Internet: Who Benefits from the U.S. Plans for Cuba?

A "task force" is a U.S. military term and defines a temporary unit settled to work in an operation or specific mission.

Following the guidelines outlined by president Donald Trump in his Presidential Memo of last June 16th, the U.S. government announced in late January the creation of a new Internet Task Force dedicated to subvert the internal order in Cuba.

According to the official statement issued by the Department of State, that Operative Group is made of government and non-government officials, with the objective of "promoting the free flow of information" in the neighboring Island.

Why aren’t we surprised? It’s because we Cubans will never forget our history. How to do so before machinery designed to manufacture subversive projects aimed at a “change of régime” and the permanent destruction of the Cuban Revolution?

For decades, along the United States –Cuba feud, sentences like to "work for the freedom of speech" and "expand the access to Internet in Cuba" has been used by Washington to mask destabilizing plans with the use of new technologies.

Zunzuneo

Certainly, these subversive plans are not new; they are from many years ago. Apparently, they present projects that might seem attractive, but in their core there is a meddling character, a cheating and subtle attempt of breaking the political system established in Cuba for more than half a century.

We Cubans know well that several North American agencies use the social networks as facades for the propaganda, the deceit, the massive messaging and the construction of fake stories. We already saw it in other countries of the world: in the first stage supposedly "regular" messages are sent like sport news, music and culture; and later they begin to introduce others with marked political content that encourage civil turmoil.

As for the files on the entities in charge of promoting the Internet Task Force against Cuba are scandalously shameful.

Internet: Who benefits from the U.S. plans for Cuba?

Certainly, it’s revolting that according to the official presentation, this group created by Washington has the task of analyzing "the technological challenges and the opportunities of widening Internet access in Cuba to help the Cuban people to enjoy a free and not regulated flow of information".

If the concern were true huge, why don't they explain that while a brutal and permanent media campaign tries to accuse the Cuban State of not increasing Internet service and other communication services; the United States blockade against Cuba prevents a greater and better access to Internet?

With many technological limitations, there’s a sovereign policy passed by the Cuban government that establishes the increasing computerization of society. There is still a long road ahead in the use of new technologies; but let nobody in Washington think that Cubans are a naïve people.

Internet: Who benefits from the U.S. plans for Cuba?

Cuba has repeatedly denounce that aggressions like these and other ways of unconventional war will never be able to stop the Cuban government's efforts to use new technologies seeking the common well-being, the economic, cultural and social development of its nation.

The new Internet Task Force dedicated to subvert Cuba’s domestic order is nothing but another chapter in the violent and shameful politics of the United States against the Cuban nation.

Washington put together this task force in a moment that firm steps are taken toward the computerization of society, with a vision that gives priority to the social access and protects Cuba’s sovereignty, despite the economic limitations.

As a sovereign decision, without conditions, or impositions, the Cuban government has reiterated that it will continue moving forward its strategy of computerization of society and the gradual increase of Internet access for the citizens.

ETECSA Enhances Connectivity to the Rest of the World with SES Networks

Cubans and visitors to Cuba will have additional access to reliable and uninterrupted connectivity throughout the main island of Cuba as ETECSA, Cuba’s national telecommunications operator, signed a deal with SES Networks for satellite services, SES announced today.

“Our unique network capabilities and suite of managed services allows ETECSA to guarantee their customers access to the best satellite internet technology available.”

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SES Networks will augment ETECSA’s existing terrestrial infrastructure with its high-performance fibre-like medium earth orbit (MEO) capacity and improve connectivity for end-customers of the Cuban operator.

“By working with SES Networks, we are ensuring that our customers across the main island will have a new way to access high-performing Internet at all times through this innovative satellite system. Our collaboration with SES Networks highlights ETECSA’s mission of providing telecommunications services that meet the current and future needs of Cuban citizens and our customers, as well as contributing to the country's socio-economic growth,” said Ing. Mayra Arevich Marín, executive president of ETECSA.

“The opportunity to work with organisations such as ETECSA that are consistently looking for ways to bring more reliable connectivity to their people is incredibly rewarding,” said Steve Collar, CEO of SES Networks. “Our unique network capabilities and suite of managed services allows ETECSA to guarantee their customers access to the best satellite internet technology available.”

ETECSA provides public telecommunications services throughout the territory of the Republic of Cuba.

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Internet is latest arena for U.S. intervention in Cuba

The State Department announced January 23 that it “is convening a Cuba Internet Task Force composed of U.S. government and non-governmental representatives to promote the free and unregulated flow of information in Cuba. The task force will examine the technological challenges and opportunities for expanding internet access and independent media in Cuba.”

