RSF Cuba Report: No Censorship on Internet
An internet kiosk in Cuba
The virulently anti-Castro French organization Reporters Without Borders (RSF) released a report today detailing Cuban's access to the internet. While the report ignores the amazing strides Cuba is making in IT and glosses over other inconvenient facts, it still manages to contradict much of what the mainstream media and RSF had written before about Cuba and the internet (ie. that it is "heavily censored").
Price, not politics, prohibits easy Web access in Cuba, report says
By Frances Robles
On a monthlong assignment to Cuba, the French journalist hopped from Internet cafe to cafe on a hunt: determine to what extent the government censored the Net.
The results were surprising: her report, released Thursday by Reporters Without Borders, says Internet cafes at hotels and the post office allowed mostly unfettered access to Web sites, even those considered "subversive." But prices were excessive and security warnings popped up when the names of well-known Cuban dissidents appeared on the screen.
"I was surprised I could visit all Web sites," the journalist - who used the pseudonym of Claire Voeux to write the report so she would be able to return to Cuba - said in a telephone interview from France.
But even Reporters Without Borders was surprised to learn that the Cuban government does not block Web sites it considers hostile, such as The Miami Herald's. Only once during her monthlong stay did Voeux find a site - a Mexican page about a post-Castro Cuba - blocked.
Internet is widely available in hotels, but Cubans are prohibited from entering tourist hotels (wrong - I saw everyday Cubans enter the most prestigous of hotels without question). At the post office, two services were available: a national "intranet" service which provided e-mail access and cost $1.50 an hour, and an unrestricted international web that cost $4.50.
The Cuban government argues that the U.S. trade embargo keeps the nation from purchasing the fiber optic cables it needs to offer broader access to the Web. Cuba currently depends on satellites, which offer spotty and slow service to privileged Cubans who have access at work or have the $4.50 an hour it costs at post office Internet facilities.