Sunday, May 8, 2011

Yuma stay home!

Wow -- it is sad to read that professor Ted Henken is persona non grata in Cuba as a result of his conducting interviews of Cuban bloggers. I don't want to be political in this blog, but since his research was Internet related, I will say a few words.

I've never met professor Henken, but his writing makes it clear that he is not partial or one-sided. He says he is "against both blockades -- that of the US against Cuba and that of the Cuban government against its own people." That reminds me of a colleague who was at Radio Marti several years ago and told me that he knew he was doing his job well when both sides were angry with him. Nothing that is interesting is black or white.

I have much less Cuban expertise or experience than Professor Hencken, and have not been to Cuba for over ten years, but my experience at that time was one of openness. There were no bloggers at the time, so I had to talk mostly with the establishment. I met technical people, policy people and a few underground hackers during my trips to Cuba. I was watched. The people I met knew who I was and had read things I had written. They knew I had published reports for the "evil" Rand Corporation. Still they treated me with respect as a professional who had no political axe to grind.

One might argue that Henken's treatment was because he lied by traveling with a tourist visa. But, I don't think he would have had a problem if he had been doing interviews for a pro-government newsgroup like CubaNews, in which the majority of the contributions are by Walter Lippmann, who lives in the US and travels extensively in Cuba.

Evidently, the increased visibility and importance of the Internet has caused a tightening of control. Perhaps I would no longer be welcome in Cuba either.

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