The action was in line with President Trump’s memorandum in June 2017 on “Strengthening the Policy of the United States toward Cuba.” It conforms also with the Defense Department’s recently released “National Defense Strategy,” which indicates that “Today every domain is contested—air, land, sea, space, and cyberspace.”

In notes delivered to the U.S. embassy in Havana and to the State Department in Washington, Cuba’s Foreign Ministry rejected U.S. “pretensions of flagrantly violating Cuban sovereignty,” and demanded “again that the U.S. government end its subversive, meddling, and illegal actions which are attacks on Cuba’s stability and constitutional order.”

The task force is by no means an innovation. For decades the U.S. government has flooded Cuba with propaganda aimed at turning Cubans away from their government. With facilities on the Swan Islands, near the Honduran coast, the CIA’s Radio Swan began broadcasts to Cuba in 1960. The Reagan administration in 1981 set up a task force whose job was to prepare for broadcasts from Miami. Radio Martí commenced operations in 1985, TV Martí in 1990.

Under the authority of the Helms-Burton Law of 1996, which called for building a political opposition in Cuba, the Clinton administration expanded propaganda operations in order  “to open Cuba’s closed system and promote the growth of an independent civil society.” Changes in messaging would henceforth center on the internet.

U.S. agencies sought “to offer Cubans interactive access to materials from abroad” and to connect internet platforms in the United States with networks in Cuba. The U.S. Interests Section in Havana, precursor to the present embassy, offered courses to Cubans on managing the internet and blogs.

There were special projects. For example, the “ZunZuneo” scheme of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) in 2009 sought to bombard Cuban young people with direct messages through a program similar to Twitter. The Office for Cuba Broadcasting mounted its “Piramideo” program through which in 2011 a contractor sent 24,000 text messages each week to Cubans, having immobilized Cuban barriers beforehand. “Project Commotion” provided specialized equipment for dissidents active on the internet, thus enabling them to communicate easily with supporters abroad.

Throughout the entire era of shifting modalities, millions of dollars in funding were dispersed among U.S. agencies charged with implementing the interventionist programs.

The Obama administration continued in the same vein. In the wake of its opening to Cuba in late 2014, the U.S. telecommunications industry gained approval for establishing commercial ties with Cuban enterprises. For almost all other sectors of the U.S. economy, commercial relations in Cuba remained off limits.

Of the $20 million the U.S. government was spending annually on winning friends in Cuba, Obama’s administration dedicated a large portion to digital projects. Speaking to the press on December 19, 2014 Obama extolled “the prospect of telecommunications and the Internet being more widely available in Cuba. [That] chips away at this hermetically sealed society.”

In a public event February 7, the State Department inaugurated its Cuba Internet Task Force. A press release indicated that, “the task force agreed to form two subcommittees, one to explore the role of media and freedom of information in Cuba, and one to explore Internet access in Cuba.” The task force, unbudgeted, will meet next in October to hear reports from the subcommittees and to make recommendations.

Deputy Assistant Secretary for Western Hemisphere Affairs John S. Creamer chairs the group. Members include the Office of Cuba Broadcasting, responsible for operating Radio and TV Martí; the Federal Communications Commission, the telecommunications section of the Department of Commerce; USAID; and Freedom House.

Freedom House, ostensibly independent, in 2016 received 82 percent of its funding from the U.S. government. One expert holds that Freedom House has long served the CIA by providing foreign media with reports and analyses reflecting official U.S. perspectives.

At the meeting, according to a report, “several Cuban dissidents used a public comment period to lambast Cuba’s government, drawing comparisons to World War II and to the governments of Syria and Iran. Yet most of the public comments centered on a critique of a decades-old economic embargo and Trump’s policy toward Cuba.”

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Trump, the "Fake News" and the Cuba Internet Task Force

Just as it had been announced a week ago the Department of State summoned last Wednesday February 7th the first meeting of the Task Group dedicated to "increase" access to "information" and internet in Cuba.

As the official note reports at the website of the Department of State, the "Internet Team of Cuba made up by government and non-government representatives during next year will examine the technological challenges and opportunities to expand Internet access in Cuba with the objective of helping the Cuban people to enjoy the free and not regulated flow of information".

The new Cuba Internet Task Force is presided over by the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Statefor the Western Hemisphere, John S. Creamer, and besides the Department of State, for other entities like the Cuba Broadcasting Office, the Federal Commission for Communications, the National Administration of Telecommunications and Information of the Commerce Department, the U.S. Agency for International Development, Freedom House and the Information Technology Industry Council. All of them, as it’s known, with backgrounds in the history of subversive war of the United States against Cuba.

