It may completely contradict the facts and sound completely ridiculous, but you can rest assured the “Cuba Experts” and the pro-Castro lobby here in the U.S. will blame U.S. sanctions for the lack of internet freedom in Cuba.
Cuba clamps down on Wi-Fi networks
The little-known nets allow members to exchange information and entertainment materials.
When the illegal Wi-Fi network in the Havana neighborhood of Mantilla was up and running, 120 members could play computer games and exchange news, movies and TV shows with each other far from the watchful eye of the communist government.
But then, a May 25 raid by State Security agents, police and employees of the state-owned ETECSA telecommunications monopoly seized several computers and powerful Wi-Fi signal boosters, and shut down the network.
The raid also cast a spotlight on the island’s Wi-Fi networks, one of several semi-secret and mostly illegal ways that a growing number of tech-savvy Cubans use to exchange uncensored information and entertainment.
There are applications that allow smartphone owners to chat and search the Web — without actual Internet access. There are programs that allow them to send encrypted messages to each other, and that automatically send them the day’s top news — and even horoscopes — as emails.
In the country with the worst Internet penetration in the Western Hemisphere, illegal telephone and Internet “companies” use satellite phones to bypass ETECSA and State Security. And there are social media platforms for Cubans with names like La Cubanada and Despierta Cuba (Wake Up Cuba).
Cuban authorities regularly attack such innovations, calling them part of a U.S. “cyber-war” to topple the regime. Indeed, the U.S. Agency for International Development financed the development of ZunZuneo, a controversial Twitter-like platform for Cubans.
But many of the new technologies used on the island are off-the-shelf, developed abroad and imported by Cubans for their personal use — and are evidence that the government is losing the battle to control access to the Internet and uncensored information.
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