Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Criticism is not subversive

"Write criticism, the party will support you."
Raúl Castro, addressing the union of Cuban journalists, March 1980.

Josefina Vidal, Director General of the Department of the United States at the Cuban Ministry of Foreign Affairs, tweeted that the Internet Freedom Conference next week is subversive -- "The illegal use of radio and television against Cuba is not enough for them, they insist on the use of the Internet as a weapon of subversion."

Her statement is based upon the fact that the conference is sponsored by the US government, but, if she would look beyond that, she would have a more nuanced view. (Note that I have been invited to participate in the conference and will have my travel expenses paid, but will not be compensated for the four days I spend).

For example, if she would read my blogs, reports and papers, she would see that I have been critical of the politics and Internet regulation and policies of both Cuba and the United States, but I am not trying to subvert either government. She would also see that I have recognized Cuban achievements and made many suggestions for improving Cuba's Internet infrastructure and policy. Whatever I have written or done has been pro-Internet, not anti-Cuban government.

As Cuban blogger Carlos Alberto Carlos Alberto Pérez said "I don't criticize to knock the system down. On the contrary, I criticize to perfect the system."

There are hard-liners in Cuba and the US, but after many years they seem to be following bureaucratic, party-line protocols, which call for rote repetition of tired sentences. I am confident that there are Cuban technicians and policy makers who realize the possibility of leapfrogging today's technology and policy just as there are many in the US who realize that our Cuba policy has been unproductive. It is time to look to the future.

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