According to several sources, to the meeting held under fluorescent illumination at a conferences room in the basement of the Department of State, several representatives of the so-called Cuban opposing groups and local entities that promote the full restitution of diplomatic relationships attended.

As expected, AP reported, the "opposers", responding to the voice of their master, they used the public space to charge against the Cuban government, making comparisons with the Second World War and with governments from Syria and Iran.

However, and according to AFP, the representatives of the American civil society were not very impressed with the outlined objectives.

According to French agency, lawyer Tony Martínez questioned that? There isn’t in the Department of State any specific group on internet on any other country. Why? Do they believe this is the way to attain the expected changes??

The same source highlighted that activist Cheryl LaBash pointed out that in Detroit, her city in 2015 the 40% of the population didn’t have access to internet. I think that the best way of improving access to internet in Cuba would be to negotiate with the Cuban government in a respectful way. Have any of you been in Cuba? LaBash’s question to the members of the group only receive silence for an answer.

The always present topic of the so-called "independent" media on its defense some argued that any North American plan would backfire because it would undermine the independence and credibility that it’s perceived in the flourishing "independent" media in Cuba.

On the other hand, the leader of the group, Undersecretary of State John Creamer who must deliver a final report by late October with recommendations to the Secretary of State and the President, remarked that the Cuban government leaks and blocks websites in an attempt to prevent Cubans from having the opportunity to criticize Cuban institutions and politicians. These sort of aggressive acts have a chilling effect in the exercise of freedom of speech.

Speaking of freedom of speech, the new task force created by the U.S. government for the media subversion against Cuba, it should concentrate its efforts and resources to take care of the problems that in this regard the United States face at present.

As the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein alerted in Geneva: "the freedom of press and the integrity of journalists are at stake in the United States under the Administration of President Donald Trump.

"Trump is undermining the freedom of press, while dangerous events already in motion could lead to an increase of violence against journalists", said Zeid in that opportunity.

The official spoke of Trump’s constant accusations that the media produce fake news, the famous term coined by the leader to refer to lies or false news, and his repeated verbal attacks against the newspapers The New York Times, The Washington Post or the television CNN.

On top of that, in January this year, the International Press Institute (IPI) announced that it will carry an international mission to the United States to evaluate the changes in the media and the freedom of press panorama and expose its concerns to the related authorities.

IPI, like the entire world, doesn't see with very good eyes those repeated attacks against journalists and media during Trump’s presidential campaign that included verbal harassment and denial of press credentials.

For anyone with some brains is highly counteractive and paradoxical that the first censor of the United States evaluates in October the "freedom of speech" in Cuba. There isn’t greater machinery of "fake news" than the one usually used by the sort of task force groups like the recently created against Cuba against those countries that don't bend before the imperial hegemony, like the cases of Venezuela, Iran or Syria.

It will certainly be unethical to criticize the fake news at home while they create media machineries to export to other nations.

Amilkal Labañino Valdés / Cubasí Translation Staff

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Phubbing Phenomenon: "So Close, Yet so Far"

Paradoxes of new Technologies of Information and Communications. To establish a middle ground in its use is imperative today.

"Do your bed, do the dishes after breakfast and go to the supermarket", says the mother to her young son before leaving fast for work. Ramón listened careful, but in the afternoon when she returns from work all is still untouched. He seated at his computer and hooked to his cell phone forgot about the world around him.

New technologies of information and communications (ITC) have been a real "blessing", mainly in professional environments. It would be unthinkable today to carry out certain actions or tasks, because in fact it has been "humanized", the intellectual work, so to speak.

But as any stage of life it has brought its inconveniences. Besides addiction in which many have been "entangled", it has also generated the so-called phubbing (term formed by the words phone and snubbing), which can be defined as the act of an individual or person to ignore its environment to concentrate on his mobile, either a cell phone, tablet, portable PC, or another smart device.

The phenomenon has spread worldwide, our country is not foreign to that, therefore it’s evident today in public places where, especially, Wi-Fi spots have been enabled. Many youngsters "fall" to the gifts of online communication and put little or no attention at all to what surrounds them.

Unplugged from the Surroundings and Connected to the Net

According to the information reviewed in Internet, phubbing appeared in year 2007 - at the same time smart phones appeared - and among the causes of its "birth" could be mentioned the addictive state new technologies have in a psychological and indirectly physiologic field, causing lack of attention to the surrounding environment and focusing on the virtual world.

