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Cuba: “Operation Cyber-Mambí”

Categories: Latin America, Cuba, Digital Activism, Freedom of Speech, Human Rights, Politics, Protest, Technology

There has been much speculation [1] of late as to whether the spirit of protest will find its way from Egypt [2] and Tunisia [3] to the Caribbean. Havana Times notes [4]:

“The Cuban government fears the emergence of an opposition movement on the Internet, which uses social networks like Facebook to organize actions against it similar to those that occurred in Ukraine, Iran and most recently in Egypt and Tunisia.”

El Pequeno Hermano [5] writes [6]:

I've heard all the arguments of the Egyptians. And do not think there is one, I repeat one, which does not apply to my country. The same hunger and hopelessness, the same distaste for an inept government, the very low wages that do not cover even to survive, corruption, underground, to warn, just look out the living standards of the ruling class, and now, ironically, Cuba also adds to the list of countries with high unemployment.

And then there is, inevitably, a pointed question: Why not Cuba?

If I had to answer, I'd begin by pointing out a subtle reality: the control of information…[in Cuba] is aberrantly fiercer than in countries like those that have seen protests [recently].

If the lock on the marketplace of information maintained by Castro's government is what's standing between discontented Cuban citizens and protest, then recent moves have come as no surprise to bloggers. A video available on Vimeo [7] or YouTube [8] betrays the government's fear of a flare-up on the island and its attempts to use “counterrevolutionary” bloggers’ tactics against them. It's part of an effort called “Operation Cyber-Mambí” which, El Pequeno Hermano writes [9], marks the Cuban government's “desperate struggle against the Alternative Platform blogs.”

Commenting on the video, Yoani Sanchez says [10] that the strategies recommended “will barely hurt the Cuban blogosphere” and that:

“the distribution of [the video] is proof positive that our government has lost the monopoly on information, including its classified materials. Viva Cubaleaks!”

Blogging is now beginning to be complemented in Cuba by Facebook activism, or at least that is what is suggested by a new group and event, “Protestas mundiales por Levantamiento popular en Cuba [11]” and page, “por el levantamiento popular en Cuba [12]” (for popular uprisings in Cuba), for which group membership has jumped from 600 to nearly 2200 people in five days.  Granted, the Facebook pages were created by Cuban exiles in Spain, but the hope is that they will ignite protest both abroad and on the island in response to the upcoming one-year anniversary of the death of hunger striker Orlando Zapato Tamayo [13].