The PanAm Post has received a report from a well-known Cuban libertarian activist, stating that he could not access the website from Havana. To confirm, he sent us a video demonstrating that while other pages did work, the PanAm Post‘s did not. This adds yet another restriction on freedom of expression and access to information suffered by opponents of the Castro regime; a persecution that does not seem to have diminished with the recent change of government.
So far this year, Nelson Rodríguez Chartrand, founder of the Anarchocapitalist Libertarian Movement of Cuba, has been deprived of his freedom five times. Last year they seized the computer, under threat of not returning it if it had information contradicting the revolution or socialism; the computer was not returned. In a previous arrest, state security forces damaged his cell phone with acid.
The regime also denied him access to the internet. Since the state has a monopoly on telecommunications, it has the capacity to deny service to anyone it considers an enemy of the revolution; as has been the case with several political dissidents.
As we explained in a previous article, while the market provides alternatives to state control (through recharges with Bitcoin), every Cuban citizen who has an account in Nauta – the state operator, and the only existing internet service provider – enters their user identification in order to recharge credit. You have to go to a computer center to connect to the available machines and you are given time based on the amount of credit that you buy. On average, buying an hour of time costs more than a dollar.
Taking into account that the average salary in Cuba is around USD $20 per month, the cost of internet credit exceeds the average Cuban’s financial capabilities. That is, 20 hours of internet time costs more than the typical Cuban earns in a month.
In the case of political opponents such as Nelson, who is a lawyer, the regime prevents them from exercising their professions because they are considered “counterrevolutionary.” As such, their ability to connect to the internet is limited.
He has gone months without access to his Nauta account, forcing him to find alternative methods of internet access. But even now, using a different user name, he is unable to access articles about himself.
Imagine for a moment that the rest of the world can see articles about you, but you can not, because the government forbids it.
PanAm Post is considered a “subversive” publication by the Cuban police
When Nelson enters PanAm Post in the Google search engine, his name having been mentioned in several articles, he appears in the search results; however, he was unable to access the pages. First, it took a long time to load the articles, and finally an error message appeared. He tried several times with various methods, and he couldn’t access the articles in question.
In December of last year, a pro-Castro website published an article accusing the PanAm Post of participating in an Anti-cuban media war.
The restrictive policies extend not only to sympathizers of the regime, but also to state employees.
The PanAm Post has given visibility to various sectors of the opposition to denounce issues ranging from the lack of access (and quality) of basic services to the repression of basic civil liberties. During the recent arrests of Rodríguez Chartrand in the province of Camagüey, from where he was banished (in Cuba the government has the power to restrict access to the provinces in which its citizens live), the state forces informed him that the PanAm Post was considered a “subversive” publication.
We consulted several activists in Cuba and they indicate that in fact you can not access the PanAm Post page from a desktop computer. However, it can be done from a cell phone, although they clarify that the page takes a long time to load.
What happens in The Matrix, as in so many novels, series, and films that conjure up a dystopian future where those in power have the ability to restrict our access to information, in Cuba is the present.