Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Cuba's Joint Venture Phone Company, In Bed With The Censorship

Yoani Sanchez - Award-Winning Cuban Blogger
Posted: November 29, 2010 07:10 PM

Cuba's Joint Venture Phone Company, In Bed With The Censorship

Dark night, a blackout in the vicinity of the Buena Vista neighborhood
in Playa. The dilapidated shared taxi I'm taking stalls, and with an
exhausted snort refuses to start again. A passenger and the driver are
trying to fix it, while on both sides of the street we see people are
sitting outside their houses, resigned to the power outage. I look in my
wallet for my mobile, wanting to tell my family I'm delayed so they
won't worry about me. It's an ugly picture: we are surrounded by
darkness, in an area where crime isn't child's play, and to top it off
my cellphone doesn't work. Every time I try to dial a number I get the
message, "Call Failed." Finally, the car is purring again and we manage
to advance, but the telephone service is not restored to the useless
gadget and I feel like throwing it out the window. When I get home I
discover that Reinaldo can't call from his, either, and that my blogger
friends can't even receive text messages.

Our only mobile phone company cut the service for all of Friday night
and part of Saturday, canceling for more than 24 hours a service for
which we paid in convertible currency. With its announcements of
"instant communication," Cubacel comports itself as if it is an
accomplice to the ideologically motivated censorship; supporting the
reprimand from the political police, it puts an error message on our
screens. It uses its monopoly power to punish those clients who deviate
from the official line of thought. Part of its business capital,
provided by foreign investors, is used to support the infrastructure of
a momentary or prolonged boycott of certain cell phone numbers. A
contradictory role for a company that should connect us to the world,
not leave us hanging when we need it most.

It is not the first time this has happened. Every so often someone flips
a switch and leaves us in silence. Curiously, it happens when there is
important news to report and urgent information to bring to light. The
forced cancellation of the concert by the group Porno Para Ricardo may
have been the trigger for the phone company to violate his own maxim of
keeping us, "in touch with the world." The possible cremation of the
body of Orlando Zapata Tamayo and everything that is happening around
that event could be another reason to turn off our voices. What is
certain is that on Friday night -- in the midst of the darkness and
worry -- Cubacel failed me again, showing me the military uniform that
hides beneath its false image as a corporate entity.

Yoani's blog, Generation Y, can be read here in English translation.
Translating Cuba is a new compilation blog with Yoani and other Cuban
bloggers in English.

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