Carola Junquera, student of Media and Entertainment Management, in an Argentinean university, explains it in an easy way to understand: "Disconnected from the surrounding environment and connected to Internet, so close, yet so far"

At present - she explains - technological devices occupy a significant space in the life of many individuals, especially adolescents. They don't know their life without internet, without television, without computers, without video games and without cell phones because they were born in the digital era.

"Before going to sleep, in class, in family reunions and/or with friends, in traffic, in times of waiting and at leisure, without caring where, when, neither with whom, youngsters are always facing a screen, in permanent contact with Information Technologies and Communication (ITC) ".

A connoisseur in the topic considers that on one hand ITC are tools that facilitate permanent contact with the other, and at the same time, they hinder the encounter body to body. Likewise, he affirms that its responsible use allows communication in all senses; it widens its reach and keeps the interpersonal encounter.

Does Connection imply Communication?

Object of study and theme of several investigations, phubbing has found a better "accommodation", in fact, in the child-juvenile public, in those born in the era of telecommunications and computer science development.

Some specialists acknowledged that today they are losing values and communication capacity among the youngest, although it’s undeniable that there is a greater access to information.

"(…) face-to-face communication still holds a fundamental weight for social interaction, but communication using ITC is more and more frequent. We find the virtual world simpler, faster, more effective and even almost more natural", stressed psychologist Arturo Clairá.

As Clairá says one of ITC’s main benefits is that it brings closer those who are faraway, but one of its threats is that they drive us away from those we have closest.

Specialists stand out the difference between being "communicated" and being "connected". "At present - he says - we are very connected and not very communicated. ITCs connect us, but they don't communicate us and as consequence we miss the real world, true experiences, close bonds, of looking at each other’s face, we miss our life."

The "abuse" of new technologies, a problem of today

According to consulted data, one out of four people suffers a problem related with the abuse of new technologies. Although it’s recognized that ITCs impact both youth and adults alike, it’s not less true that youths take the lead, for everything explained earlier.

Specialists and doctors see greater danger in the seclusion in which “fall” the limitless consumers of ITC and, in certain way, they establish a near relationship with the so-called Syndrome of Autistic Spectrum. The youngest tread into the world of video games and, sometimes, they are not able to tell the reality of what they see on their screens.

With the question of what to do, some say a review of themselves, since almost always children imitate all they see at home, besides the point of whether they were born with the new technologies. It’s recognized that the personal example is "the best remedy" against this sort of behaviors.

Psychologists, psychiatrists, academic, and teachers from Special Education endowed with great importance - for this and other behavior dysfunctions - to the realization group activities and outdoors, to face-to-face verbal communication, to team work, to collaborate with other people, to practice sports. In short, to socialize and share personal experiences.

Let’s keep in mind that there’s a wonderful and unique world outside mobile screens, computers and other smart devices due to the possibilities its apps provide us. There are tiny details, simple pleasures that change life.

Amilkal Labañino Valdés / Cubasi Translation Staff

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Cuba: WiFi zones to boost participation of the youngest population

The next opening of three new WIFI zones in Santa Clara, throughout the current summer period, will respond to ETECSA’s projection to boost surfing for children and youth.

The next opening of three new WIFI zones in Santa Clara, throughout the current summer period, will respond to the projection of the Telecommunications Enterprise of Cuba S.A. (ETECSA) to boost domestic websites surfing for children and young people.

In statements to ACN, Dianitsy Barreto, ETECSA’s communication specialist in the province, said that the imitative seeks to make visible the contents made from and about Cuba and that nurture this age segment with knowledge: Ecured and Cubaeduca are two of these platforms, for example.
 
Although they have the same characteristics as the connection spots already installed in several sites in Villa Clara, the aim is to educate them when choosing the contents, and the focus falls on the places where they will be located.

According to Barreto, the first inauguration is foreseen at El Parque de la Audiencia, but later it will be transferred to the nearby Pioneers Palace, currently in renovation stage; as well as outside the Augusto César Sandino stadium on its third-base side, which therefore will light up most of the sports facility.
 
Then, the third zone would be in the vicinity of the Camilo Cienfuegos Zoo Park and in some way they all join together to strengthen the reanimation program of the central region “Villa Clara con Todos” (Villa Clara with All), Barreto added.
 
Seeking the inclusion of children and youth, no matter others wish to use the service, with emphasis on the domestic surfing also responds to the reduction of this modality to 0.10 CUC/hour, since March this year, and is another of the options facilitating web access to users.
 
Barreto explained the new tariff price is only applicable to permanent Nauta accounts, which at the same time have two modalities: international surfing with international mailing and the aforementioned domestic surfing.

