Saturday, January 7, 2012

Cuba’s internet myths disclosed

As the Cuban saying goes: “it is easier to catch a liar than to catch a lame”. And that could happen if you search carefully internet, and read with attention the information the web discloses to us just with the touch of our finger in any internet web engine like GOOGLE. I usually do, don't you?
It is well known that 71% of tweets get absolutely no response (get those numbers in Sysomos website). So, for too many of the social networks users, information is just that: a leave on the air that just a few hands catch them.
So, it is not rare to get many of the Cuba’s agents in Twitter declaring without fear to be caught lying that “they are just locals tweeting from the comfort of their homes”. That lie is not perceive as it, because in our time we, as citizens of the modern era, have a computer at home, an internet provider and usually our teenager kids are tweeting from our computers (or their computers). It is a fact... but it is not a fact in Cuba.
As you can see in the next figure from the last report written by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) named: “Measuring the Internet Society-2011”.
As you can see, in 2010 Cuba has only the 3.4% of its households with computers and the percentage of the households with internet was only 0.6%. So, WHO ARE THE ONES ACCESSING INTERNET IN CUBA?
Do you think they are a simple, regular Cuban who doesn’t have even time to make a decent living to have a regular meal on his kitchen table? I don’t think so. But just let’s get closer and just compare Cuba with Djibouti: I would tell you it is an eye-opener. Check the next figure out:
Djibouti in 2010 has 13.0% of households with computers meanwhile Cuba only has 3.3%, and don’t even mention the percentage of households with internet: Djibouti 2.2% and Cuba only 0.6. Isn’t it something?
Ah, don’t forget to search in Wikipedia what it is DJIBOUTI. It is an African Islamic country settled in the horn of Africa and it is mainly a stony semi desert with the two-third of inhabitants living in the Capital city, the remainder are mostly nomadic herders. With a high rate of unemployment, between 40-50%, and one small amount of Catholics (mostly foreigners), you can even guess who are the ones with computers and internet access there... And that country has a higher rate in computers and internet access than Cuba.
So, you can guess then who are those tweeting in the hasgtag Cuba, filling pages and pages of blogs in internet, and saying “they are accessing the web from the comfort of their homes”.
And those numbers are not from the CIA or US government and agencies (one of the favourites complaints of Castro’s regime), ITU is a United Nations Agency, the same international organization Cuba’s government is quoting in their public speeches.
In the same report, ITU brings more clever information. As you can check in the Table 2.7: IDI Access sub-index 2010 and 2008, it shows:
As you can see, instead of going forward in the ITU rank, Cuba retreated 7 positions: from 142 to 149, what made Cuba to get a negative number in the Global Rank Change of the same UNO agency, as you can see in the next figure:
And in the western Hemisphere, Cuba is the third from the bottom of that rank as you can see, just followed by Guatemala and Nicaragua.
In the same report we can read clearly (Chapter 2 page 48):
“Four other countries (Antigua and Barbuda, Trinidad and Tobago and Cuba) did not offer mobile-broadband services, and in general countries’ mobile-broadband penetration levels remained low”
And added:
“There are four countries where at end 2010 penetration remains below one per cent, namely Bolivia, Cuba, Nicaragua and Paraguay.”
Another handy technique used by Cuba’s government is to hide very sensitive statistics to all the UNO Agencies, and ITU is not an exception as you can see below:

It is nothing un-common but the usual rule.
If you put together all this information with the fact that a Cuban Company named RAFIN bought the 27% belonged by the Italian company Telecom, at the price of 706 millions (Venezuelan money without any doubt), to hold the monopoly of the communication in the island at the brink of the arrival of the so-published optical cable between Cuba and Venezuela, you get the whole picture.
By the way, RAFIN is a Company who belongs to the military. Isn’t it suggestive the fact that the name of the company match up the first two letters of Raul and Fidel Castro?
Those who are filling with tweets or comments in Twitter and Facebook are Cuba’s government agents paid by Cuba’s official institutions, and belong to Cuba’s propaganda system.  Some of those numbers filling the pages of the ITU’s report belong to Cuban officials and their relatives: they are not lacking internet connection and comfort in their houses. They are not the people of Cuba.
You can count, also, many of the engrossing numbers of those small statistics belong to offices and institutions settled in government buildings, and government agencies. And that’s the Truth.
Their own numbers betrayed their own words in Twitter, that’s why it is easier to catch a liar than a lame. In the case of Cuba, you have to be careful with who you are talking... 


Ziva said...

Juan I agree with your conclusions based on the data, but shouldn't you also factor in cell phones, the black market and corruption?

Juan Martin Lorenzo said...


It is hard to know how much influence the black market in Twitter in Cuba: it is huge, but at the same time very small. Let me explain. The black market to email access is big, but the actual access to internet through black market is very little because Cuba's gov has been tighting more and more the possibilities. And I telling you this because I really know. Obviously, I have friends who have internet connection in their jobs but they cannot use it at home because their workplaces had established the practice to register what are the phone numbers allowed to connect to the internet servers from home.
Maybe it is something you don't understand, but in Cuba in order to connect to an internet provider within the country is through fixed phone lines, and nowadays Cuba's authorities had established the practice to control which telephones could connect and which ones are not allowed. That had caused that many old friends had to cut ties from internet and only could do during the day through their jobs.
The other thing is: Cubans (talking the regular citizens, don't try to tweet because they know Cuba's internet providers are checking what's going on and they don't want to risk a thing, especially because this is the way they are in touch with relatives and friends.
I think you can understand perfectly what I am saying.

Thanks for your comment

Juan Martin