Cuba and the Internet
Source Louis Proyect
Date 04/02/07/12:39

An Opinion on the Internet in Cuba

by Jose Steinleger
La Jornada
February 06, 2004

Syllogism: an argument containing two premises from which a conclusion is
derived; i.e.: "The United States maintains an economic blockade on Cuba;
such blockade influences all aspects of life in Cuba." Besides the
propositional context..., what valid conclusion is obtained from both
premises? In school, we learned that a syllogism constitutes a tautology
because its conclusions are rigorous.

There are two categories of syllogism: hypothetical and disjunctive.
Hypothetical: "if Cuba submits, the revolution dies. Cuba submitted;
therefore the revolution died". A disjunctive syllogism contains a major
argument sustained by a major premise: "if Cuba submits, the revolution
betrays its principles and dies." It also contains a minor premise which
either affirms or denies the disjunctive: "it hasn't betrayed them,
therefore it hasn't died".

We also learned what a dilemma means: an ambiguous proposition that
contains two axioms and two premises, which function is to combine the
hypothetical and the disjunctive arguments; i.e.: "Socialism without
democracy is not socialism. Cuba is socialist, but not democratic;
therefore, Cuba is neither socialist nor democratic". Aristotle, however,
cautioned that a dilemma must be demonstrated.

Interesting? It depends. If we rationalize like a feverish desert-dweller
stranded in the arctic, the tedious task of discerning reality and
falsehood is therewith exonerated. Of course there would not be a dilemma,
but rather a self-inflicted hallucination. Therapy recommends
cross-referencing, examining sources and a small polycosanol pill (PPG),
daily which Cuban health officials prescribe to adults and the elderly
suffering of hypercholesterolemia, regardless of ideology.

Those on the left who don't take PPG, reckon the levels of freedom and
democracy in Cuba discriminating the social achievements from the injuries
exerted by the embargo. In the field of Information Science, for instance,
such achievements would remain at the margin of the contravention against
the stipulations of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) that
the United States performs in order to provoke internal subversion.
Therefore, Cuba cannot export or resell the software produced within its
borders, but rather it must purchase licenses, updates and technological
transfers through third party countries, with the subsequent increase in
prices and delays.

The Helms-Burton Act of 1996 upset the creation of a partnership which
would produce fiber optics, coaxial and data transmission cables. In 2003,
the Department of Commerce denied an export license to a California agency
wishing to donate 423 computers to hospitals and clinics in the island. The
Cuban internet connection lacks the adequate bandwidth to satisfy national
demand. The blockade forces the use of expensive, slow bandwidth and
satellite transmissions, easily avoided if a fiber optics cable ran between
Cuba and Florida.

To what valid premise obeys the omission of such prohibitions? Is there a
dilemma between "free speech" (ambiguous proposition) and the premises and
axioms regarding egregious losses which U.S. imperialism occasions Cuba in
the areas of basic and wireless telephony, electronic commerce, electronic
mail and internet access?

"Communication, information and education are now available to everybody
and anybody who can afford a computer and an internet account". The person
who wrote this lives in Nicaragua, a country where a scarce 0.04 percent
has internet access. With a population of 11 million, there are 480,000
users in Cuba (4.3 percent), according to the ITU. There's a similar
percentage in Mexico (4.6) and in Russia (4.2). In the Summit of the
Information Society (sic), an African delegate said: What are we talking
about? In my country we have 0.16 telephones for each 100 people!

Notwithstanding the cost of international connectivity, Cuba uses the
internet in a rational, creative and orderly manner. Instead of
prioritizing the residential and corporate markets (an endeavor which
belongs to telecommunication companies and international providers), the
most dynamic development of Cuban Information is dedicated to social,
cultural, educational and health issues. Every kid and youth in the country
has access to computers, even the elderly and children in daycare.

Yet, a marxist in slippers dares to scold the Cuban government for
implementing mechanisms which guarantee that the users pay. On the other
hand, I would admit that using the internet to copy music and refuse to pay
constitutes piracy; it would also be illegal that a person working at an
office or a university used the internet for personal gain. But when Cubans
sell internet accounts in the black market, stealing them from the
government, it constitutes freedom. Isn't everything supposed to be free in
a socialist and democratic revolution?

Translated by Miguel Alvarado

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