Nevertheless, she remarked that users can indistinctively interact with the two types, depending on the modality they choose.
 
The specialist concluded that in addition, so far July her enterprise opened two spots for wired connection in such towns as Calabazar de Sagua, in Encrucijada, and Rancho Veloz, in Corralillo, in accordance with ETECSA’s policy to take WIFI service to second towns within the province.

Translated by Jorge Mesa Benjamin / Cubasi Translation Staff

Iraq or Syria? Trump recalls dessert perfectly, forgets who he bombed & internet erupts

US President Donald Trump revealed he informed Chinese Premier Xi Jinping about the US air strike on a Syrian military base as the pair ate "the most beautiful" chocolate cake. He then mixed up Syria and Iraq – and the internet had a meltdown.

Trump was speaking with Fox Business about the bizarre exchange with Chinese leader during a summit at his Mar-a-Lago estate.

We had finished dinner, we’re now having dessert,” Trump began. “And we had the most beautiful piece of chocolate cake that you’ve ever seen and President Xi was enjoying it.

READ MORE: Trump says he told Xi how he bombed Syria over ‘most beautiful piece of cake’

We’ve just fired 59 missiles, all of which hit by the way, unbelievable, from hundreds of miles away, it’s brilliant, it’s genius, what we have in terms of technology no-one can come close to competing,” he continued.

So I said, we’ve just launched 59 missiles, heading to Iraq,” said the President, seemingly oblivious to his mistake. http://gph.is/1TUMIPk

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Heading to Syria,” host Maria Bartiromo interjected. “Yes,” Trump replied, “heading toward Syria.”

Naturally, Twitter was set alight by the gaffe.

@ChelseaClinton Disturbing that Trump remembers what he ate (chocolate cake) - but not where he sent missiles (Syria, not Iraq as he says until corrected) https://twitter.com/kylegriffin1/status...

@RegBarclay2017 Trump: President Xi, I just want you to know I just fired 59 cruise missiles at [Iraq] Syria.

@BraddJaffy Trump: Over dessert “I said we’ve just launched 59 missiles heading to Iraq”

@LawyerRogelio Trump he can remember that they were eating a beautiful chocolate cake but can't remember that the missiles were sent to Syria and NOT Iraq. pic.twitter.com/U00hvhPhij

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Assange's internet link intentionally severed by state party - WikiLeaks

WikiLeaks has activated “contingency plans” after its co-founder’s internet service was intentionally cut off by a state actor, the media organization said in a tweet.
 
@wikileaks Julian Assange's internet link has been intentionally severed by a state party. We have activated the appropriate contingency plans.

The internet is one of the few, if not only, available ways for Julian Assange, who has been locked up in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London for more than four years, to maintain contact with the outside world.

READ MORE: WikiLeaks cancels Assange’s live balcony appearance over ‘security concerns’

Facing extradition to Sweden over allegations of rape, which he denies, the Australian computer programmer has been holed up in the embassy in West London since 2012.

He claims the extradition is actually a bid to move him to a jurisdiction from which he can then be sent to the US, which is known to be actively investigating WikiLeaks. 

The unverified claims of state sabotage come as WikiLeaks continues to release damaging documents, most recently thousands of hacked emails from Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager John Podesta.

Earlier this month, Assange claimed his organization would aim to publish documents “every week” in the run up to US Election Day on November 8. 

Clinton’s campaign has made unsubstantiated claims that WikiLeaks is working with the Russian government to help defeat the Democrat in favor of Trump.

Last week the FBI reissued a statement saying it was working to “determine the accuracy, nature and scope” of cyber intrusions, but did not name any suspected perpetrators.

READ MORE : Podesta files: Top 10 revelations from leaked Clinton campaign emails

The ninth release of Podesta emails occurred on Sunday, bringing the total number of leaked files to over 12,000.

Among the hundreds of emails released are discussions about Clinton’s appeal among black voters, her email apologies, and Chelsea Clinton being described by one of her father’s longtime aides as a ‘backstabber’.

The batch also comes amid revelations of Clinton’s cozy relationship with the mainstream media, and how they work closely to control the media landscape and set up stories that show her in a favorable light.

Earlier this month, it emerged that Hillary Clinton reportedly wanted to “drone” WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange when she was the US secretary of state.

According to True Pundit, Clinton and the State Department were under pressure to silence the whistleblower in the months before WikiLeaks dumped some 250,000 diplomatic cables from 1966 to 2010, dubbed CableGate.

Unidentified State Department sources claimed Clinton asked “can’t we just drone this guy?”.

READ MORE: Hillary Clinton considered drone attack on Julian Assange - report

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