wave the flag of a man

who promotes the exact opposite?

The sudden fascination of the Cuban media with the Wikileaks director

can only be understood as a part of a shabby "anti-imperialism" where

"the enemy of my enemy is my friend" is always true. They even apply

that maxim in cases where the means are obviously divorced from the

ends, as is true for the information policy of 's government

and the massive "leaks" promoted by Julian Assange.

But the absurdity reaches incalculable heights when the "Roundtable" TV

program, known for its anti-journalism and complacency with power,

presents this young man of 41 as a hero of the web. This is, without a

doubt, the most contradictory thing I've seen lately… never mind that I

live in a land of great paradoxes.

If right now a young State Security official declassified the total

financial cost to the country of the operations focused on opponents and

the repudiation rallies against the Ladies in White, what would happen?

If tomorrow a doctor, motivated by personal and professional honesty,

published the real number of people infected with fever in Cuba,

what would they do to him?

Let's imagine a soldier — in the style of Bradley Manning — who leaked

military memoranda between the governments in Havana and in Caracas.

Would there be any clemency for him? And were it to be the case that

someone revealed the true dimensions of 's personal fortune,

would they let us hear about it?

If a simple personal of opinions brings down the entire repressive

apparatus against a citizen, it makes chills run down my spine to

imagine what would happen to someone who created a page of leaks and


But, let's look at that; authoritarian regimes don't leave their

footprints on paper. Their archives rarely contain anything that

compromises them because orders are given verbally and without

witnesses. They are specialists in sending someone to kill their

adversaries merely by the raise of an eyebrow, fomenting guerrilla

actions across a whole continent by whispering a few phrases, deploying

nuclear missiles in their territory under the impunity of silence, and

postponing for 15 years the publication of the death toll suffered in a

war on African soil.

But what these systems that are enemies of information are most skilled

in, is detecting potential Julian Assanges within their own countries.

They sniff them out from when they are young, when they ask questions

here and poke around there, when they don't go along with the pap that

passes for news on official TV and try to investigate further.

They watch them from the minute they start to question what's wrong and

stick their noses into some thorny issues. And then they act quickly

against them. Either buying them with some ephemeral privileges, or

making their lives impossible so they'll go into exile, or demonizing

them so no one will believe them.

There is no way to become a Julian Assange in Cuba and stay alive,

believe me.

23 August 2012

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